The Dreaded 5 Letter Word (and Fall Winery Pics!)

Pin It PIN IT!

Just for the record, I am REALLY anxious about writing this post and it’s not the same anxiety I felt when writing this one about Weight Watchers or this one about my struggles with eating and drinking. This one is, if possible, harder because it makes me so vulnerable. I’m sharing a piece about me that very few people know and it’s scary.

No, friends, I’m not talking about sex, genitalia or orgies. (Trust me, I’d be STOKED to be writing about that.) I’m writing about this…

The worst 5 letter word IN THE WORLD. Money. So, if you don’t want to read about my money issues, I’d skip out to a lighter post. This one will be a bit heavy.

Let me preface this by saying I NEVER, EVER talk about money to my friends (I consider all of y’all my friends!). It’s just one of those subjects that is really touchy and comes with weird glances, awkward silences and pity stares. It’s usually just something I discuss with my  husband and my family. But, it’s really been affecting ME lately so I just need to let it out. So, thanks in advance for listening. Oh and to lighten it up, I’m sharing some photos from Paradise Springs Winery, a local winery in Clifton, VA, I went to this weekend.

As you’ve seen on Facebook, Twitter and previous posts, I’m having a really rough couple days. And as much as I hate to admit this, it’s because of financial woes. Because I can’t truly talk about my work situation, I’ll just briefly say I work, currently, as a contractor. This means, simply, I get paid hourly and only get paid when I work. This means NO paid time off and, shockingly, no holiday pay. So when I’m unable to work (or even the building is shut down or there’s a crazy emergency) I don’t get paid. Um, guys? THIS BLOWS. I could scream about this for hours but I can’t here. Call me and invite me over for wine and I’ll tell you there.

So, this past Friday on payday, my check was substantially less than it normally was. Like, a lot less. Let me put this into perspective. The amount I was short was the cost of a month’s worth of groceries or our monthly utility bill. And, the worst part was, no one told me it would be. So, when you read that I was crying at work, that was why. Living somewhere like DC, I count on almost every penny JUST TO SURVIVE. My rent is very high, the cost of living is very high (hello $200 a month just to ride public transportation and expensive food). I can’t just function on $300 dollars less without serious consequences. Now, before I can continue with why I’m in such a financial hole at the age of 25, I need to briefly talk about my financial history. This, guys, is where it gets heavy.

My personal financial struggles are linked, albeit symbolically, to my struggle with my weight, self acceptance and self esteem. Growing up, I was chubby. I’ve never been the pretty girl, the popular girl or the girl with the best clothes. Like I’ve said before, in fifth grade I was in women’s sizes. I just didn’t feel good about who I was and I dressed to reflect that. Even when I lost a lot of weight, I still hid behind baggy clothes and over-sized tees. I just didn’t feel attractive. In our society, beauty is tied with more than just your facial features or your size. It’s tied with what you are wearing and who you are wearing. I don’t agree with it, but it’s true. I had a very comfortable childhood, but I was never the one with the hottest fashions. To my family, saving for college and retirement was more important than keeping me in Abercrombie’s newest fashions. This, honestly, is a lesson I wish I would have listened to.

So, flash forward to my first semester in college. The first couple of weeks were really hard on me. I was adjusting to college life and was still carrying around 25 extra pounds. I surely wasn’t the biggest girl on campus, but I was the biggest amongst my friends, and that was hard. It was very hard going out with my thin, beautiful friends because they always had male attention and I didn’t. I sort of felt like the outcast. This was one of the driving factors of me paying really close attention to my diet and working out as much as I did. I didn’t want to be the lonely, “fat” friend anymore. I had one boyfriend in middle school and wanted, truthfully, to date and experience a true relationship. Because I was a “nobody” those first few months, I had to find a way to get people’s attention. To get people to like me. So, unbenounced to my parents, I signed up for my first credit card. Looking back now, I seriously want to PUNCH myself for doing that. However, at the same time, I’m glad I did. It helped shape who I am and taught me some serious lessons about the real world and real life.

