Being a single mom who is a woman of color presents many obstacles in this country. Collectively, woman of color are devalued, and mothers are discriminated against. Let’s talk about what this means for how to manage your money as a single mom.
In episode 72, we heard from Dyana King of Money Boss Mama. She takes us on her money journey as a single mom and how she has raised her two kids while paying off debt, all on a single income. About four years later, she is now debt-free. This took work. Read on for some of the practices she used and what we’ve learned from other mommas we’ve had on the show, like Cat Del Carmen, Fabi Paolini, and Elaine Gonzalez-Johnson. Here are six ways on how to manage your money as a single mom:
1. Start With Why
Dyana put it best:
“Your vision is your compass. When you know where you want to go, you can develop a plan.”
Many of the moms on our show have expressed a feeling of deep exhaustion and stress at some point in their lives, especially when it comes to balancing motherhood with things like entrepreneurship. Without thinking through the real reason for why you want to better manage your money as a single mom, it will be that much easier to quit when things get tough.
Dyana’s why, for example, was to be able to be a mom for her kids. The ultimate push to bettering her financial situation came when she faced a moment where she couldn’t provide for her daughter. Honing in even closer, she wanted to be able to provide for basic necessities for her child; later, it became to show her daughter in particular that she is worthy of being wealthy.
Start with your why, and then begin drawing up a plan using the SMART goal framework.
2. Invest In Your Personal Finance Education
Time is our greatest asset and currency. As a single mom, you may not have a lot of extra time for yourself. So while this next one might sound difficult, the benefits are exponential because you will better understand the system that tries to keep you down.
Listen to personal finance podcasts (like ours!), talk to your friends and family, read a personal finance book, read through finance blogs, watch YouTube videos that answer your money questions—do what you need to do to feel equipped with basic personal finance information!
But remember: the journey to personal finance does not need to look a certain way. Dyana, for example, talked about not really finding the personal finance sphere until she was already deep into her debt pay-off journey. You don’t have to start off at level 100! But you do have to start somewhere. If you’re here, you’re doing a great job already. Continue.
3. Work On Your Credit
One of the first things Dyana learned about in her personal finance education journey was the impact of credit—this was to blame for her high interest rates on her loans. So one of the first things she did was focus on increasing her credit score. In about one year, her score had improved by 100 points, and this now meant slightly lower interest rates, AKA less total debt!
The credit reporting system is trash. It is supposed to be race-neutral, but this is impossible; it is a biased, racist system. If we don’t know how to manipulate it to our advantage, we will be at its mercy; this can cost you thousands a year, depending on your debt amount and interest rates.
Single mothers, like Dyana, have to stretch every dollar. Stop sending yours to big banks and loan companies!
4. Increase Your Income
Saving can only take you so far. The best move you can make for your financial situation is to work on increasing your income. First place to look to: your current job. If you’re working full-time, negotiate that salary. If you’re a woman of color, there’s a high probability that you’re getting underpaid. It’s time to demand more and demand better: check out our guide on how to negotiate your salary.
If you’re working part-time, can you negotiate a promotion? Can you apply to a higher ranking, higher earning position based on the experience you now have? Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate.
We start with negotiating where you currently are, rather than pursuing a side hustle, because we know single mothers are already stretched thin on time. But something in common between all three of the momma guests we mentioned earlier is that they each pursued something entrepreneurial. If you have capacity, start that side hustle. Got something you enjoy doing and think you’re good at? Find a way to monetize it! Or check out our list of 20 side hustles you can start today.
5. Stick To A Budget
Knowing your cash flow is important, period. But when you’re a single mother and are trying to raise your kids on a single income, this becomes extra crucial. Best way to understand your cash flow? Stick to a budget!
There is no prescription budget; a budget is personal. You may even try one out and realize it’s not the one for you. Read through our guide to learn about your budgeting options and how to choose a budgeting method that’s right for you.
Even though you are a mother, you are still your own person. Your budget should not only reflect your priorities and necessities, but should also reflect how you show up for yourself. If getting your nails done every now and then makes you feel your best self, you can budget that in! For example, on top of your necessities, debt payoff, and any savings goals, you can budget for a monthly $40 manicure. Never neglect yourself, because if you do, this journey will be miserable.
6. Extra Income = Savings or Debt Payoff
This is one of our favorite tips that Dyana gave! When she had any bonuses, tips, or tax refund, she had several options for where to send it. The easy, tempting thing to do is to spend it. You didn’t budget for it, so it makes it feel like this isn’t “serious” money. But when you have a clear, SMART-framed plan, you’ll know exactly where you can send this extra money to when it comes. Because you have this plan, you will be less tempted to spend this money on things you will not even remember.
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