What it's Really Like to be a Broke Single Mom
Writing this post is a bold move, but I want this reality to be put out there. There are a lot of people living it, and I want them to know that they aren't alone.
I cannot afford rent. That's a weird feeling. One I've never felt until this season of life, at least not as an adult. I'll share a little of my story and some of my financial background...
When I was a girl, our family of 6 lived on one income. We had no savings, we wore hand-me-downs, we wrote post-dated checks for groceries we couldn't afford yet, and sometimes we borrowed money from our church to pay the rent at our tiny house. I never resented my parents for any of that, but I wanted to live differently. I wanted to feel secure.
That last word is important.
As a teen with a job, I paid all my bills right away. I paid my parents for my car insurance and gas. I bought my first car for $400. I worked 2 (sometimes 3) jobs to pay my bills, some of my fiancé's expenses, and saved about $1000 by the time we got married.
After we got married, I continued to work, but wasn't allowed to spend any of my money, or have access to my bank account. We both worked, and spend so little that we saved an average of $10,000 a year, although no one knew this. People thought we were poor, and would often pay for our meals and gift us money. I felt terrible, but wasn't allowed to say anything.
Fast-forward many very painful years, I told my husband that he could keep anything he wanted in the divorce. He wanted it all. And more. The savings, the house we owned, the retirement plans, even the tax deduction for claiming the kids. (Even though I have them most of the time) A strong person would have said "No, absolutely not." But I was not strong at that time, I was on the brink of suicide. I was worn out, empty, completely spent of all emotional and mental power, and I just had to run away and escape, like a victim of kidnapping that finally broke free. I had no lawyer, and no strength left. I can't stress that enough.
I had saved about $2,000 from a side job I'd been working cleaning campers, which I used to move into an apartment with the kids. The three of us shared one bedroom, and a girl I knew stayed in the other room and shared rent with us. We slept on the floor the first few weeks. We ate canned soup from Aldi and potatoes and free food from Starbucks, where I worked part time every morning at 4:30 while my kids slept. I brought my youngest to work with me at my second job, stocking cards in stores for Hallmark. I had no car when I moved out, so my brother gave me money to buy an old vehicle, which to date, is still breaking down as often as it can manage. Haha. After a few months I was approved for food stamps, which was the most incredible blessing. I can still remember sobbing in my closet when I found out I was approved. Having $400/month to buy real, healthy food for my kids was too wonderful to comprehend! While I was married I was heavily monitored when grocery shopping, so I can't describe to you the joy and freedom I found when walking the aisles of Kroger and knowing I could choose whatever I thought was best. I danced in the kitchen as I put them away. My heart beamed with praise to God.
Throughout this past year, I have never quite had "enough" income, which should have felt insecure and unstable, but God always came through somehow. Some generous soul would message me out of the blue with gifts to keep me afloat financially. Relatives, friends, blog readers, customers at Starbucks, even complete strangers! But I always knew it was from God. And little by little, I began to understand that money is not, and never would be, my security. It was always God. And always will be.
At the time of writing this, things are still not secure. My sweet roommate has moved out, I have no idea how I will begin paying her half of the rent. I have run around in circles trying to figure out low-income housing, but my kids are begging to stay in this lovely apartment that has become our home. My bills have gone up, my food stamp allowance has gone down. Every door I try to enter for additional income seems closed. Ace (my youngest) has difficulties from his medical history that make it very stressful for his sister to watch him, so I've had to quit my second job, and he comes to work with me at Starbucks every morning. My ex-husband won't agree to letting me put Ace in school, so I can't work outside the home during the day.
I'm trying to do creative, entrepreneurial things online to make money, but my brain hurts like crazy from Complex PTSD, which is so much more real than I used to think. I'm in survival mode every second, but have to perform every duty anyway as a mom, an employee, a homeschool teacher, a housekeeper, a friend...it's not going super well. I'm $400/month short of paying my bills, let alone life expenses, and my car only starts *sometimes.*
When you're broke, your life is different. You don't take vacation...you don't even drive to the next town because of gas. You don't take your kids clothes shopping, you hope the consignment store takes enough of their old stuff to trade for a few pair of pants for the new size they're in. You don't buy them new shoes unless you've donated plasma. A broken windshield wiper arm can set you back months. I'm not making this up. This is real life in America for a single parent with no college degree or career.
Does it sound scary? It probably should. But here is what I KNOW: God!
God loves me.
God controls the whole universe.
I am secure.
I'm going to show you what God does when you trust him, so stay tuned and when I find out, you will too. :) I'm super excited.
Love you so much!
It's so hard to be in that place ❤️ I've been there and it's hard. But you're right God will do amazing things ❤️ReplyDelete
Praying for abundant blessing over your life, for the exact right open doors at the exact right time, in a way that could only be GOD! He wont start failing you now! Claiming financial breakthrough over you!ReplyDelete
I would also like to contribute if you share your Venmo!ReplyDelete
But, God. I know how this story ends. 💜ReplyDelete
Federal tax law is on the side of the parent who actually cares for the children having the children live with them for the most time: https://www.hrblock.com/tax-center/filing/dependents/claiming-children-on-taxes/ReplyDelete
In addition to official food support programmes, I hope you can check out a food bank (https://www.feedingamerica.org/find-your-local-foodbank), food pantry or Little Free Pantry https://www.littlefreepantry.org/. The income qualifications may surprise you, SO MANY of them allow you to select your own items and basically all will take back items that you can't use if you get a pre-made bag, and speaking as a volunteer I can say it is a joy to be able to give support in this wayReplyDelete
I know the issue is probably much more complicated than this, but if you stop homeschooling your youngest, law requires he attend school (no matter what your ex has to say about it...).ReplyDelete
I pray God continue to restore your emotional strength so that you can advocate for what you need and deserve to care for yourself and your children. I’ve been following you for a decade or more and I watching you go through what you have experienced in the last few years is both heartbreaking and hopeful.ReplyDelete
Oh Disney😭 I too have been following since Paige was a toddler and I’ve always been so inspired by you. Sending enormous love and prayers your way💕 hang in there!! Sometimes God sends us these trials just so he can send us miracles!! You are in his loving hands.ReplyDelete