Posts

a message of hope on mother

Becca’s Story: A Message Of Hope And Love On Mother’s Day For All Single Moms

a message of hope on mother's day

Courtesy of Brooke Kelly Photography

We have all the odds against us, but we are going to beat those odds.

 

“Four years ago, my life fell apart. I was married with a 3-year-old little girl, and we lived in an adorable gated neighborhood in the suburbs, just 4 miles inland from Jacksonville Beach, Florida. I could cross highway A1A at work and eat lunch on the beach. My Jeep always had sand and seashells in it.

I felt so fortunate to have this opportunity in life after working my way through nursing school, and eventually finishing grad school with a newborn. I finally had my dream job as a pediatric nurse practitioner. My career took me to Nashville, Kansas City, and that’s where we ended up on the beach. Sounds like an amazing adventure, right? Well, little did I know, my husband was living a double life and my world was going to come crashing down on me very soon.

I was on my way home from work on a Monday afternoon, just 2 days after my daughter’s luau birthday party, and I found out we had been evicted. All of our belongings were thrown out like trash, even her new birthday presents. I wasn’t allowed back in our home, and I was told the locks had been changed.

I felt sick and like I had no control, like I had been stabbed over and over and I was moving too slow to stop the bleeding. After questioning my husband and our landlord, I discovered that we were 3 months behind on rent and other bills, despite the fact that I was shelling out money to him for our living expenses. He couldn’t answer where the money was going, but all of a sudden, things made sense. His erratic sleep habits, weight loss, running errands all the time. He always had somewhere to go and never wanted us to tag along.

I did some digging and found empty pill bottles and many empty beer cans in his car. The car that drove my child to daycare. The car that always parked in the guest parking spaces in our neighborhood instead of the driveway. I also found several years worth of MY mail in his trunk. He had been keeping random letters from collection agencies, bills, and birthday cards from me for YEARS. Why did he keep all these secrets from me?

Confused, hurt, and angry were my only emotions for the next few days.

I was running on fumes and couldn’t eat or sleep. I felt so stupid for not seeing the signs. I had been so busy with raising a child and building my practice at work. I was married to a drug addict who abandoned us in a Target parking lot 4 miles from the beach.

He had been lying to me for YEARS, and my credit was unfortunately ruined because of it. I had no idea how easy it was to open credit cards and take out personal loans in your spouse’s name. I thought I had stayed on top of my bills but had no idea he was secretly hiding things from me over the course of our 7-year marriage.

I later found out that he had another daughter! He lied about being in the Marine Corps, he lied about his education and his job. I had been living nothing but lies for almost a decade of my life! I thought to myself, ‘How could life be so cruel? How could I be so dumb?’

That first night living in a hotel, I made a Walmart run at 8 p.m. to get clothes and toiletries for us to survive the next few days while I planned my next move. I washed clothes in a hotel sink. My daughter and I tried to make the best of our ‘vacation’ as I called it, while I cried over the things we had lost, wondering how in the world I would sort through this mess. My sweet baby girl lost everything, and we had no support there.

Our closest family was in Tennessee, about 10 hours away, and my soon-to-be-ex-husband left us alone to fend for ourselves without showing any remorse. At night, I would just think of all the things we had lost. I cried silently at night, in the shower or while I was driving. I missed my belongings, and I missed the part of my heart that was stolen. I could never get those things back.

I cried for my daughter because she didn’t deserve this as part of her story. I worked so hard to get where I was, career-wise, and everything was just ripped away. Why couldn’t I just go back and change things sooner? He was a con artist, and I got duped.

I tried to smile through the pain and be strong for my daughter.

I tucked my tail, hung my head, and began my journey home. At 32 years old, I moved back into my old bedroom with a 3-year-old. I was so ashamed of myself. I left the beach and moved back to crummy ole Tennessee. To make things worse, it was SNOWING when we moved back. It was March and snowing in Tennessee. How could this situation get ANY worse?!

My daughter, on the other hand, was thrilled to make snow angels and ride in a makeshift sled with grandma and grandpa. My parents were ecstatic to let us come home. My daughter had her own playroom and slept with mama every night. (Fortunately, my parents keep EVERYTHING. Her playroom was like taking a peek back into my childhood. We’re talking original Cabbage Patch dolls, a Little Tykes kitchen from 1985, y’all. It was glorious!)