That credit card was my golden ticket. As soon as I had it, I started swiping. I used it to buy pizzas for my friends, beer to take to parties and clothes, lots and lots of clothes. For the first time in my life, I was ordering and buying the latest fashions without any limit. Without anyone telling me no. It was invigorating, to be honest. To be 18, go into a store and buy whatever I wanted. Fast forward again to around November of my freshman year. Not only had I lost almost 20 pounds since I started, but I was popular. I had more friends than I knew what to do with and had the attention of some really, really cute boys. I finally felt like I belonged. I finally felt like I mattered, like my opinion, my thoughts, were important to someone else. This was, highly, due in part to my weight loss and my new found financial freedom. Instead of saying I couldn’t afford to go out or couldn’t afford spring break in Panama City, I was buying trips for not just me, but friends and boys I liked. By Christmas time, I had two credit cards with minimums of $2500 and was spending money like it was going out of style. Life was good.

If you haven’t already guessed, it’s not a story with a “happily ever after.” By the time of spring break 2005, I was broke. Don’t get me wrong, it was still one of the best weeks of my life, but I had maxed out both cards. And honestly, I didn’t even understand what this meant. I knew I couldn’t use it anymore, but didn’t grasp that I needed to immediately remedy it. I was late in payments, didn’t pay some months and completely destroyed my credit. It’s taken, YEARS, to rebuild and it’s still not perfect. I’m not saying this because I want pity, I just need to say it. People with kids or people in college, DON’T do what I did unless you are fully able to pay off what you buy. Credit isn’t just magic money.

Here’s the hardest part, in addition to rebuilding a shattered credit, I also have some of the same issues I had when I was 18. I’m not happy with what I look  like. I’ve gained weight, I’m unsure of my career path, I’m constantly confused with who I am. I once again find myself as that loner, that chubby girl in the corner with nothing to offer. And I do find myself trying to over compensate with money. I spend more than I have on new fashions, fun trips, fabulous accessories because I’m scared if I don’t have them, I won’t be anything. I’m completely terrified that if I’m not dressed to the 9’s, no one will even try to get to know me. My husband, God bless him, loves me regardless of what I’m wearing. He’d love me if I was 1,000 pounds (although would strongly urge me to move) and if I wore a paper bag. But inside, ME, I’m not there. And this horrible insecurity rose up again when I saw the scale start to tip. Every few pounds, it gets worse. And here I am, today, nearly 160 pounds and having to pay for the metro in coins with just a few penny’s to rub together.

So where do I go from here? I wish I knew. I wish it was as easy as saying “I am going to save money, not worry about what others think and reaffirm myself with positive things!” But this is more than just a spending problem. It’s in my core and I need to figure out a way to fix ME before I can fix my spending and my eating. I need to figure out how to be happy with me, regardless of my weight, my financial status or my looks. Which, friends, is hard.

So, now you know why I’ve been down and why I may not seem like myself. I hope I’ll find my way soon down this scary, windy road. Let’s just hope there’s a rainbow with a big ol’ pot of gold there when I do.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. Posted by Macaroniandcheesecake on
    Tuesday, October 4th, 2011
    Thanks for your honesty and openness.  It can be a constant struggle to find ourselves! I went through some similar things (the weight/insecurity/trying to fit in stuff) and still struggle sometimes. I pray that God will guide you and that things will start to turn around very soon! 
  2. Posted by Jessica Trimble on
    Tuesday, October 4th, 2011
    I did exactly what you did with your first credit card and I'm STILL paying it off. I took my first boyfriend on a trip to Florida and charged $2000 between hotel/Disney and food for a few days. I regret it 100% and I fear it's a mistake we all make as youth. :/

    I'm so sorry your work situation leaves you in a financial burden, hope it looks up for you soon - you are gorgeous and awesome and I heart you. ;)
  3. Posted by Fan for life on
    Tuesday, October 4th, 2011
    What a wonderfully honest and open story you have shared.  Thank you for sharing!  So many people can relate to your story.  You have certainly taken the first step.  Please continue to share your story with your fellow friends and readers.  We are all here to support you.  I look forward to supporting you and following you on your journey.  Hopefully, it will enlighten my life on the way.

