Completely frustrated - need some advice

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-16-2003
Completely frustrated - need some advice
2
Mon, 04-21-2003 - 11:22am
Hi everyone! I'm new here and boy could I use some help! I am a 28 yr old single mom who CANNOT MANAGE HER MONEY AT ALL!!! I have been through 2 divorces - the 2nd one in 1997 forced me to file bankruptcy in 1999, so I know my credit rating sucks. What's even worse is that EVEN THOUGH I filed bankruptcy, I STILL GOT approved for MORE credit cards!!! Now I am not THAT far in debt, but I just am unable to get ahead and pay for what needs to be paid. I would bet that I am a compulsive shopper/spender.

I make $33k/yr and you'd THINK I'd be able to save some money. BUT NO. Every week it's a daily battle to make sure I have enough $ in my account to cover what checks I've written and the ATM transactions I've used. I don't use my 'new' credit cards - oh no - they are all maxxed out and some have been turned over to collections. I use "check n go" all the time - every time I get a pay check a portion goes to them, then I get another pay day advance, so it's all just a vicious cycle.

The first of the month is the worst - rent, car insurance AND car payment are due then. I don't even have enough take home pay to cover those 3 things - not to mention school lunches for my daughter, day care, gas/car maintenance, etc.

The main reason I am now so worried about this is because my BF and I are discussing moving in together, which will save me some money b/c we'll be splitting rent in 1/2. However, he makes a lot less $ than I do - so he thinks my life is all in control and that I'm financially sound. Now, I've never lied to him about my money situation - it's just never been brought up. I want to get this stuff all under control ASAP so that it's not going to be an issue when we move in.

I've tried getting a debt consolidation loan, but no one will approve me due to my credit.

HELP!

Avatar for phoenixmama
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-20-2003
Mon, 04-21-2003 - 1:02pm
I totally understand, I am a single mom too and boy is it hard! (BTW I'm in Michigan too!) Congratulations on taking the big step of getting honest with yourself and telling someone about it. Sometimes it's a lot easier to deal with financial problems when you can talk with others going through similar problems.

First thing that's helped me a lot personally, is Quicken. I highly recommend it. It's a $30 investment that can save you so much more in the long run. Or, start a spreadsheet or even just do it on paper.

Find yourself a chunk of time when you will be uninterrupted, maybe while your DD is doing homework or after she goes to bed. Gather all your financial papers together, bank statements, utility, cc, loan statements, everything you can find. Then figure out exactly where you stand as of right now. If you don't keep your checkbook up to date, update it now and promise yourself you'll keep it updated from now on. No more verifying and worrying before you go to the ATM - you'll always know your balance.

Look at what you owe when, get a calendar out, and figure out which upcoming paycheck will take care of which bills. Rent and car payment cannot wait, insurance may be more flexible. Call the insurance company and let them know you'll be late this month but will pay up on (date) and stick to it. If you don't have enough for rent and car payment in full on your upcoming paycheck, figure which is more flexible and be in touch with them. Also, are you paying for more car insurance than you really need? Consider reducing your coverage or at least shopping around for a better deal. I can recommend a great company if you want and I think we both get a bonus if I refer you.

Take a serious look at your cash spending and why you find yourself at the ATM so often. Track all your spending whether it's in a computer program or on paper - and honestly ask yourself which expenses are needs and which are wants. You'll probably find lots of places you could save by cutting out any expenses that are wants and not needs. You mentioned money for school lunches - how about packing a lunch? That money really adds up.

Now, once you know exactly where you stand, suck up your pride and be totally honest about it with your BF. And you should know exactly what his money situation is too. And ask yourself honestly why you want to live together, if saving money is a primary reason then don't do it. If you want to split rent with someone, you're probably better off with a roommate. If he makes less that you do, who gets more of an advantage when you move in together? And definitely consider all the other living expenses, not only rent. Who pays for food, utilities, entertainment, kids clothes and how will you split it? Is he willing and able to help when you come up short, and vice versa? What happens if one of you loses your job or becomes unable to work? Are you planning on getting married, or is this a move-in for convenience? If you're getting married, have you talked about prenups? Sorry if this comes across as badgering, but these are all serious questions that need to be answered before you make such an important decision. My BF and I were thinking of moving in together last year and in hindsight I am SOOO glad we didn't, we hadn't discussed any of the above questions and there are so many things that could have gone wrong.

For whatever it's worth, I hope this helps! Come on over to Affording Single Parenthood too if you want (I'm co-CL there), the board is kind of slow lately but maybe someone there can offer you more of the single mom perspective too. http://boards1.ivillage.com/cgi-bin/boards/mlsingleparentsclub

And hang in there, it does get easier to take control of your money, once you learn how. ~Jen

Avatar for cl_beckymk
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2003
Mon, 04-21-2003 - 11:30am
Hugs....Congratulations on starting to get this under control.

Have you tracked everything you spend? Every penny? That's always a good starting place. Also, track every penny of income. That way you can see the whole picture. You can't change what you don't know. Also, writing down everything you owe, that is a hard step but necessary. See if there is anywhere to cut down on (groceries tends to be a big one...shop Aldi's if you have one or Sav-a-lot, etc...)

There is a Compulsive Spenders board here that can also help you http://messageboards.ivillage.com/iv-mlcompulsive

As for you BF, if you are planning on moving in, you are going to need to sit down and have a serious talk about all the financial implications, etc...

Please keep posting here for emotional support as you work your way out of debt.

Becky