Since I had to work diligently on getting my nursing licenses in order, I wasn’t able to apply for any nursing jobs for the next few weeks. My plan was to take an assignment as a travel nurse to save up some money and pay off these old bills that I recently discovered. In the meantime, my daughter and I were going to the gym and the park almost daily.

My heart was bruised, and I needed to slowly put my life back together. I needed to show my daughter that this was our new normal and that living with grandma and grandpa would be a fun adventure. I was trying to convince myself of this too.

A Message Of Hope And Love On Mother’s Day For All Single Moms

I desperately needed to find some friends, but I had no idea where to even start.

I finally texted an old guy friend from high school (actually, I think I went down my Facebook list and sent messages to everyone in town. I was THAT desperate for adult interaction). I jokingly asked if he knew any hot single dads. This wasn’t even relevant in our conversation, just a random thought that popped in my head. To my surprise, he said yes and immediately gave me a name.

Good heavens, was I ready for this? I was SO newly divorced, but hey, I needed friends and I wasn’t going to pass up an opportunity to get out of my parents’ house to meet people. My Facebook detective brain got to work. This single dad had a daughter, who appeared to be the same age as mine. After showing my mom his Facebook picture with his daughter, she screamed, ‘I KNOW THAT LITTLE GIRL!’

Come to find out, his ex-wife’s sister does my mom’s hair, and my mom had seen pictures of this little blonde girl. We live in a big city, so this is a rare occurrence. My mom wanted some juicy gossip, so she pushed me to meet him. (If she thought meeting a stranger was OK, then surely it was fine, right?!) I sent this random guy a Facebook message, and he answered back. I gave him my number and HE. CALLED. ME. So, awkwardly, I answered the phone.

He said he wanted to talk. Like, with his voice. What in the 1990s was going on?! We talked all night just like teenagers. I think it was 2 am when we finally hung up. Maybe it was sleep deprivation, but I felt like one tiny piece of my heart was placed back.

Two days later, we met for lunch. I was a little rusty on appropriate first date clothing, and I was raiding my mom’s closet for most of my attire since I was just starting to rebuild my life and wardrobe. I happened to have a job interview that day, so I wore some comfortable black flats and a pair of my mom’s black dress slacks. Yup, slacks. With pleats down the front. I also wore this shirt I lovingly call ‘the curtain shirt’. This was my 1st first date since I met my ex-husband, 10 years earlier.

He was on his lunch break, so he showed up wearing police gear and a gun on his hip. I was intimidated at first because he is a big dude with a beard and a lot of tattoos, and again, this was my first date in a decade. I am a nurse practitioner and I had never had any type of personal interaction with a police officer in my whole entire life. Now I was on a date with one!

He insisted we take a selfie that day to send to Brian, the guy that introduced us.

We went to the Bayou and sat on the patio. I don’t remember one thing we said during the entire date because I was nervous and trying not to make a mess. I ordered a shrimp po’boy (I couldn’t have ordered something messier, right?) and I don’t even remember if I ate half of it.

I just remember looking at him and getting butterflies. He had the prettiest hazel eyes and I had never dated anyone with a beard, so I’m sure I stared at it. When we were done eating, he walked me to my Jeep and gave me a hug.

Courtesy of Becca Goedecke

After lunch, I was on cloud nine. I had the biggest grin all day, and I was smitten. I could not stop thinking about him! Was I ready for this? I thought, ‘There was no way he could be interested.’ After all, I was just damaged goods. With my awful credit and all the baggage I had, surely this guy would just move on and there was no reason to get my hopes up. I just couldn’t stop thinking about him, but I definitely wasn’t ready to jump into a relationship.

To my surprise, he called me that night. (What is up with this guy? Why can’t he just text?) We had our second date on Friday night, and our first kiss. I knew at that time this was something special. However, I wasn’t quite ready to trust him, and I certainly didn’t want my tender heart to be yanked out of my chest again.

I saw him again on Sunday, which happened to be Easter. We decided to let our girls meet each other that afternoon. My daughter needed some friends too, and they became instant best friends. We looked at them playing, and then looked at each other. Huh, these girls could be twins. I could feel my heart slowly starting to grow back together.

Courtesy of Becca Goedecke

On Mother’s Day, he told me he loved me.

