Last summer, I thought I had met someone special. I thought we were going to last. I thought it would all be perfect.
But I was wrong, and it cost me dearly. In all honesty, I had no idea what the actual cost of a breakup was, both emotionally and financially.
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Love is expensive — even more so when it ends.
My last breakup cost me more than $8,000. For me — a traveling freelance writer — it hurt. Let me explain how it happened.
We met in Paris. He was from Dublin, and I was visiting home. At the time, I was living in Guatemala, where I had bought myself a guesthouse. As a freelance writer, all I needed was an internet connection — I could work from anywhere.
It was summer in the city of eternal romance. We spent it together.
I said I would consider moving to Dublin if and when things got serious. And they got serious quickly — too quickly, in hindsight. Exchanging my house in Guatemala to live rent-free in Dublin seemed like a smart move at the time. I flew back to Guatemala in September to arrange a house swap from December until April.
How to Protect Yourself Against the Side Effects of a Breakup
“Don’t rush into moving in with a romantic partner,” says Caroline Madden, a marriage and family therapist.
“Too often, people move in together with different motives,” Madden explains.
“One might take it as a sign that their partner wants to take the relationship to the next level, and that it is part of the overall plan to get married. The other might be doing it because it is ‘the next step,’ because they think they will save money or have more sex.”
Make sure you spend some time and discuss it more, unlike me.
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The Cost of a Breakup: My Horror Story
As you can imagine, a man accepted the swap I had suggested, but in December — the day before I was supposed to move into the apartment in Dublin — my boyfriend and I broke up, and I flew back home to Guatemala.
I decided to honor the home-swap agreement, so my house, which usually yields $1,500 a month in rental income, was now occupied by the man who had agreed to the swap.
That’s $6,000 in lost revenue right there, and I was left with an empty house in Europe, to boot.
In the summer of love, I had driven my BMW motorbike to Dublin, which included an 18-hour ferry ride. Once there, I got it checked, paid taxes, and bought insurance on my motorbike for a full year.
The insurance company wouldn’t give me a refund for unused premiums. The whole thing cost me around $500.
Around the same time, I had bought two sets of plane tickets and entrance to a big party in Paris. That would have been my awesome holiday gift to my boyfriend. But in the end, all it did was leave me $500 poorer.
When I saw the situation was getting toxic, I booked the next available flight back home for $1,000, though they usually cost $500.
The grand total cost of my breakup came out to $8,000. And that’s before you even consider the money I spent buying things for the house that I will never use, the winter clothes I bought to survive the cold and that I’ll never wear now, the higher cost of living in Europe when I could have lived somewhere cheaper, and the toll my guesthouse business would take having no customer feedback for the four months of the house swap.
Realistically, we’re probably looking at more than $10,000.
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Buying Peace of Mind
But you know what? I don’t really care. My time, my sanity, and my well-being are worth a million times more.
My previous breakup cost me five figures because I ended up buying my ex out of the house we’d bought together.
Otherwise, I would have had to pay him rent for his share, and I would have never really felt at home.
How can you move on and have a new boyfriend over when your ex owns half your house? How do you stop being in touch when you have joint assets? I am a huge proponent of “buying peace of mind.” As much as it stings to fork out the money, it helped me move on more quickly.
Avoiding the Harshest Side Effects of a Breakup
This is why you need an emergency fund. Even if you’re madly in love today, make sure you don’t stay in a relationship just because of money (or the lack thereof). If you need help budgeting and saving, try using an app like Digit, which automates your savings contributions.
I have seen friends stuck with their partners months after a breakup because they can’t afford to get their own places. The cost of a breakup can be unexpected and overwhelming.
Save Toward an Emergency Fund With a Money Market Account — Get Started >>
I am very grateful for having the means to go wherever I want, and my other half can be sure that if I am around, it is only out of love.
If my approach seems cold, that’s because when a breakup happens, I go into survival mode. Nothing counts but me. Once I am safe, with a roof over my head and no one to bug me, I mourn the relationship and let the feelings take over.
But if you stick around, you will suffer needlessly. Put yourself first. Spend whatever you need to in order to get back on your feet, then mend your broken heart.