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

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:

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

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