I knew I was falling hard and fast. When you know, you know. But, I wasn’t quite ready to let my guard down. He gave me a key to his house and told me to ‘snoop away’ while he was at work. And…I did just that. I went through every piece of paper in that house, and I couldn’t find anything. He always left his phone unlocked, his email pulled up on his laptop, he was an open book. He did not have a thing to hide.

He showed me his credit score, his bank account, and his up-to-date mortgage payments. He was a genuine, honest, open, loving person. I was damaged goods with a credit score of 300 and a deadbeat ex-husband. But, for some reason, this guy loved me and adored my daughter. I was slowly letting him into my heart and he was helping me rebuild, piece by piece. I certainly didn’t need to be saved by anyone, but he swooped in and saved me.

We discussed moving in together, but I just wasn’t sure. Things were still new to me, and I just had to protect myself and my child. I couldn’t move her again if things weren’t going to work out with us. And plus, staying in Tennessee wasn’t part of our plan. This was supposed to be just a pause in our story. Or so I thought.

He asked me to be his forever wife.

We were sitting on the couch one morning in June before he went to work, and he pulled out the biggest sapphire ring I had ever seen. He asked me to be his forever wife, while my daughter watched E.T. and clapped for us. At that moment, I knew my intent to move out of Tennessee just wasn’t part of the plan right now. Something brought me back home and love was going to keep me there.

My daughter and I moved into his 3-bedroom, 2-bath bachelor pad, which he insisted that we call OUR house. He had almost no furniture and nothing on the walls, so he told me to ‘go nuts’ with it. I had so much fun starting over from scratch. Losing all of my belongings had been so terribly painful, and I got a lump in my throat when I thought about my things just being tossed out like trash.

I shed millions of tears over the things I would never get back. However, it ended up being a blessing in disguise. I had a blank slate so that we could start OUR home. Funny how life works out sometimes.

We talked about getting married just to make things official, and I started researching courthouse weddings. I knew we needed a photographer to capture our special day, so I emailed a husband/wife team to check their availability. Well, they had 1 available date for a wedding. August 15. Wow. This was less than 2 months away and my heart skipped a beat knowing this was actually happening. I called Steven and asked him what he was doing on Saturday, August 15. He said, ‘Marrying you.’ That was all I needed to hear in order to make this happen.

We decided to elope on August 15, 2015, which was about 4 months after our first date.

I could not believe how my life had changed in those few months. I survived a failed marriage to a con-artist, moved back in with my parents as a single mom, and was now planning my wedding.

The plan was to keep our marriage a secret until our Halloween Party, and then surprise everyone by dressing as a bride and groom and showing off our wedding pictures. However, Steven refused to take off his wedding band and we just couldn’t keep it a secret longer than 2 weeks.

We got ready for our special day in a hotel room at the Peabody and walked to Court Square Park where a family friend performed the ceremony. Our little blonde girls were the flower girls and the bridesmaids. My new husband and I danced to our song playing on his phone in his shirt pocket. ‘Fall Into You’ by Brantley Gilbert. Yes, it’s cliché that we live in Tennessee and danced to a country song, but have you heard it?!

Courtesy The Kennys Photography

The girls went home with my new mother-in-law for a slumber party so we could spend our first night as a married couple, kid-free. We had an amazing dinner, laughed over drinks in the Peabody lobby, and I could not wipe the smile off my face. This was not a dream, but my real life. The entire day was perfect.

We eventually bought a bigger house with a pool, and then right after my 35th birthday in 2017, we found out that we would be adding an ‘ours’ to the mix. We had our 3rd daughter, Junebug, and completed our family. We had our little blonde bookends, and this brown-eyed baby girl is the perfect caboose.

Courtesy of Becca Goedecke

Some people will tell you that our marriage is doomed. We both have extremely stressful jobs (his more than mine). We are both divorced and got married 4 months after our first date. We both have ex-spouse drama and are currently involved in a custody battle (I am winning). We have all the odds against us, but we are going to beat those odds.

People are always curious to hear our story, so we just look at each other and smile. Usually, our story goes, ‘We met on a blind date and got married 4 months later.’ In the end, love wins.”

Courtesy of Becca Goedecke

The post Becca’s Story: A Message Of Hope And Love On Mother’s Day For All Single Moms appeared first on Divorced Moms.