    Thank you again for sharing!
  4. Posted by Bake Your Day on
    Tuesday, October 4th, 2011
    You have so much strength and courage for putting all of this out there. We've all been there in one way, shape or form.  My husband and I came into our marriage with about the same amount of debt between credit cards, car loans and student loans.  We are working tremendously hard at getting it paid down but it's not easy for anyone. I hope that your job situation gets better, that cannot be easy. I'm thinking about you, Claire, hang in there! 
  5. Tuesday, October 4th, 2011
    Great post! I haven't read many blog posts about money before! Great pics :D
  6. Posted by Kismet on
    Tuesday, October 4th, 2011
    Wow.Indeed a heavy post-and you are very very brave to have put all these feelings and thoughts out there which in my opinion, is a great form of therapy. I know you aren't trying to find sympathy or pity - you are trying to find ways to fight those demons within you. Once you have gotten rid of those, I think you will find that everything else will fall into place. 
    All I would say is that focus on the good things about you to start with-what are the things you love about yourself and that make you unique? Surely, your looks and financial status don't define the REAL you? I don't know you well enough but I can be sure that anyone who has the guts to write what you have and be ready to internalise and fix things, must be someone with great strength and will power. You have a loving husband to add to that list! Focus on the good and slowly the bad will disappear. 
    What to do about the money situation? Maybe find something part time/online?! You have probably already thought of these things already and I am just making my already long comment even longer-but i am saying it anyway!
    I hope you feel better and things get easier for you- you're still so young (I wish i were 25 again) and have your whole life ahead of you-this is only a few prep steps on how to live the rest of your life stress free!
    Good luck! 
    PS. Cut up those credit cards-they are EVIL! 
  7. Posted by Amy on
    Tuesday, October 4th, 2011
    Money issues can really make you feel sick. I have 96k in student loan debt, work at a job where I don't receive health insurance or a 401k, and I barely make enough money to cover all my bills. I too am second guessing my career choice, but I'm so far in debt with student loans I wouldn't even think of going back to school to change it. 

    I sadly have no good advice to give you about how to make things better, I wish I did. I just hope it makes you feel even the tiniest bit better knowing you're not alone in regards to money or weight. I'm sitting in that boat right along with you. Shoot me a message if you ever want to just vent, need a workout buddy, whatever! =)
  8. Tuesday, October 4th, 2011
    you're smart, pretty, and funny. don't ever forget it!! i bet 95% of people out there are in the same boat as you. remember that it's never too late to start fresh. make this your time! Forever 21 is the greatest place ever for CHEAP clothes and no one ever knows the difference. trust me, i've fooled more people with my F21 gear, for a fraction of the cost ($10 skinny jeans? yes please). go snag a suze orman book and start practicing better habits. you're not alone!
  9. Posted by Cucina49 on
    Tuesday, October 4th, 2011
    Thank you for your honesty--it's not the kind of thing we normally see on this site.  I have struggled with some of the very same issues and I feel your anxiety coming through in this post.  It probably doesn't help for all of us to say you look great, though you do, or that things will get better--which they almost certainly will.  Do know that you are not alone and that we wish you the best in this difficult time.
  10. Posted by Erin Ruberry on
    Tuesday, October 4th, 2011
    Wow, what an open and honest post. I wish I had some advice, beyond the basics like setting up a monthly budget, but when your paycheck could change from month-to-month, it must be extraordinarily hard to plan ahead. You're lucky to have such a supportive husband and hopefully, things will change for the better soon.

    (And these photos are gorgeous -- I want to go there!)
  11. Posted by Anni on
    Tuesday, October 4th, 2011
    Claire, I relate to this so much more than you know. I have a very similar story, in almost every way. I think for me, new clothes are tied far too much into self-esteem - same with hair appointments, etc. It's led to some really destructive credit card habits. I'm finally to the point where I'm paying off rather than adding to the debt, but that doesn't mean I can make much of a headway in it. Chicago's a lot like DC in that our rent + bills are basically exactly what we make per month, there is no real "extra" - I've really struggled with finding a way to get the things I need to build my business without going further into debt, and I know that sinking feeling of not knowing how you'll make ends meet. 

