Dealing with the Debt Elephant in the Room

I’ve taken longer than originally planned to get myself together as a Single Mom.  It has taken me longer to do everything as an SM than planned.  I have learned a whole lot along the way – but for now we’ll categorize my life as a work in progress.  I’ve weaved in and out of being in shape (after two divorces I can tell you nothing motivates to get in shape like misery), have been ok financially and then I haven’t, have had diet highs and lows, and have gone a bunch of rounds with anxiety and depression.

It shouldn’t come as any surprise when I feel best.  When I sleep well, eat well, am exercising regularly, have the bills paid with a buffer in my savings account, am many sizes away from needing my stretchy pants, and grab onto that girl with no baggage vibe for more than ten minutes in one day.  Yeah – you know the one.  She’s fun and relaxed and up for anything – not a care in the world.  I love that girl.  I like when she shows up.  I notice she shows up when I’m doing all the things I said before.  Sleep, eat well most of the time, exercise, manage money like a grown up, repeat.  Nights like tonight where I eat fries + wings (ok fine and cheesecake) and curl up in a ball watching Netflix keep that girl at a distance.  Not exactly feeling like I am living my best life.  Pass the blue cheese dip and shhhh, Queen of the South is about to start.

So, what’s a Single Mom to do?  Pretty sure it starts with “Please step away from the wings slowly”.  Then, pick something…one small piece of the list that I can improve on.  The one that causes the most stress in my life?  Debt.  Budget. Finances.  Just going to finish this piece of cheesecake and then let’s talk.

No matter who you are or what your scenario when you became a Single Mom your financial situation changed.  I would love to think it got better – there was a massive payout when you split, you got the house of your dreams, you’re never going to have to work again, and your financial advisor just called to say you have insane gains in your Nest Egg account.  I have never heard of this story actually happening but I really wish it would to a deserving SM.  Ok wait. Khloe Kardashian is living this but let’s go with this not being the norm.

The reality is when a couple splits things get cut in half.  All that was one turns into two.  Expenses go up and incomes fluctuate.  If you are making Support payments you just took a huge hit in the wallet.  And if you’re getting support payments you were probably used to a much larger combined income.  And life throws the non-stop curve balls it likes to send our way.  I have been weathering some financial storms lately just don’t seem to be giving way anytime soon.  So, again…what’s a Single Mom to do?  The obvious choice of hiding my head under the covers hasn’t solved anything yet so hello financial plan.

When I started doing my homework to try to figure my way out of this mess I realized there is no shortage of personal finance blogs and vehicles to help you find your way.  I put my head down, read some books, checked out some apps and websites and then came up with a list of the things that were most important to me.

  1. I need to pay off a significant amount of debt and as soon as possible.  I need help finding every penny that I can direct towards that debt.  This is what is keeping me from living life the way I want to.
  2. I have to understand my finances.  Before I spend any time figuring out how to budget my money I need to understand where it’s all going.  Because it’s ALL going..and then some.
  3. Setting a budget and sticking to it is high on the list of things I want help with.
  4. The kids education fund needs to be taken care of.  As a Single Mom I need to make sure when my kids start looking at post-secondary education I have the means to help them.
  5. Savings accounts for the big important life items need to be established.  An emergency fund for job loss, a retirement account, a car, and a downpayment on a house (and once I have a house an account to cover annual expenses).
  6. The fun stuff deserves some airtime too.  Even if it only means a day trip to a local museum is the most I can afford I need a vacation account.
  7. I love Christmas and every year the joy it brings gets clouded under trying to figure out how on earth I am going to pay for it.  Saving over the course of the year is a much better option.

This is the list.  These are the things that change my life.  I’m 43 years old and am behind on all of these things so on top of this list, I need to catch up for lost time and lost money.

Stay tuned in the coming posts for more details on how I’m tackling this list and the ways I’m working to change my life.

Even taking this first step to change feels so much better than wallowing in fear and self pity.  Here we go!

 

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