Read More –>

mothers day gift guide

Your 2019 Single Moms Mother’s Day Gift Guide

mothers day gift guide

 

Single Mom Mother’s Day Gift Guide 2018

No one is more deserving of a great gift this Mother’s Day than all the hardworking single moms out there. They are especially deserving of being remembered on their special day. So, if you know a single mom you love and care about, make sure she knows she is cared about and respected for the hard work she does daily.

Not sure what to get a single mama in your life? We’ve got you covered. From inspirational posters she can frame to pretty trinkets that show your appreciation, you’re sure to find something on our list for the superhero single mom you know.

1. Badass Single Mom Coffee Mug 

This mug is an homage to all the strong, do it all, badass single moms out there!

Get the badass coffee mug here.

2. A Selfie Stick

Why are Moms never in the picture? Because they’re the ones behind the camera taking the pictures. Give a Mom a selfie stick and the chance to show up in images with her kids.

Get that selfie stick here.

3. A Gift Card For Stitch Fix

Let’s face it: Personal style gets the short shrift when you have a busy single mom’s schedule. Remedy that with a gift card for Stitch Fix. Based on the style profile she creates, she’ll receive five hand-picked clothing items selected by the site’s team of professional stylists. She’ll get to keep what she likes and send back the rest.

Get the Stitch Fix card here.

4. Amazon Gift Card

Nothing says I love you like a gift card from Amazon.  Most single parents rely on Amazon so they can make their lives easier. Really, I don’t know one single mom that doesn’t use Amazon, and if they don’t, you will introduce to them the best invention yet.

Get her Amazon card here.

5. Single Mom Baby Bird Necklace

This necklace represents the single mom and her kids on a family tree branch.

Get the Single Mom necklace here.

6. You Can’t Scare Me Poster

You can’t scare me, I’m a single mom – a funny DIY card or poster in chalkboard-style

Get the poster here.

7. Shutterfly Photo Coasters

These adorable photo coasters are perfect for any mom to use around the house or on the go. Personalize with photos of kids, pets and more for a unique, individualized gift.

Get them here.

8. Maid for a Day

Life is stressful and so is keeping a clean home. A maid for a day could mean a few weeks less stress over a messy house for a single mom.

Get maid service here.

9. Socks, Socks and More Socks!

Like any good pick-me-up, funky socks will make her smile every time she puts them on.

Get her socks here?

The post Your 2019 Single Moms Mother’s Day Gift Guide appeared first on Divorced Moms.

Read More –>

survive financially as a single mom

3 Ways Single Moms Can Survive Financially

survive financially as a single mom

In the end, there are really only two things to focus on if you want to survive financially as a single mom: decreasing expenses and increasing income. The more you do both of those things, the better off you’ll be.

 

Whether you’ve always managed the household checkbook or this is your first time, the financial struggles of being a single mom can feel overwhelming. Stop, breath, and start with these simple steps to getting your finances under control.

3 Tips For Surviving Financially As a Single Mom

1. Stop incurring new debt.  If you’re in the red hole, the first step is to simply stop digging deeper. It’s just not possible to get out of debt if you keep creating more. It might be easier for a while to just stop using credit cards in order to not incur any new debt. Every day that you don’t add to your debt is another day closer to seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. If you find that you can’t get to the end of the month without incurring debt, Step 2 below will help.

2. Budget every dollar. I know, it’s a dirty word to many, but I turned my financial life around when I got serious about budgeting. One of the reasons we find ourselves out of control financially is because we don’t have clarity on what goes in and what goes out. Even if you think you know, you never really do until you track your income and expenses and account for every dollar. Mint is a free app that can help, but I find YNAB to be worth every penny (plus, you get a free month trial to then budget how to pay for the app).

If apps don’t appeal, there’s always pen and paper, an Excel spreadsheet, or even a Word doc to get you started. You can round up to the nearest dollar, but you may be surprised on just where those dollars have been going! It will help you figure out where you really can cut back, and where you can’t. YNAB uses the zero-based budgeting method (this method can be used with or without the program) and the concept is, you can only budget the dollars you have. If you’ve been budgeting by assuming your income and expenses, it will take some adjustment to get used to this new method, but it will be well worth it to get you on a more solid financial footing.