    I don't know what to tell you, because I haven't gotten out of it. But if you ever need to talk, I'm here! 
  12. Posted by Kim - Liv Life on
    Tuesday, October 4th, 2011
    Oohh... I did that too.  Sophomore year in college and I got my credit card... 3 trips to Hawaii, lots of clothes and a car later I too was tapped out.  Luckily I didn't ruin my credit, on the other hand the cards were probably thrilled with my interest payments!  However I did learn a lesson which I hope to pass on to my kids when I get there. 
    Hang in there... you really sound like you have it all together.  Your post was so well written and thought out that I don't worry about you!  I know you will be OK, it may take some time to find your way down that path, but you will.
    Your post was extraordinarily refreshing and honest.  There are probably more people out there with similar feelings than we know.  Nicely done!
  13. Posted by Kim - Liv Life on
    Tuesday, October 4th, 2011
    Ah, and I meant to mention that I also really enjoyed your photos!!
  14. Posted by Jazmin on
    Tuesday, October 4th, 2011
    I totally, absoultely, understand where you're coming from with financial woes. I never once had a credit card until I got one to put wedding stuff on (bad mistake) and it all went downhill from there. I've lost myself because I've had no money to spend lately and it sucks. I sucked it up and went to a financial advisor last week and I instantly felt so much better.

    You're smart so I have no doubt in my mind that you will get it all figured out. Struggling now makes us wiser and more well prepared for the future!

