It’s difficult enough for anyone to make house payments at times, but what about when you’re a single mom? One anonymous single mom brings in $58,000 per year, which is well above the income level of many of her sisters out there.
However, she’s also a mother of three who agreed to sit down with Mike Dang of The Billfold to discuss just how challenging it really is. According to “Mary,” after the bills are paid, she’s often down to the $0 mark.
Everyone’s story is different, but Mary is responsible for a $48,000 education loan that isn’t even hers; it’s her ex-husband’s, but she was a co-signer. For employment, she works at a non-profit for a $40,000 per year salary and also gets $1,500 per month in child support. According to her, she’s barely scraping by and sometimes has to skip paying bills altogether.
Here are five ways one single mom manages to make those house payments.
1. Less health coverage
When Mary spoke to Dang, she was paying for 75 percent of her health insurance coverage, but she was thinking of dropping it entirely. The premiums were just too expensive, and she knew she could get coverage for her kids one way or another.
For herself, however, she just didn’t think it was worthwhile and she was ready to hope for the best. Dropping necessities like health coverage is often the first thing single moms do; it’s part of the putting-others-(like their kids)-in-front-of-themselves mentality.
2. Paying “just enough”
Just because Mary doesn’t always pay her bills doesn’t mean she doesn’t pay some amount. Like other savvy single moms, she’s figured out the bare minimum she needs to pay in order to keep the utilities running. She’s being “forced” to think outside the box, but that’s just a short-term solution. The bill amounts will continue to climb, and she won’t be able to scrape by with this tactic forever.
3. Open to negotiation
She’s also realized that many people and companies are open to negotiation because they’d rather have some revenue than none at all. For example, Mary’s been able to bargain for less rent by agreeing to maintain the property, and she’s negotiated rates with child care providers for those long summer vacations.
She sticks close to her shopping list, thrift shops, and engages in “naked lady parties” with her girlfriends to save money on clothes. In other words, Mary takes every opportunity to enjoy a bargain. Frugality is a foundation for single moms, but it’s actually a great practice for anyone.
4. No future planning
You can stretch a paycheck only so far, no matter how creative and frugal you get. When it comes to retirement, emergency funds, or even play money, Mary doesn’t have any room to save. She says she’ll be “one of those people who works until they drop dead” because her kids are her priority, and she’s putting all she can into their future.
Many single moms can relate, as they put cash into college funds and watch their retirement accounts (assuming they have any) stagnate.
5. Counting blessings
While hope and perspective can help a person’s mood, they don’t make the house payments. Mary knows she has it better than many other single moms, considering she gets child support payments that mean an additional $18,000 per year. The poverty line for women with three children is around $23,000 and more than one quarter of single moms live at or below that limit.
If you need help making your house payments, tap into your frugal side, but also consider working with professionals for the best mortgage rates or refinancing. Maybe lowering your payments is easier than you think.