3. Beware the Single Mom Guilt.  I have been there. I have felt so guilty about my marital status that I’ve spent more than I could afford, trying to overcompensate. But after using my tax refund to pay off credit card debt, and then building up debt, and then paying it off, and then doing it again, I finally had enough. And I realized that throwing money at the problem wasn’t really helping.

The more financially stable we became, the less stressed I was. The less stressed I was, the happier my girls were. The happier my girls were, the more we could simply enjoy being together and not have to spend so much money on cable, on outings, on activities they weren’t really enjoying. Instead, my oldest daughter helped out at the dance studio to get a break on tuition.

My youngest daughter shops at Goodwill when she needs new leggings. We come up with solutions together when we hit financial blocks. And if you feel bad for saying, I can’t afford it, try saying, “sorry, that’s not in our budget right now” instead. A small difference, sure, but it takes the focus off the negative part, and reminds both you and your child that you have financial goals.

Of course, personal finance is always personal, and you will have to make some difficult decisions, but try to remember, that’s true for most of us! Divorced or not, kids or not, we all can only work with what we actually have. And you may find that there simply isn’t enough. If things are that tight, you may need to look into increasing your income.

I ended up going back to school once it became clear to me that I was never going to make it on my salary as an Assistant. So I went back to school, got my Paralegal certificate, and got promoted. I took out some student loans and was able to get reimbursed through my employer’s educational assistance program for some of it. Thankfully, my interest rate on my student loan is low, but I am currently throwing any and all “extra” money into paying that off. So far, I’m paid a year ahead.

If going back to school is not an option, consider freelancing. Please do NOT pay for any “work from home” opportunities. But there are things like ride-sharing services, babysitting, and e-commerce sites. I have a friend who has done very well with her Etsy shop!

In the end, there are really only two things to focus on when it comes to managing your money: decreasing expenses and increasing income. The more you do both of those things, the better off you’ll be.

Our family has gone from surviving to thriving, and I can trace it back almost to the day that I was absolutely done with the paycheck-to-paycheck struggle. I am now a month ahead financially, and having that breathing room definitely, helps when we get hit with a new financial problem.

I am out of credit card debt completely, and we even went to New York this spring to see Hamilton, all completely paid for in cash. (I do use credit cards again, but only for the rewards, and I have auto pay set up to pay the balance in full every month so that I don’t pay any interest.)

It’s true that money doesn’t buy happiness. It’s also true that money can’t buy the previous, married, 2-parent household, either.

It’s also our job to teach our children about personal finance. As with everything else, they will learn these lessons by our actions, and not our words. If you want your children to have a healthy relationship with money, it’s time to have your own healthy relationship with it, too.

You’ve totally got this!

The post 3 Ways Single Moms Can Survive Financially appeared first on Divorced Moms.

Read More –>

solo traveling

How Moms Can Use Solo Travel For Self-Care After Divorce

solo traveling

 

Every hard working mom deserves to replenish her batteries at least once a year. Admittedly, I felt a pang of guilt for leaving my kids behind with their grandparents while I embarked on a chase for adventure, but it turned out it was exactly what the doctor ordered!

As I was to find out, the phenomenon of solo-traveling is in full swing right now, dedicated parents from every corner of the globe are in on it, so why wouldn’t you be as well? This decompressing solo journey is one of the cornerstones of self-care, and a treat that every mom deserves to relish in.

Solo Travel After Divorce Allows You To…

Invest in yourself

‘I’ is the most important constituent of self-care solo travel. It is all about investing in yourself and finding the most efficient activities to replenish your energy wells. Read a nice vacation book, stay in a hotel with a pool or accommodation near a natural body of water. Remember – water is a known neutralizer of negative energy!

All in all, traveling solo allows you a welcoming opportunity to reconnect with yourself. My own first solo traveling experience as a fully-realized mother was a road trip (more on that later), but virtually any backdrop can work. If you are thirsty for experiences that are completely exotic in your book, charter a flight to Morocco, Thailand or Bali but keep in mind that your comfort is of absolute priority.

Give yourself some breathing room

If you find the idea of traveling half-way around the world intimidating, especially if it means daunting separation from your kids, then taking a road trip may just be akin to dipping your toe in a lake before jumping in. The upside of this is that it is a flexible journey with a loose schedule. This is a convenient feature of a road trip because it means that you can fully concentrate on the self-care aspect.

