Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Money Matters For Single Moms Especially
It's not that I'm obsessed with money, it's more the money management that I crave knowledge of, how can any single mother properly tend to a family, large or small, without the all-consuming, constant quest for financial education?
Suze Orman is a genius, I love her TV shows and her books, this article spoke volumes to me today.
So often I get voluminous emails from women who want to adopt children, asking how to get started. Get your own house in order first, starting with money management. Foreign adoptions are expensive, domestic adoptions are subsidized, but still extraordinarily difficult over the ensuing years.
Sarah sent me to the New York Times Magazine this week which is about money. I read every word with the rapt interest only a nerd could possibly muster up.
From another great article:
"I had interviewed people with very modest incomes who had taken out big loans. Yet for all that, I was stunned at how much money people were willing to throw at me.
Bob called back the next morning. “Your credit scores are almost perfect,” he said happily. “Based on your income, you can qualify for a mortgage of about $500,000.”
Thank God I never fell for that. I'm equity rich and cash poor, thankfully I never took out a home equity loan that I'd have been subsequently unable to repay. The Simple Dollar recently had a great post about the best money is money not spent in the first place.
He argues, "While I certainly appreciate the value of earning more, I argue that spending a dollar less is significantly more valuable than earning a dollar more."
But what Sarah found the most fascinating came in this article where the apparently demonic credit card folks are even tracking how worried you must be when you check your balance owed at 2 a.m. They see you.
If anything I err on the side of frugality into penny-pinching, but at least I keep this large family afloat. I've modeled good spending (or not spending) habits all my life, having been taught well by my own parents and grandparents and even great-grandparents.
Nothing matters more to me than peace of mind. No material possession can give me the same thrill I get from not owing money. I was hard-wired this way. I read financial papers obsessively, not totally understanding everything, often going to Sarah with my questions as she majored in accounting and reads ten times the amount that I do, and certainly the deeper, more complex information that she translates for me.
I raised her absolutely dirt poor in rural areas. Schoolteachers in Georgia in the 1970s hardly made squat, but we made do, and I even was paying Montessori tuition for Sarah as a pre-schooler. We shopped at yard sales, grew gardens and everything was second-hand. Our philosophy that we both still follow was embodied in the words: Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without. Who needs it anyway?
There seemed to be no other way to raise one child, much less the 38 more that followed...and still retire early, plus put kids through college, several in private colleges, give them braces, sports activities, and all the other strangling demands, while never browsing through the mall as recreation, nor blowing bucks on crap.
I keep a budget to the nickel, balance my checkbook to a penny, and get a dollar's worth of stuff for a dime. I love the challenge, I truly love it. I thrive on it.
Lynn asked me on Facebook about coupons, yep to that, although not as well as my amazing friend Devin. I read Dave Ramsey for fun, Larry Burkett for years, and all the others that I pick up at yard sales to teach me what I need to know. Larry Burkett predicted this crisis we're now in, sounding like an alarmist 20 years ago, but able to see through the morass of borrowing that there'd eventually be a massive price to pay.
I have no back-up, it's all on me. It behooves me to drum up the courage to remain different.
I may end up each month broke as a mule, likely in the same t-shirt I was wearing on the first, but not owing anyone, not looking at stuff I didn't need in the first place. I sweat it all certainly, but it's doable if I keep learning and growing. Too bad that many of my kids later rebel against frugality and accountability. The successful ones eventually come around.
Folks who want to adopt - learn about money management. The three articles I've linked are a great start.