I receive comments on my blog everyday. Some are happy, some are angry, and some just hit my heart like a ton of bricks.
Today, I received one of those comments.
A reader came across our story of how we survived on $14 an hour. In that post, we break down the exact budget we used to live on $14 an hour during our first year of marriage. It was a tight budget, but we made the most of it, and even saved a little money at the same time.
Marie dropped by in the comments section to tell me her story. It weighed on my heart, so I wanted to post it here, and my response to her to try and give some hope to her situation.
I can see how 2 people can do it on their incomes. I am single parent of a college student and I make under 13 an hour. I have house and utilities, college, car and I am broke every week after I pay all my bills, maybe $25 to live on for 2 weeks. I have to work at least 2 days a week overtime so I can buy food. There are no deductions I can get, I already checked. So what is someone like me suppose to do? I can’t get ahead. I can’t even afford to take a vacation let alone buy food to eat. It should be against the law for us to be put in this situation, they have all kinds of tax breaks for rich people or people that don’t work and we are paying for it. I have to suffer because I have to take care of all the people that choose to not and live off of the system. They are better off than I am. What kind of self worth does someone like that have? I could not, in my head, ever lower myself to that level.
Marie is in a tough spot, it’s easy to see why she is losing heart. With her responsibilities and income, she can barely put food on the table.
I wanted to address her situation, and ended up writing out 6 steps she could take to help get her head above water and start to take back control of her financial situation.
Thank you so much for reaching out, my heart hurts hearing your story and struggle here.
Here are a few things I’d look at, because it seems you won’t be able to keep your head above water here without some major changes:
1) Find a support community. Single moms are strong, but having a support team around you will give you that much more to help build you up. Local Christian churches are HUGE into helping those who are in difficult situations, especially single moms. Find a local church you trust and lean into their resources for helping give you the support you need. This is HUGE!
2) As much as it hurts, college is not a requirement to live. Skipping groceries to put your kid through college is NOT the right move here. They will need to find work and help pay their own way thru, even if it takes a year or two longer. This will also build EXTRA hustle and character to go and kill it in the professional world when graduated.
3) Make a basic budget, with ONLY the necessities listed. That means, Food, Shelter, Transportation, Clothing. No extras, no eating out, no entertainment (until your situation stabilizes). Do everything in your power to say “NO” to anything outside of this budget. Check out my “Emergency Budget” post HERE
4) Car payment needs to go. This means finding a way to sell it, pay off the loan, and have cash to buy a basic used car to get by. We’re talking a $2k – $3k, 10-year old Honda Civic or similar car. If you are upside down on the loan, my boy Peach but together a GREAT article detailing all the steps to get out of it – http://www.moneypeach.com/help-my-car-is-upside-down/ – In the meantime, if possible, find alternate transportation to work and back. Car gas and insurance can cost a lot, even with no car payment, so having an alternate to car commuting would be ideal.
5) After you do the above (I know it will be tough, these are HUGE changes, but necessary), it’s time to find more income. I’ve got a list of 20 things here – http://www.iheartbudgets.net/2013/03/20-ways-to-make-money/
There are also some great side hustles you can find HERE and HERE. The point here is to get some extra income to build a cushion and savings to help you get back above water.
6) TAKE. A. DEEP. BREATH. I just dropped some monumental tasks in your lap, but you’ve fought and struggled and made it this far, I know you have the power to make these changes and take back control of your financial life. I’ve struggled to make ends meet, worked 3 jobs before, and have counseled people out of debt, and the one thing that helps all of them win is HOPE. Do not lost hope here, there is always a way. It’s all about how much effort and life change you are willing to make to get there. Take it 1 step at a time.
I hope this helps, I know what I asked of you is difficult, but it’s better than the alternative of drowning in debt and not being able to put food on the table. You are a single mom, you already have 10x more built-in hustle than any regular human being, and you are far stronger than you even know.
For any of you that are struggling to get your money in order, realize that there is ALWAYS A WAY.
It may not be easy, but it is possible.
I hope this post can show that no matter your situation, there is always opportunity to take back your financial life.
Comments: Have you ever been in a situation where you were unable to pay all your bills? What did you do about it? What are some tips you would have for Marie here?