But first, make sure that safety precautions are all checked off. I generally take my car for routine maintenance before the trip. It would also be prudent to include a well-equipped survival kit in your car in the case you get stuck in the middle of nowhere. Apart from a basic set of tools, my survival kit also includes extra water bottles, some power bars, and sanitizers. Knowing that you have taken all the necessary precautions, the road trip itself will be so much more carefree.

Make it transformative

One of the most exciting prospects of traveling solo is that you can start your trip off as one person and get out of it as a changed individual. Yes, such experiences, no matter how short, can be immensely powerful. This is what a trip to Guangzhou represented for me. Not to dwell too long on the experience, this sprawling metropolis was a neon-glazed sucker punch of a culture shock that realigned my perspective of the world – and this is what your experience should be!

Choose a destination that puts you in a completely new environment. Your mission, if there is a thing within this context that can be deemed as such, is to create a pilgrimage for yourself that will expand your mind and soul. Urban environments saturated in multicultural influences can have such a profound influence on you, but you can look towards the trips that put you on the path of cultural and traditional landmarks of other countries. Solo-travel for self-care is a wide and empty canvas, so you can go wild and choose the colors that befit your sensibilities the most!

It is perfectly natural to feel a looming sense of responsibility for your children. My own kids are constantly on my mind, no matter the circumstances, but this feeling can also make you feel trapped in a way that is highly unproductive. A week or so of separation can be an adventure for everyone and you have to break the ice eventually. Trust me, the hardest part is taking the first step, but you need to invest in all the aspects of self-care in order to find inner balance and be of use to yourself and your children as well.

The post How Moms Can Use Solo Travel For Self-Care After Divorce appeared first on Divorced Moms.

Read More –>

529

A Divorced Mom’s Guide To Saving For Their Kid’s College

529

 

Are a you a single mom who puts the education of your children above your own retirement?

If so, you’re not alone. In a study referenced by Forbes, it was found that half of all single moms put their child’s education as their long-term financial priority, even above saving for their own retirement.

So, a lot of questions arise from the findings of single moms and their financial priorities. Why are divorced moms putting their kids’ college savings first when they are arguably a child’s priority?

Are there options for single moms that allow them to save for retirement and secure their children’s educational future?

What do most financial advisors recommend?

A Divorced Mom’s Guide To Saving For Their Kid’s College

Let’s dive in.

Divorced Moms Who Pay for Their Child’s Education Often Do So Out of Guilt

The above referenced study found that single parents are more likely to feel an obligation to help their adult children financially than traditional parents.

Often, single mom’s feel guilty about the divorce, not being able to spend as much time with their kids as they’d like (due to balancing careers), and because they want to give their child one less thing to think about in their future as they feel they have scarred them through the divorce.

So, what are the options for single moms to explore for a solid retirement and college savings balance?

Balancing Retirement and Your Kid’s College Fund

Most financial advisors would recommend that your retirement planning should come before that of your child. A couple of key reasons for this include the fact that retirement does not benefit from any federal loans whereas there are several ways to finance college. Further, tax breaks for investments are more generous than those for college savings, but there are ways to impactfully save for both.

What are the Best Options for College Savings?

Many single moms begin to consider their IRAs when thinking of ways to strategically pay for the education of their children. Turns out there is a much better way to save for both, and the college route generally involves what is called a 529 plan.

529 plans are qualified tuition plans and are tax-advantaged savings plans specifically designed for education-based saving. You have the option of two plans, depending on your ideal situation.

The first is prepaid tuition plans. These allow account holders to buy credits at participating educational institutions for the child’s future tuition.

The second college savings plan allows account holders to open an investment account that operates more like a traditional interest-bearing account, except directly aimed at educational savings.

Some of the benefits of a 529 plan include:

  • No dollar limit on contributions
  • You can use 529 plans to pay for elementary, middle, high school, or college
  • The ability to withdrawal the amount of any earned scholarships penalty-free
  • Protection from creditors in the event of a civil lawsuit, bankruptcy, etc.

Are there any negatives of a 529 for college savings?

