Initially she accepted his career path. “I didn’t have a lot of insight into finances at that point,” Patterson said. “As we started out, he was working, and we bought a house with a 15-year mortgage.”
She said vacations were a high priority for her but he never wanted to spend the money.
They agreed on not having kids, but Patterson said she was determined to secure her future financially and her ex-husband was unsure where he wanted to go in his career. “I didn’t mind supporting that for a while, but eventually it got old,” she said.
About three years after their purchase, they decided to divorce. Patterson was immediately on the alert, because at age 28, she had saved about a year’s salary in her 401(k) plan. “Texas is a community property state,” she said. “Everything, including retirement accounts, is split 50-50.”
She told her lawyer she didn’t want her husband touching her retirement savings. In return, she said, her ex got the house and the mortgage. The house value had shot up from its original price of $150,000 to about $250,000 now, she said.
If she ever decides to combine finances with someone, Patterson said, she’d have to be certain their long-term goals match up with hers. “That’s where that failed, I think,” she said. “I want to work hard and ambitiously now, so that when I’m in my 50s or 60s I don’t have to still be working hard.”
Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.