Recognizing Your Options When it Seems Like You Have None

8:16 AM Katy 8 Comments

In my last post on hesitating to write about the money, I explained why I think taking some financial risks on real estate right now is a smart idea.

For example... single moms. I know you are reading this. Sometimes you come out of lurkdom to tell me so. Here are some facts for you:

At the beginning of this single parent journey, it felt like there was no hope and we were destined for poverty. However I am in better financial shape now, 3.5 years later, then I was when I was married. Once I was in charge of this ship, I changed course and sailed off in the direction I'd always dreamed about. No longer was I trapped in a mortgage on a bigger-than-necessary (half empty) house, or making payments on things I don't want or need. Being single gives you freedom you may not recognize because you're so focused on what you lack. So you need to change your perspective.

 I have choices now. You do too. But we have to make smart ones !

Here are the choices that I have made. Your choices may be different, and that's great. This is just to get you to think about your life and be resourceful!

#1. I am not fussing over my kids' future college expenses because the insane college bubble is next to bust, and I'll wait and see how the situation looks in 8-9 years when we get there. No sense saving $20k for something that costs 100k (times 3!), and won't get you a job. I have faith that this will work itself out somehow.

#2. I think I'm better off buying my kids a farm right now, than trying to save for (3) college degrees. Yes, I am exploring the idea of buying a small farm next and joining the homestead movement. We'll see. Gotta get through this beach house insanity first. (The bad thing about launching yourself at real estate projects on a shoestring budget is that you can only act on ONE wild impulse at a time. The beach house hasn't been built yet, but in my head I've already painted & decorated it and moved on to pastures and baby goats! Help!)

#3. I live below my means. If that means you have to move in with (trustworthy) family or (trustworthy) friends and pool your resources, consider it. If it means living in a trailer or a shed - so what? I'm open to just about anything at this point. (Although I'd move in with other people before I'd move my kids into a structure that wasn't safe.) This isn't a radical idea of course, but given our culture, it might seem that way.

 #4. I don't have cable, I don't have a landline phone, I don't have an iphone, I have an old car, and I don't eat much.

#5. This year I have given up new clothes and getting my hair done. This is really painful for me but it costs great. I give all my kids their haircuts too. Which means the boys have military haircuts. :)

#6. I don't keep any pets besides an outdoor cat. She is pretty independent. Dogs are insanely expensive, comparatively.

#7. I'm starting a second (very part time) job.

My current lifestyle will hopefully not be permanent, since I'd like to move toward being more self-sufficient regarding food, and mortgage-free, but this is what I'm doing to get there.

{Note: I am writing this assuming you are not in massive debt. If you are, many many people will tell you to follow Dave Ramsey's advice, which is great. However if Dave Ramsey won't get you out of debt for another 15 years, and you'd like a more extreme approach? There's always this chick's story: part 1 and 2. Warning: language.}

All this is to say: you can do this. It's possible.

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  1. You have some great points! It gets nauseating listening to "How hard done by people think they are," while they are texting on their I-phones and sporting their gel nails. I can't tell you the last time I went to a salon. My kids thought I was a hairdresser. LOL. Checked out Violent Acres and discovered she is a blast. Had to follow her blog thanks to you! Cheers.

  2. Preach on sister! I'm not a single parent, but this is how my husband and I live, we'd be completely off the grid if he had his way. I am saving for college, but I only have one and it's still probably not going to be enough!

  3. Your post comes at an eerily, scarily point in time for me. When I read your lead in "I know you are reading this", I had to open and read (although I am on a 4-hour teleconference for work . . .). My husband and I are parting ways after 26 years of marriage and 36 years of being together (high school sweethearts) and I am thinking about what my future will look like. We don't hate each other, as a matter of fact, I still love his with all my heart. But, I can no longer live with him for many reasons, including the fact that he is noncommunicative, unemotional, financially irresponsible. Sometimes I think "I cannot go through with this"; "this is too scary". When you write "You can do this. It is possible." OMGosh. I cannot believe I am reading this right now. I can do this. Thanks, "Mom..."

  4. Katy, I agree with the college thing. I was single before the kids entered kindergarten, and it has taken everything to keep my head barely above water. I stressed getting good grades & doing you best. My eldest is now a senior, and we are getting things daily from the Ivy's. Did you know if you make less than $65k that 4 years at an Ivy college is completely free? No loans, nothing! If I make less than $100k, 4 years at Brown will cost $5,165 (at least that is what they are currently telling us!)

    I earned a Bachelor's & Master's without paying a single penny of my own money. Scholarships, grants, and a job & worked at paid for my education. Stress the good grades & trying your best with your kids. I am so glad I did.

  5. Great tips! I can't wait to hear about this beach house.

  6. I was raised by a single mom and I remember MANY times when she and her friends (also mostly single moms) pitched in to help one another, whether that was sharing child-care during the summer months, buying groceries and putting gas in someone's car, or going on vacations together. I also remember one summer when we lived with another single mom and her kids; there were 8 of us in a 2-bedroom trailer :) It was during the summer of the Detroit riots and my mom, who worked second shift, didn't want to be driving across town after dark. My sister and I have such fond memories of that time!

    Times were tough, but mom always taught us girls that it was important to give too. With only a 6th grade education she didn't have a lot of job options, and mostly worked as a waitress and/or short order cook. She and her friends knew which of their regular customers had no family and those folks always got an invite to holiday dinners. I can't remember a holiday dinner without at least one extra person at the table. And every year she and her friends pooled their tip money to help another family in need at Christmas, and we always thought one of the best parts of Christmas was going shopping for gifts for someone else!

    I think that's one of the reasons I like your blog so much. I see you giving to others, and being a great example to your kids about what's REALLY important. As for what you shared in this post, I add a great big AMEN! We got out of debt back in '88 and have managed to stay that way ever since. Until now :) But that's okay, because we borrowed money to build a house and it will be paid for in 6 years...'cause we're doing most of the work ourselves.

    Being debt free has allowed us to do some things that we couldn't have otherwise. Like spend a year in East Africa working at an orphanage. What an amazing year! Our daughter was 14 when we went, and our son took a semester off college to join us for five months. Priceless memories!

    We buy most of our clothes used, same with furniture (and even building materials!) because those just aren't very important to us. We'd much rather spend any "extra" money on books, travel, and the opportunity to help others. It's important to determine what your personal priorities are, and then go for it!

    Looking forward to seeing the beach cottage take shape! And that farmstead some day too :)

  7. I really like this post. I am a single mother of a college age kid who says it is his responsibility to pay for college. I fill in where ever I can. After his dad walked out I sat him down and told him the financial situation (he was a teenager)and what I was trying to do. I stressed that we needed to work together to make it work for us both. Almost 5 years later and we are still working together. The silver lining for him is that he now knows about budgeting and costs for living on his own. He knows the difference between wants and needs.

    I too was financially scared when my husband left after 20 years of marriage but I am so much happier now and so is my son. We have actually saved money and live thriftily (I think that's how you spell it). To all you single parents out there get with a network of other single parents for support and a lesson on how to do something you don't know how to do. There are a lot of us out there. Someone could use your expertise while they teach you something you need.

    Love this blog keep working towards your dreams!

  8. have i told you lately how freakin' AHHHH-MAZIN' you are????? really? i feel like it's been awhile since i told you that you are a rock star, a hero, a real-life true-for-sure inspiration for all of us out there doing our best to be the best we can for our kiddies. you make us look like slackers!!


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