How This Single Mom On A Budget Lived Life To The Fullest After Divorce

"I made the commitment that I was never going to lock myself away again."
Money can't buy happiness after divorce
Leren Lu via Getty Images
Money can't buy happiness after divorce

If there’s ever a time you need a little distraction in your life, it’s during the divorce process. That’s why we launched our Divorce Care Package series. With each post, we’ll show you what things — books, movies, recipes — helped others relieve stress in the midst of divorce, in the hopes that a few of their picks will serve you well too. Want to share what got you through your divorce? Email us at

Like many divorcées, Trish Sammer's finances took a hit after she split from her husband in 2010. Still, a tight budget wasn't going to keep the Philadelphia-based mom from living life to the fullest -- even if she had to do it on the cheap.

Below, Sammer, who was married for eight years, shares five things that helped her embrace life again after divorce.

The Songs
"Miley Cyrus used to make me cry nearly every morning. My daughter was in kindergarten when my marriage began to unravel in a serious, not-going-to-be-able-to-sew-this-back-together way. On the daily 30-minute ride to school, she’d sit in the backseat happily singing along to the soundtrack to the Hannah Montana movie, while upfront I silently sobbed through it. When you’re so fragile that a manufactured teen popstar brings you to tears, it’s hard to not want to hug yourself.

I’d switch over to Rock Spectacle by the Barenaked Ladies as soon as I pulled out of the school parking lot. The CD wasn’t an intentional choice to start off -– I just found it floating around my car one day. Then I ended up getting stuck on it for months. Years later, I started dating a guy who played the guitar. The first two songs he played me were from that Barenaked Ladies album. I was dumbfounded at being serenaded by this man I really, really liked, who also happened to be playing the soundtrack to one of the most significant times in my life. There's no way he could have known that."
The Splurge
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"You guys, I was so poor right after I got divorced. Like, grocery-shopping-at-the-dollar-store poor. My single mama townhouse was mostly decorated with stuff people gave me or items that I picked up at Goodwill for a buck or two. One day, I found a painting that I loved: a print of a man and woman in formal attire, ballroom dancing in the rain while their maid and butler stand by with umbrellas. Not only did I love the picture, but I loved that it was double-matted in a beautiful frame. What I did not love: It cost $10. I didn’t spend $10 on anything then, including my clothes (many of which also came from Goodwill). It seemed gratuitous to purchase this thing that offered no utility other than to fill space on the wall. Still, it made me smile. With much guilt, I shelled out the 10 bucks and hung the picture in my hallway.

But get this: Remember the man who played the Barenaked Ladies for me? Well, when he played me those songs, he was sitting under this exact image, only it was hanging in his living room. He had the same picture. And yes, in what Oprah might describe as a 'full circle' experience, that man is now my fiancé. (Thank God he didn’t bust out the Miley Cyrus tunes or things may have worked out very differently.)"
The Photo
Photo courtesy of Trish Sammer
"A few months after I moved into what I affectionately called the single mama townhouse, a friend sent me a photo of herself with her newly adopted little girl. I thought my heart might bust with joy when I saw it. I ended up taping it on the wall above my desk, in the cramped, cluttered corner of the kitchen that I used as my office. That photo helped remind me that the people we are going to love most in this lifetime may be people we have yet to meet. They can show up at any time and light up our whole existence."
The Recipe
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"After my divorce, I was finally able to perfect my recipe for homemade Raisinets. It’s super easy:

1. Start with a handful of semi-sweet chocolate chips
2. Add in handful of raisins
3. Shove in mouth."
The Distraction
PhotoAlto/Frederic Cirou via Getty Images
"After I moved into the single mama townhouse, I found that I had time to myself for the first time in almost seven years. I was both giddy and sick over the prospect. Because of my ex’s work schedule and the tiny intersection of things that he and I both mutually enjoyed, my world had gotten smaller and smaller while I was married. I decided to use my new kid-free time to reintroduce myself to the world. I blocked out something to do on every free day: concerts, street fairs, museums, hiking, biking, whatever. Sometimes alone. Sometimes with friends. I made the commitment that I was never going to lock myself away again. It was my way of saying, 'Hello, world! I’m back!'"
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