There are some negatives to 529 plans. For starters, you can’t take income tax deductions for contributions, meaning you must pay federal taxes on the funds before adding them to the account. Another negative that is similar to many federal retirement plans is that you will be penalized if you withdrawal from the 529 account and don’t use the money for qualified education-based expenses.

What if My Child is Already College Age and I Don’t Have Savings?

While most financial planners would never recommend planning to use an IRA for college, there are some scenarios where it may be the only option. For example, if the divorced parent has not had time to contribute to a 529 plan, their sole option for helping their child may be to use their IRA.

The good news is that there are exceptions for IRA deductions specifically used for education expenses where no penalties will be incurred. This means you may be able to withdraw IRA earnings penalty-free, but not tax-free when you use the money for college.

This option, while not recommended, is ideal for single moms who have not planned on funding their retirement and saving for college.

In the perfect situation, a divorced mom will have multiple accounts set up to contribute to both their own retirement as well as the education of their children.

The post A Divorced Mom’s Guide To Saving For Their Kid’s College appeared first on Divorced Moms.

Read More –>

become financially smarter

4 Ways Divorced Moms Can Become Financially Smarter

become financially smarter

 

During my work with women who were going through or recovery from divorce one of the most frustrating aspects of the work was their attitude towards money. I’ll go out on a limb and say that one of the main stressors for women after divorce is money.

Yet, when asked what their plans were for relieving their stress over money, the majority didn’t make that a priority in life.

I worked with clients who had been long-term stay-home-moms, their only financial plan for the future was to live on child support and alimony. They were doing without; their children were doing without and the main concern for these women was not having to make a change in their role as a stay-at-home mom.

They feared working or building a career for themselves would be too disruptive for their children without acknowledging how being stressed for money was damaging their children. The only role money took in their lives was the lack of money.

When asked what their plans were for when their children reached the age of majority and child support stopped or, alimony was no longer coming in, I got shoulder shrugs in return or, “I’ll figure it out.”

Sorry, but the time to figure it out isn’t then when you have even less money than you have now.

A recent Prudential study on the “Financial Experience & Behaviors Among Women” shows, unfortunately, that women have not come a long way when it comes to money. Women feel no more prepared to make smarter financial decisions today than they did three years ago — or even a decade ago.

And, based on my experience with divorcing clients they’re not prepared to make smart financial decisions when smacked in the face with divorce and the possibility of living in poverty.

Divorce doesn’t mean remaining financially dependent on a man you are no longer married to. Divorce not only legally ends your relationship with your husband, but it also sets a woman free to make her own way in the world and, to do that she must be able to make her own money and smarter financial plans for herself now and down the road.

If you’re divorced and reluctant to go back to work or, fear what the future holds for you financially here are 4 tips to help you become financially smarter.

Get educated: Learning about money is important, and the more of a role you take, the more enjoyable it becomes. You may consider taking a few classes in finances at a local college, university or online.

This might be a little extreme but, I can guarantee that you will be better off if you start to get a handle on your finances. There are hundreds of books, podcast, blogs, and videos that can help you gain a better understanding of your personal finances. We can’t “stay dumb” about money. It limits our options in the world, not to mention feelings of self-worth and competency.

Track and budget: In order to make smart decisions about your money, you have to understand where your money is going. Start by tracking your expenses for one to two months. Once you see where your money is going, you can start to weed out the unnecessary expenses. Use this information to create a budget that reflects your needs instead of your wants.

To help make tracking and budgeting easier, you can download smartphone or tablet apps such as Mint, GoodBudget, and Expensify. Creating and keeping your budget is one of the simplest ways to not only learn about your finances and spending habits but to be more informed and involved so that you can make smart decisions about money.

Start saving now: Retirement might seem like an eternity away, especially for women in their 20s, 30s and even 40s, but saving for it is incredibly important for financial security. The earlier you start saving for retirement, the better your financial picture will look in the future.

If you work and your company offers a 401(k) plan or 403(b), make sure you contribute as much as you can. This is especially important if they offer to match your contribution. Remember, this is essentially free money going into your retirement account. If your company doesn’t offer a 401(k) or 403(b), consider opening a traditional or Roth IRA. The sooner you start saving, the longer you are allowing your money to grow.

Get a job: Unless you’re wealthy or a movie star, your economic level will decrease as a result of divorce. The same income that used to run one household is now running two. You’re going to need to supplement the income from child support and alimony with earnings of your own.

