& Fortune: Actress Meg Tilly
teaches her: Live within your means
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those happy years for you?
Tilly: My happiest years
are now. In a way, raising my kids saved me, because in parenting
my children, I re-parented myself. They were an enormous gift, a
blessing in my life. Just because you're out of an abusive childhood
doesn't mean that it doesn't take you a long time to learn that
you have the right to your own emotional and physical boundaries.
Even though people are telling you you're wonderful, you're fabulous,
your self-esteem can be very, very low, to where you feel like you're
living a lie. I had challenging relationships, which I would not
now because now I am stronger.
Bankrate: Did you have thoughts of
Tilly: After I learned
that I could not be a dancer anymore, I did consider not being here anymore. I
remember one time, I went to the top of the building where I was living and just
thought how easy it would be (to jump). I didn't get so far as to get up on the
ledge or anything. It wasn't a matter of being angry at the world; it was just
being so tired of the struggle. But what saved me was that my family wouldn't
understand that it wasn't something else.
Did you take an interest in your financial security during those years?
Tilly: No, not until the
last little while. It's ironic, but in my first marriage, everybody
thought I'd married him to advance myself or for his money, but
he had enormous debt. During those on-screen years, I couldn't use
credit cards. It was very, very challenging. He was in big, big
debt, and for me, that was terrifying. He did have an enormous debt
that I, in marrying him, was helping pay off, and it took a long
time to pay it off. In order to get groceries, I had to go to the
fourth floor of this bank and have them sign off on a check so I
could cash it to buy groceries to feed the kids. Limos would drop
us off, he liked to have a fancy address, but there was no furniture
in the house, just a few rented pieces, that's it. We didn't have
any money. It was a facade again.
can get out of it. I did get him out of it, and then I left (laughs). And I saved
and I'm comfortable and able to send my kids to college and I have my retirement
in order, but it was very scary. I'd never had debt in my life. We were poor,
but I never had debt. Those were scary years, very scary years, and I had my children
to take care of.
Bankrate: As someone
who has known both rich and poor, what advice would you give about money?
I think that, in our society, everybody is always pretending they have a happier
life -- that they don't have debt -- and everybody's always looking at the Joneses
and wondering how they do it. You know how they do it? Debt. And I think it's
time for people to say, you know what? Just be truthful! Because otherwise, everybody
is always like, why is my life not blessed? Why am I such a screw-up? Instead,
live within your means. Just tell the truth. Then everybody else isn't trying
to match you.