A decade ago, Jaimie Seaton and her family were living overseas in Asia while her husband worked as a high-ranking executive at Citibank. "We lived in a huge house with a pool and staff and a driver," Jaimie told me. "We always traveled business class. We always stayed in 5-star hotels. We always had a lot of parties."
"From where I sit now and how I have to economize, I just kind of shake my head at the amount of money I wasted."
Jaimie's financial picture looks quite different today. A year after moving back to the U.S., her marriage suddenly ended. At that point, Jaimie hadn't been working much. "I never made much money during my marriage," Jaimie said. "I never needed to." She quickly got a temporary job, but says her spending habits didn't immediately change. "I think of it like a large ship," she said. "It takes a while to turn."
Now, Jaimie brings in some money as a freelance writer, and receives monthly alimony and child support payments. But much of that will end when her children leave the house. "I’m really afraid of being old and being poverty stricken," Jaimie told me. And, she says that she and her kids feel uncomfortable now in social situations where they used to feel that they belonged. "I feel uncomfortable partly because of the money, but mostly because they’re all still married and their families are intact," Jaimie said. "It’s hard to be around it."
Jaimie wrote a piece for BuzzFeed about her class transition after her divorce. Read it here.
We asked the people we interviewed for this series to submit photos of things they felt represented their class status. "In this picture, I am lying on a private beach in Florida, when I was staying with a friend a few summers ago," Jaimie wrote. While she's cut out a lot of her expenses, Jaimie told us, "I still get a pedicure—my toes are always done. You get a lot of bang for your buck. It lasts a whole month and it costs $30."
This episode is part of our collaborative series with BuzzFeed called Opportunity Costs: Money and Class in America. To hear more, go to deathsexmoney.org/class.