I have now been a single mother for three years and I’ve lived alone with my daughter for almost two. For a while now I’ve been classed as self employed as I couldn’t face going back to shift work with the uncertainty who was going to be there for my little girl. I have retrained as an accountant, but while living in a small town there is limited jobs. I saw self employment as the best way to juggle both my finances and my family.
Going back three years ago, I had no idea how I was going to survive on my own. I had lived away from home since I was 18, but at first it was in student accommodation, then it was with a boyfriend, then friends followed by another boyfriend. I had never had full control over the financial runnings of a house. Although I have always been good with money, I’m also very practical and I knew the money that was needed to keep a home afloat. This was a scary realisation as not only did I have myself to look out for, but I had a child. I was only 25 and in many ways I still felt like a child myself. I spent a year living with my mother and working as a waitress to get some money behind me before I final felt ready to move out with Little Miss and try and keep my head above water and give my daughter everything she deserved. After all, that is a parent’s number one prerogative.
It’s not been easy. It took me a lot longer to stand on my own two feet without financial help from my parents (something I hadn’t had in years!) There is of course help out there for single mothers so it doesn’t feel like you only have one income to run a two bedroom house, but you still need to find the right balance if you want to lead a happy and full life. I had to decide what was important. I chose to save money to go on trips away rather than have a full social life in my hometown. Because that is what I felt was important. I started to learn the ways of eBay and I had a system.. whatever I sold on there the money was then extra that I could use for treats for both LM and I. I have expensive taste in make up and skincare, and I like LM to have handmade clothes. I became more comfortable in buying my own clothes second hand, and browsing selling groups and gumtree for second hand toys for LM. She isn’t an ungrateful child as long as the item was in good condition and she could play with it, I was happy. I became cash back savvy when it came to big purchases and whenever I do shop online for brand new I remember to check voucher code websites as there is nearly always some kind of promotion running. For days away and days out I save club card and store card points, they’re great for meals out, cinema tickets and I always use the Boots on to buy toiletries needed for holidays.
But my one goal was to take my daughter to a Disney park. I was incredibly blessed to win a competition with Best British Bloggers which gave me the money to cover flights up the rest I had to seriously sit down and budget for. I budget on a day to day basis but I also budget on the long term, giving myself monthly goals of what needs saved so I can pay for certain aspects of the trip. I worked hard at this, so much so that it has now become a part of our day to day life. In April I achieved that dream. On Monday 6th April I walked through the gates to Magic Kingdom and gave my daughter the best 10 days of her life. And I cannot express the pride I feel in myself for achieving that goal. It was worth the penny pinching and finding ways to have a whole life while saving for a fantastic holiday.
Three years on I’ve learned that being a single mother does not mean a life of poverty, it means a life of making the right choices and deciding what is important to us as a family unit. Although at the moment my budgeting and financial planning doesn’t extend further than next year eventually I want to be so organised that I’m thinking of the long term future. Legal & General have put together some information about planning for the future with some life insurance that once again has me thinking. I do have a will that secures a safe future for my daughter, but as of yet, nothing financial in place. I think it’s time to change that.