3 Things I Learned from Applying a Zero Based Budget as a Single Mom

The concept of a zero-based budget may be an easy achievement for some, but for those that feel their financial situation is getting the best of them and struggling to gain some ground, I am here to tell you there is life beyond the misery.

I’m also going to tell you it’s more rewarding than painful.

A zero-based budget is one of the first and most simple steps in working towards a debt free life and forever changing the trajectory of your family’s financial story.

For all families this is important but for the single mom, it is — crucial.

The instability of finances and lack of child support throughout my time as a single mom were beyond frustrating. I don’t know how many nights I lost sleep trying to figure out last minute details of paying a bill or covering rent. The crappy part was I worried alone and you probably are too. I eventually found this lack of support to be a hidden treasure. Forcing me to work harder and lean into my strengths to gain footing in a world that would eventually make way for me and my little one.

This problem, of not having enough money to barely covers bills, facilitated an emotion of scarcity which eventually became my financial hurdle to becoming debt free. Ugh….it was like once the money started coming in and I could pay the bills I wanted to play catch up for all the things I hadn’t been able to provide for the both of us. I basically skipped over the debt I accumulated through college, turned a blind eye to the overwhelming monstrosity of stress, and spent my extra cash instead. You can read more about that here.

But then, one weekend, wisdom road into Vegas in a grey 2007 Toyota Tacoma.

That wisdom, the guy I would eventually marry, began the journey of encouraging me to tackle our finances. Separately. But together. After months or hard conversations, article upon article and tough debates, I hesitantly and not fully committed tucked one toe into the deep waters of budgeting.

And there I found these. Three golden nuggets I walked away with after applying that  zero-based budget one desperate weekend in late 2009:

  1. After 15 years or so of budgeting my finances with pencil and a piece of scratch paper, unbeknownst to my budding wisdom, I shamelessly realized— I didn’t know a thang about budgeting.  I thought I knew what I was doing. O.K. —I didn’t. But I thought I was doing an O.K. job. O.K.— I knew I wasn’t. I was merely skirting by month to month. It was actually quite depressing towards the end.
  2. The first 30 days are comparable to completely cutting sugar out of your diet for a month. If you love sugar you know the pain I speak of. It’s horrible. It’s painful. It’s a constant reminder in your face. A constant —”you can’t”— “you can’t” —”you can’t”. So that part sucks.
  3. There is power in telling your money where to go. Once the shock wears off and you realize you have been incompetent in effectively managing your finances all these years, you begin to wonder why you didn’t do this a long time ago. You begin to understand there is power in taking ownership of the finances you have been blessed with. And, in some cases, there is actually more money than you think there is.

I wish I could grab a cup of joe, sit down with you on a comfy couch and slay out all your bills. I would carry the heavy load for you. I would begin the stressful process and lean into the frustrating moments. I would tell you that the beginning is the hardest step and that once you get started you will begin to feel the excitement and relief. And best of all? You took the first step to the first part of a great story.

If you want to take me up on the offer..

To help you create a financial plan that will change the course of your family’s financial story feel free to message me or you can click on this link and schedule a free 30-minute session to get started.