In last week’s blog post, I talked about why it is few women support one another in managing their finances.
I would much rather talk about the heart of the family. The organization of putting a home in order so things can run smooth for you. In doing so I can’t leave out your finances. I just can’t do it. All week I had so many other ideas to chat about but I knew the foundation of this series on debt had to be laid. The topic addressed because the stress of my finances was the one thing that I never mastered as a single mom. I don’t want you to do the same. That is why I can’t ignore this grueling topic.
This week, I want to address the top five reasons why it’s hard for us to let someone into this private and very sacred financial place and yet, why it’s so crucial to the vitality of single parent living.
So let’s go!
Ladies, our pride. It was pride that had me worried about what I’d have to sacrifice. Pride kept me in debt. The thought of what I would have to give up put me in a tail-spin. Pay off my car? As in, no car payment? Who does that? I was just getting my income high enough to afford that new Lexus. But I owed $45k in debt, and I thought it was the best idea in the world to go out and add another $20-$25K. Cause come on guys, I was 32 and would be lookin’ cute in that car!
Everyone else is doing it. I can’t be the one who isn’t.
Once we have gained those little key nuggets of financial wisdom, we often times feel obligated to do something about it. It’s hard enough being a single mom and getting through the month or day for that matter. Let alone face the mountain of finances. Although I’m sure it seems easier today to keep going in the direction you are heading, I promise you it’s not. Debt has an explicit way of landing on our lap with the insurmountable weight of a freight train. Regardless of us living with our head in the sand or not.
Trying to save money with none or some. It don’t make a damn bit of difference.
When I think back on my past relationship with my debt, immaturity was absolutely a common denominator. Sure there was a time when I was pulling financial resources from, what felt like, eighteen different sources. At that point I felt there was no way I could save even a dime. Looking back on what I know now, I could have. I chose not to.
Then there came a time when I was making decent money, and yet I felt like I had to play catch up from all the years I wasn’t able to give my daughter and myself the things I “thought” we should have. I had to purchase what I wasn’t able to the previous seven years. Although I was concerned about the money I owed, I wasn’t taking action to pay it back. I was living in the now. I was living in financial emotional chaos. With no discipline or respect for the finances, I had been given. I was not financially planning for the future of my little family.
Because spending money felt better than saving it. Period.
That is immature.
The Ms. Know It All/Victim
Life sucks. I get it. Trust me. I get it. There was nothing fair about walking away from a marriage with $50K worth of debt in my name, no college degree and a baby in tow. Other than I chose to. I opted to leave an abusive marriage that I chose to be a part of. I took my debt and ran like hell, if hell could run, I was on fire out of that place!!!
So I am very sympathetic when I have come across someone that sounds a bit like this, “My financial situation is harder than yours,” which translates to, “You don’t Understand,” which translates to either “I know more than you” or “I am a victim of my circumstances. You weren’t.” Or something like that. Either way, both are foul excuses, and none are taking ownership of a poor financial state.
Money is money. Bad financial decisions are bad financial decisions.
I know. Because I lived them. The only difference in our stories? The amount of money we owe.
Another one that took me down, mom guilt. I still suffer from it, ladies. To this day, I fight mom guilt.
One of the best financial mistakes I made was Christmas 2008 when I decided to skip my December credit card payments and instead do Christmas BIG for my baby girl. I had been out of college for a year and was just making enough to pay my bills but not enough to be buyin’ happiness wrapped, guilt-induced, gifts placed under the tree.
But don’t you worry. Guilt met me that early December day and had me all convinced that I owed this to her. After all she had been through, all the moves, school changes, home changes, momma and daddy problems, I owed this Christmas to her. In a big way.
And that is what good guilt-ridden mom’s do right? Buy their children happiness.
No. No. No. that is not what we do…
Good mom’s, especially single moms, know life is going to be tough. They know finances are going to be scarce at times. And they need more than anyone to have the security and protection of a bank account that doesn’t scream, “Paycheck feed me” every Friday.
There are so many vulnerable and fragile variables to being a single mom, managing finances, and running an organized home that wouldn’t it be a great feeling to have no debt? Zero. Zilch. Not only no debt but a savings account with 3-6 months of expenses put aside?
What would you do if you had that? Could you change jobs? Could you launch your own business and work part time? Or could you simply relax and enjoy the little babes more after a stressful day at work because you know your finances are in fit condition?
This is why we should speak to more people about our finances. Put all that emotional baggage aside, roll up your sleeves, grab a bottle of wine and break open the conversation of debt.
One more thing.
That best mistake ever in December 2008? That is what led me to being out of control in my finances for the second time. To the point something had to change.
Take away: which of the five do you best relate to? Dave Ramsey says personal finance is 80% behavior and 20% head knowledge. If that is true how does any of the emotional baggage I mentioned help us get to the next level in our finances? And if it doesn’t, then why don’t more of us do something about it?