If you worked in the past, re-enter your career field. If you don’t have a work history but skills that make you marketable, make a list of those skills, build a killer resume and start networking. If you have no marketable skills, it’s time to get a degree or take courses that will help you become more marketable in today’s job force.

Women can be very smart with money. All we need to do is start getting in the game and stop believing that financial issues are too complicated for us to understand.

The post 4 Ways Divorced Moms Can Become Financially Smarter appeared first on Divorced Moms.

Read More –>

have a splendid valentine

How Divorced, Single Moms Can Have A Splendid Valentine’s Day

have a splendid valentine's day

 

During my marriage, Valentine’s Day was a big deal in our home. I made mini heart-shaped cakes that my husband and I would share with our children after he and I had been out to a special Valentine’s Day dinner.

We didn’t focus so much on romance but on showing each other love. The children received a new plush toy on that day, I got a special dinner with my husband and, at the end of the day, we all had a sweet treat and time together as a family.

We carried on the tradition after the divorce only I didn’t get the special dinner and although I felt like my heart had been ripped out, I still had to make those mini heart-shaped cakes and buy plush toys.

What I really want to do was go to bed and pull the covers over my head. There is no better reminder of how unlovable you are after a husband leaves than Valentine’s Day. And the last thing I wanted was a reminder of how much life had changed since our last Valentine’s Day together.

I also knew that, I didn’t want my next Valentine’s Day to be a reminder of the past or my station in life so, the following year, I changed things up and made a promise to myself that I’d not wallow in pity but make the day the most splendid it could be regardless of my marital status. Here’ how I did that.

How Divorced, Single Moms Can Have A Splendid Valentine’s Day

Be kind. Pay attention to your inner dialogue and the things you say to yourself. When that inner voice is saying something negative, stop and ask yourself if you would “talk” to your girlfriend that way. If the answer is no, then don’t say it to yourself. Instead of thinking, I’ll always be alone or no one will ever love me or Will I ever find love again? Try reminding yourself that you are loved and reassure yourself that the right person will come along at the right time.

Treat yourself. Do something nice for yourself, anything. Pamper yourself with a pedicure or massage. Take a bubble bath. Visit your favorite coffee shop armed with a good book as company. Go for a long walk. Treat yourself to dinner and a movie. Buy yourself a fancy cupcake or a piece of chocolate. You deserve to enjoy good things. You deserve to spend time participating in activities that are life-giving and create peace in your life. Stop waiting for someone to do it for you—do it for yourself.

Create a new tradition with your kids. Valentine’s Day does not have to be all about romance. Take this opportunity to celebrate with your children. Make pizza at home. Decorate cupcakes or watch a family movie. Clinical psychologist and divorce coach Deanna Conklin-Danao suggests that focusing on your kids is an excellent way to combat the loneliness that can creep in around this time of year.

Phone a friend. Surrounding yourself with positive people is a key way to practice “emotional hygiene.” Enlist the support of a good friend and plan an evening or afternoon out. There is nothing like some good girlfriend time to remind you of how wonderful you are.

Work out! Exercise is a proven mood lifter and is essential to maintaining one’s physical health. It is an excellent way to demonstrate self-care. You don’t have to join a gym or go to a class—start with a walk outside. Go for a run. Climb the stairs in your house. Rent an exercise DVD. It doesn’t matter what you do—just move your body and you will feel better.

Make someone else’s day. Another great way to elevate your own mood and to feel encouraged about your situation is to do something for someone else. Make and send Valentine’s Day cards for our servicemen and women who are away from their families. Plan and host a Valentine’s Day party at a women and children’s shelter. Volunteer at an animal shelter. Serve meals to the homeless. Bake cookies, and take them to your local firehouse or police station. Send thank-you letters to your children’s teachers.

Holidays can be difficult for divorced single moms, and Valentine’s Day is no exception. Creating new traditions on these special days is an excellent strategy for combating the blues and building a wonderful new life for you and your children. This Valentine’s Day is the perfect occasion to start the tradition of celebrating your love for yourself. Filling up your “love tank” will give you plenty of love to pour out on those around you.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

The post How Divorced, Single Moms Can Have A Splendid Valentine’s Day appeared first on Divorced Moms.

Read More –>