    Also - fantastic pictures!
  15. Posted by Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. on
    Tuesday, October 4th, 2011
    How brave of you to share this with all of us, Claire. I totally feel your pain on this. I have student loan debt, credit card debt, and am still a grad student who is not making enough money. It is so stressful and it definitely impacts every area of life including our eating habits and our weight! Trust me when I say you are not alone! Hang in there!! <3
  16. Posted by Caitlin on
    Wednesday, October 5th, 2011
    Roomie! You are gorgeous and real and honest and I really feel like we were meant to be friends :) We share a lot of the same money struggles - mine is that I am working a job that I LOVE but doesn't pay much, and my husband is also trying to balance his passion (acting) with making money - and we live in New York which means we are poor. I just keep reminding myself that this is the time in my life to be poor (when we are young and have relatively few responsibilities) and try to make it work the best I can. But I don't have any real tips because we are struggling too. So, just know that I know how you are feeling and I love you. xoxo
  17. Posted by Ann on
    Wednesday, October 5th, 2011
    I wish I had the right words to make this all better for you... I don't, but I want to say that you're as brave as you can be to post this.  I can imagine how difficult it is for you.  I think all of us have gone thru the same thing and I hope it passes quickly for you.  As for how you feel about yourself - that's a struggle...maybe talking to a counselor would help (I know - they cost - but there might be programs).  If you want MY vote - I think you're as cute as you can be!  Sending cyber hugs...
  18. Posted by Elliot S Volkman on
    Wednesday, October 5th, 2011
    I have money woes. It's called a wife. 
  19. Posted by Sarah Webster on
    Wednesday, October 5th, 2011
    Thanks for this post!! A lot of us are in the same boat but fortunately my parents (dad) taught me at an early age, that debt is no bueno.  They also thankfully paid for my 4yrs of college.  However, I do NEED to go get my Masters degrees so that'll be on me, and I'll prob have to get loans.  I'm married - own a house.  The house is our only debt currently.  We just went on a vacation to California that we paid for in cash and religiously saved up for.  we also paid cash for a "used" car for my husband - scrimping and saving the entire way.  Definately recommend Suze orman or Dave Ramsey.  I feel you on the weight issues - mine has been creeping up...I've also tried to scale back my shopping habits and embracing discount stores like Tj Maxx and Burlington Coast Factory, Nordstrom Rack - you can still dress to the nines on a budget!! I also embrasse Charlotte Russe and Forever 21 (though, those stores aren't great for women "our size" - I'm 5'4, 156lbs, working to lose the weight.  I too, work at a job where I don't get paid days off for vacation, sick or holidays :( :(  no 401k or health benefits - thankfully we have health insurance through my husband and we try to put $$ away on our own for retirement.  My husband also works as a server at a restaurant - so both our incomes fluctuate greatly. We are 29yrs old.
  20. Posted by Kelly on
    Wednesday, October 5th, 2011
    Aww Claire!!  I just read this entire post and first I want to say...YOU ARE SO BEAUTIFUL!  You shouldn't feel down about yourself AT ALL, but I do know how you feel because I obsess over it so much myself.  It's hard having super skinny friends that can eat whatever they want and not lose a pound, but I guess it just makes it more gratifying for us when we DO lose weight because we know we earned it :)  And I'm so sorry about your money situation :(  That's why I can't buy a house....the NOVA area is SO expensive and (because of credit cards as well in college) my credit SUCKS!  I'm stuck living in a one bedroom apartment with the smallest kitchen ever and still living paycheck to paycheck.  Chin up girly, your gorgeous, have a wonderful hubby and people that love you!  This will only make you stronger!! xoxo 
  21. Posted by Gretchen on
    Thursday, October 6th, 2011
    I'm sorry I missed this post the first time around! Claire, you are so not alone in this. We all have our inner monetary demons to battle, and were young and irresponsible with credit cards. Even as someone who has always prided myself on knowing the value of a dollar and the importance of paying off my bills in full, I fell into the trap where if I wasn't being a food glutton, I was being a retail glutton. I think it has to do with my obsessive personality, hahaha. I'm still literally paying for the repercussions of my overspending, but I know that it's taught me a lot as well. You have already learned your limits and are working to repair that. You'll be okay. Love you. :)
  22. Posted by Anonymous on
    Thursday, October 6th, 2011
    Seriously, it's like you jumped into my head and told my story.  I don't have any advice for you because I'm in a similar boat but I will say I'm extremely impressed.  I don't think I'd ever have the courage to air my financial story to my nearest and dearest much less the internet.  If you find a magic debt buster please let me know :-)
  23. Friday, October 7th, 2011
    Thank you for sharing and being so open and honest.  I think we all have vices whether it be money, weight, etc.  It is how you pick yourself up from it that will make you the best person you can be =)
  24. Posted by glee55 on
    Saturday, October 8th, 2011
    i admire your vulnerability, and pray that you know you are not alone and you are not unloved. i felt like crap this week too, fat and unloved. but those are lies, may you know the truth. you are loved and you are beautiful!
    • Posted by Claire Gallam10 on
      Saturday, October 8th, 2011
      Thank you SO much for your incredible words. I really appreciate it. And remember, you are loved too and beautiful!
  25. Posted by Paloma on
    Thursday, October 13th, 2011
    Claire, this was such a brave post for you to write and I think that in doing so, you're only going to be able to approach your life and struggles with even more clarity.  Sometimes stating our perceived shortcomings aloud helps us to release them.  You are such a strong, capable, beautiful woman and I know that with determination, support of loved ones, and a positive attitude, that things will only get better and better for you. Love you!
  26. Posted by Lauren on
    Thursday, January 17th, 2013
    I know I'm probably coming across this post super late but I can relate. My parents never saved for my college, I've always been a yo yo with my weight, I'm 5'10" and literally LARGER than all of my friends. Boys didn't and still don't look at me because my 5'5" friends who are "skinnier" and shorter than me are at my side. I have no idea what I'm doing with my life (21) and money seems to burn holes in my pockets. I don't have the latest clothes or even a very large closet (my younger sister has enough clothes in her closet for a year, I have about a months worth of outfits). in 2010 I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins lymphoma (cancer) that seemed to be my ticket to fame because I was finally down to 145-150 pounds (all be it NO muscle whatsoever) With my wig on I had guys crawling all over themselves for the model-esque version of me. Peoples generosity in that time had given me enough money to go out to eat whenever and wherever I wanted. I was literally invincible. Then I got better, was featured in two commercials and a magazine article. And then I was on my own, the benefit account was dry, I was jobless, in a college I couldn't afford cause my dad bailed on his end of the divorce decree, and a complete failure. I'm now back home with my parents, watching all my friends start their career while i would just be happy for a decent 9-5. Keep your chin up!
  27. Posted by Rory on
    Tuesday, October 13th, 2015
    It's remarkable to go to see this web site and reading the views of all
    mates regarding this article, while I am also zealous of getting familiarity.
  28. Posted by PAYFAZZ on
    Friday, December 29th, 2017
    Thanks for sharing! Not so many people want to open their selfs like you did. I know that struggle, never give up! Someday this will be over and you can tell it to all your relatives out there.
    • Posted by Claire on
      Monday, January 15th, 2018
      Thank you, that means so much!