I have to admit: I wish I had more money. Please do not misunderstand me in thinking that I remember my blessings that can never be bought. I have a son that melts me when I walk in after work. My parents are amazing and have allowed my son and me to live with them while we get back on our feet. I have 3 sisters I actually do like (some more than others on given weeks) and one is pregnant with my first nephew. I am not ugly, do not struggle with my weight that bad and have way too many clothes to every worry about having to buy more. I have a job that pays above minimum wage, health care for me and my son, and a car that I can (barely) afford the car payment, insurance and gas for. Even more, my family eats every meal (sadly a lot in fast food restaurants); we have clean running water and NEVER have worried about a place to sleep.
But after this week my account will be in the negative until next paycheck. And even that paycheck has already been accounted for in the names of childcare, gas, a court payment, student loan payment and oil change.
It is not an epic problem and certainly one that is common. Millions of Americans are experiencing debt in the thousands of dollars, claiming bankruptcy, running out of unemployment checks and experiencing a checking account in the red as a result of the dwindling economy. It still does not make it easier when it’s you. I honestly wouldn’t be so scared because I’ve experienced it as a high school kid making dumb choices with my money. Account overdrawn and 1 phone call to parents I get it loaned until I can make some more. Now I have another life to take care of. He is completely dependent of his every need on my ability to provide. One inch more of toe and he needs another set of shoes. Not to mention the evolutionary detail of having to feed this child not just a meal every night but a healthy one in that. Thank goodness for those broccoli shells and cheese containers at Wal-Mart. Another illness and it’s a copayment, prescription payment and day off work. All of this with no child support from the father. Many single parents can relate to this next sentence: someday you just want to give up. It never seems to be enough and the worst part is you’re selfish side wants to peak out of the hole and say “What about me! I haven’t had a pedicure in weeks (or insert any splurge here)!” Just as quickly as the thought arrives the next feeling is of course guilty because your child did not choose to born to a poor single parent. The best part is for young children they most likely do not know you’re poor. Playing in the hose outside and eating macaroni and cheese, while a sign of a parent who cannot afford water parks and better dinners, for most kids is paradise.
However, my fear is for my child’s future. I do not want my son at 10 to not be able to sign up for baseball because I cannot afford the signup fee, the uniforms, and the cleats and to help buy snacks for the kids at games. I worry about him at 14 wanting to get a job to pitch in for the bills. I REALLY worry about him after high school not having his option of doing what he needs to do and going into the same financial habits he saw his mom do while growing up.
So my resolve today to myself, and to my readers, is that wallowing in your sadness that you do not have money IS ok. You have 48 hours to wallow. Then get up and make a plan. My plan includes getting a second job or side job and using all of that income STRICLY for debt reduction. I am carving away $1000 of my next tax refund for a CD and to start investing in my son’s college 529 plans by the beginning of 2012. I will be enrolled in the University of Phoenix communication program. From there I will wait to see where my path takes me. It will be overwhelming at times, exhausting at others and the end point is not even to be wealthy or to quit being broke. It’s to allow my son to know that giving up is not an option. As long as your alive and we have each other we’ve won.