By: Dr. Gwen Smith

Women, and especially moms, on a daily basis experience challenges in empowering their lives towards achieving success. All too often these challenges are brought on by spouses or ex-spouses who are absentee fathers refusing to take on the responsibility as parents of their own children. Thus women find themselves being single moms or what I call married-single moms bearing it all.
Not only does this create challenges for the children in terms of connecting with their absent parent, it’s particularly stressful for moms who end up being both father and mother, as best as they can, to make ends meet. Playing the part of both parents, in addition to taking on the challenges of being the sole breadwinner, in more cases than we care to acknowledge, presents financial, and other challenges for women in pursuit of their goals and dreams.
They often give up hope continuing a desperate path of self-deprecation and loss of hope; a path which, with careful strategizing and consideration could be overcome sooner rather than later. As women, we are not victims of the circumstances or the cards life has dealt us. We have the power to overcome those conditions if we make it our mission to do so.
The reality may be that, single-handedly, this path may not come in a flash or hurry. However, even if it takes two, three or four years to come, those same years will come regardless of whether or not a vision is pursued. Its therefore a wise investment to start to create the life you want now, instead of waiting for the “right time to come”.
The starting for many is the challenge, because in their planning and thoughts they begin to lament unforeseen challenges, which if left in the future where they are, will no more likely become reality than they are in the present moment. And so they allow weeks to turn into months, then into years and before long decades have passed then the cry now becomes, “Im too old”.
If you’re a woman reading this, take it from me, that your current circumstance is not your final destiny. You have the power to rise up and to create your circumstance. I’ve done it in my life, and have been incredibly successful doing so, while raising single-handedly three children, holding down a full time job and taking graduate courses. It wasn’t easy. There were some decisions that I had to make about my spending and my finances. But I did it.
So how do you begin to take on a role of self-empowerment when it seems that time and resources are against you? For sure, for many single moms, the finances are a huge part of it. So this week, let’s talk about finances as the first step towards your empowerment.
Here are some practical steps to consider to help you empower yourself beyond the financial challenges that life presents.
1.Make a conscious note that you want something better. Know clearly what it is, then write it down. We often like to skip this step. Don’t.
2.Know at a minimum the first step that you’ll need to take to start. If you often like to stop and think about the entire process before getting started, just get started. The next step will show up as you go.
Is it that you’ll need additional funds to do what you need? Make a list of all the resources that could be available to you. Do you have a hobby or a skill that you can begin to pursue to generate additional income? Start planning on using it. You can also sell something around your home.
3.Create a spending plan to account for your dollars. With single moms, this is especially important. Know what your kids’ expenses are going to be for the school year (get this from the teacher at the beginning of the year) and lay your plans to reserve funds if you have excess, instead of spending it. This prevents them from feeling deprived if a need comes up.
There may be days that this cannot be avoided and after laying out all your expenses you may find that you have pennies left over. Avoid the temptation of putting your needs on a credit card if you can, as this creates more of a deficit where you dollars are gone before you get paid. There’s no feeling of relief in getting paid as this creates a burden for you knowing that you have to live through the process of spending your income on debt again. When you write it down, it really becomes vivid to you. A great resource to help you track your finances is Mint.
4.Involve your children who are old enough in the spending plan so they are aware of what is needed to run the household. They’ll be more understanding about it. Shop for clothing at Ross, Marshalls or TJ Maxx or Bealls Outlet if you are into brand names. You may even find gently used or new clothing at some consignment or thrift stores. It saves you a bunch of dollars and you get the same quality clothing at a fraction of the cost. Older children can be encouraged to do things around the community to generate dollars for their own wants.
5.Pay down your credit card debts if you have them. Pay a minimum on all cards except the one with the lowest balance. Use whatever extras you can pull together to pay as much as you can on that card with the lowest balance and keep focus until it’s paid off.
Then take that entire amount and add it to the minimum you were paying on the next lowest balance until that is paid off, and so on. You’ll be out of debt before you know it and enjoying the freedom of having your paycheck to spend as needed on other important things.
6.Shop for groceries that are on sale or use coupons, to get discounts. It’s probably best to get a membership at a warehouse store such as Costcos, Sams or BJ’s for example. Your dollar stretches and you can buy non-perishables in bulk.
As a mom, and especially a single mom, there’s no better feeling than knowing that you’re able to meet the expenses of your household, even if you have a deadbeat ex-spouse who neglects his responsibilities. This relieves a lot of mental stress and begins to free up your mind to focus on other areas of empowerment you need for your life.
In the next article we will talk about taking on other areas of your life to allow you to feel completely fulfilled and happy while raising your children.
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