January 25, 2013 at 4:50 pm #1215
I am going to keep this as short and sweet as possible, however my life fits nowhere in those parameters, so…
I am a single mom after having loaded my kids in the vehicle and ran 4 yrs ago. My ex was very abusive and controlling–ie, not allowed off the property without him, he dictated everything in our lives (what we ate, wore, etc), and I was *never* allowed to know anything about the finances. I grew up in a similar situation and was married off to him and for the first time in my life in my early 40′s am ‘on my own’.
I have my first full time job starting next Weds for the first time in a very very long time. The last few years have been strictly survival…starting on healing, staying with friends who opened their homes to us while I got over being a complete basket case. Am 1.5yrs into being ‘out on my own’ now. I’ve worked PT, but never many hours-it’s hard to get a good job when your teeth are knocked out. Friend bought me teeth, and now I have a job, thank the Lord. The last 1.5 yrs though I’ve racked up debt to keep a roof over our heads and the bills paid. We don’t own a TV, we don’t do anything extra, my priorities have been rent, electric, water, internet (I keep in touch with my counselors that way). I don’t even have a phone. There isn’t much I CAN cut…well, there isn’t really anything I can cut.
Now that I will have income coming in though, that will cover those things, I am determined to get the debt paid off. I *hate* owing anyone. I have some credit, and some with individuals that were generous enough to loan me rent and such when I didn’t have it. That said, I am feeling overwhelmed. I am months behind on the credit cards, quit opening them 3 months ago. I am realizing that doesn’t make them go away *rolls eyes* How does one know how to balance things out, though? My kids need clothes, shoes, etc….I do not pay retail for anything, never have. I know how to make a penny scream for mercy. What I am feeling overwhelmed with is how to line all of this out…which seems rather stupid to me, but I’ve simply never been taught. Can someone point me in the right direction of how to do this, please?January 25, 2013 at 10:33 pm #1218
My name is Krischa Esquivel and I am a part of the Brass Knuckle Finance Team. I specialize in working with woman/moms coming out of relationships and coach them as they learn how to “be on their” own and learn what it means to maintain a household and know EVERYTHING about their personal finances. I have learned through my personal experience of doing this that sharing my story and guiding other woman is my way of giving back.
1. I applaud you for getting out of an abusive relationship and taking control of YOU, your future and the future of your children. One of the most difficult things is to break free emotionally and realize this IS something you can do. I understand survival mode and doing whatever is necessary to survive-credit card usage included.
2. I applaud you for finding and maintaining an awesome support system. It can be tough to admit you need help and then accept it. It’s not until we are at our lowest that we realize how many resources we have right in front of us.
3. A BIG congratulations on obtaining a full time job! I can only imagine the excitement and hope for a better future this brings you.
Now onto your question: how to line up/budget all your expense and pay down your debt. Believe it or not, you know the answer and you have been doing it: stick to the necessities! As a single mother this is what is needed:
(in your case)Internet to maintain a connection with your counselors who are a big part of your support and progress.
Continue to “make a penny scream” and not pay retail. Continue to keep your priorities in order as you have done, do NOT use credit cards anymore. No, they will not disappear, but you need to be realistic with yourself and with the credit card companies about your financial situation. Be honest and let them know you are unable to make payments right now. The paying down of debt will happen slowly but surely. Right now you are in a new type of survival mode which includes creating and maintaining a budget and building a savings/emergency fund. As a single parent, your emergency fund becomes paramount to your piece of mind and to the continued financial success for you and your children should the unexpected happen (and it will).
Utilizing ALL resources afforded to you as a single mother is another step you should take. For example, many states offer free or low cost health insurance for children . Yes, you need health insurance as well and utilizing free or low cost insurance for your children will free up funds for YOU to be covered as well.
Another resource you may want to look into as your continue to navigate being on your own is housing. First and foremost your rent should not exceed 25% of your gross income. There are co-op living agencies that pair single mothers with each other. These programs are excellent in that it allows for single mothers to live in a safer neighborhood, share expenses and household duties with other single mothers, thus decreasing the stress level for everyone. Here is a link to one such agency:
Once you establish your budget and actually see what is left over each month, you can slowly start paying down the credit card with the lowest balance, but this may not happen for awhile, and that’s okay. Part of getting out of debt is being realistic about what you can do NOW and accepting the things you cannot. Your goal at the moment is to get out of survival mode and to be able to start living. To do this, continuing to focus on the most BASIC priorities: food, shelter, health, and a savings, will be paramount to not only your financial success, but to your personal and emotional success as well.
Your situation may seem overwhelming at the moment, but believe me when I say, it will get better. As you accomplish milestones: saving $250, saving $500 creating a budget and maintaining food for your children, you will be able say YOU did this, YOU accomplished this and the momentum begins. Small steps are what start a journey, but as long as you keep moving you are progressing. Your children are watching, your children are grateful and that will be your guiding force during the journey ahead.
Thank you for posting and for sharing your amazing story.January 31, 2013 at 2:16 pm #1310
I agree that you are doing all the right things. Set aside your worries about credit card debt and make sure you are heating healthy and getting good sleep. Starting a full time job is a big deal. Understand your rights not to be hassled by your credit card companies while you get caught up.
My spouse – who was abusive and has an untreated mental illness – is now out of my house and now that I have control of my finances it is an opportunity to feel more in control of my life – even if that means paying down debt.
Check to see if your employer has a credit union or if there is one in your community that you can join- they can be a terrific resource for helping you organize your finances. Mine has very low interest-rate credit cards and all checking and savings services are free to members. Even things like fees for a bounced check are much lower. They don’t take advantage of their members. Good luck!