Interview: Read how a single mom survives within $42K annually

By: on 2015-07-21
Ask Sanders Patricia

An exclusive interview taken by Patricia Sanders

International Women’s Day (March 8) is just round the corner. It is a great opportunity to appreciate all women’s accomplishment. As a woman and a writer, I shouldn’t miss out the chance to reflect their progress on economic, social and political ground. And of course, their courage deserves our recognition as well. Here I’m introducing a 38 year old woman, Jennifer a divorced single mother of 2 children, to appreciate her positive mentality towards life. This interview is her confession on how she takes care of kids and family within $42,000 each year. Her own words are so inspiring that you can’t stop yourself from reading the whole interview.

Me: Please introduce yourself to our readers.

Jennifer: Hi, I am Jennifer. I live in Baltimore DC. I am a single mom of 2 kids (3 and 4 years old). I work in a small non-profit farm.

Me: How much is your yearly income?

Jennifer: I earn $42.000 in a year.

Me: Do you have any savings account? Any benefits such as insurance coverage or retirement account?

Jennifer: I don’t have any savings account as I live paycheck to paycheck. I don’t have a retirement account too. There are so many other things to fix instead of thinking about retirement. But yes, I have a health insurance coverage for myself . But currently It become difficult for me to pay the premiums.

Me: What is your current status?

Jennifer: I got divorced 2 years ago. Currently I’m a single mother of 2 children. And I do share the custody of my children with my ex-husband. As per the agreement, I have to pay all the childcare cost. These includes school related costs, lunches, field trips and equipments.

Me: How do you manage your life? I mean things are not so easy as you have a small income and have so many liabilities on your shoulder!

Jennifer: Definitely, things are not so easy in my life. As I told you before, I am dependent on my paycheck. Now my first priority is to meet the child care cost and the rent. I create a strict budget and stick to it as there are so many other expenses. Currently, I’m trying to negotiate with the utility companies to get a minimum amount which I can pay. I also negotiated to lower down my rent. You must know how to negotiate in order to maintain a balanced life Patricia. As I know the child care cost is too high so I just can’t afford it along other expenses. So, I discussed my situation with child care provider. I have tried my best to negotiate with the cost. They have arranged flexible payments for me. I got some discounts as both of my kids got admission as well.

Apart from these, there are still groceries where I still need to be very rigid while shopping. Definitely, I make menus for the week and shop accordingly with a list previously made by me. Usually, I take bus or public transport while travelling for office. I rarely drive to save money on fuel. But I think all these are secondary. For me, the primary task is to take care of my children, and feed them.

Me: Why don’t you relocate to a cheaper place? I think you can manage things better than here in Baltimore, DC.

Jennifer: I would love to move a cheaper place. But, I can’t relocate to a cheaper place. As per the custody law, I can’t even consider to relocate unless I give up the custody. Which I never want to do.

Me: Do you think that things will be better in future? Why don’t you think about second source of income? There are so many online jobs, freelancing jobs available now.

Jennifer: Oh yes! I am very much hopeful about my future. I know things are quite difficult for me. But I’m confident, because I will never mind to work hard to make my children happy and get a better life in future. But, right now I have to spend some quality time with my kids. I am a student of Arts and I love writing on various topics.

So, whenever I feel like, I have some extra time to find an online part time job to make some extra bucks. I’ll definitely utilize the time and my knowledge. Besides, I can find a better paying job as well. Lets hope for the best (smile).

Me: If you don’t mind, can you disclose the breakdown of your whole expenses? This will be helpful for our readers.

Jennifer: Oh sure! The total calculation is like

Monthly rent: $1,250
Child care cost: $1,375
Fuel and electricity bills: $70
Credit card bills: $160
Prepaid cell phone bill: $30
Grocery bill: $ 395-400
Medication cost: $110
Cable connection and Internet cost: $100

Let me explain in detail. I live in an apartment and the rent is $1250 including utility. The gas and the electricity bills can vary as it depends on weather. Recently, I’m trying to cut down the Internet expenses as I hardly use it due to lack of time. I need to pay off my husband’s due credit card bills too and that is terrible. I’m trying my best to keep the grocery bills under $395-400 to save some bucks. Thus I can manage unexpected expenses. Finally, I can save approx $4-9K. Recently, I’m thinking to save some money to buy medical insurance for my kids. Thats all.

Me: Do you want to give some tips to other single mothers who are struggling with kids?

Jennifer: I’m honored Patricia, Yes, I’ve learned a lot from my life. Here’s some of my tricks:

  1. Set thermostat at 60 degree (F) in winter. Wear winter clothes to save gas.
  2. Try to become a member of Costco to get things in bulk with big discounts.
  3. Goodwill store is very cost effective place to get dresses and daily necessities. But check thoroughly the expiry date before buying.
  4. You need to negotiate a lot to save some money.

Me: Jennifer, it was so nice and inspiring to talk with you. Thanks for taking time to talk with me. You’re a role model for every lion hearted single mom. Your interview will show a new path to struggling single moms this International women's Day. A big salute to you and to your effort from our team. Thank you!

Jennifer: Thanks. I’m honored too. A big hug to you from me and from my kids.

Last Updated on: Tue, 21 Jul 2015

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