minimum wage

Minimum Wage Mommy

STOP!!! WATCH THE VIDEO BEFORE READING!!!!

Recently I came across this video and it was very heart breaking. I do not sympathize because she is making $7.50 an hour working at McDonalds, however, I do sympathize because she hasn’t realized it is up her to make things better. By no means am I writing this to bash this woman. She gave us a brief synopsis of what it is like for her being a single mother making $7.50 an hour. Many of the comments associated with this video were very nasty and just plain disrespectful.

Some people may or may not like what I have to say, but I am going to say it anyway. Before I do, let me give you a little run down on what my life was like growing up. I am the product of TEENAGE PARENTS! I am a FATHERLESS CHILD! I spent the early part of my childhood in POVERTY! So with that being said, I have every right to say what I am going to say because I know what it is like to be that child and I am a mother. The bottom line is this, no one owes you anything. You made the choice to work at McDonalds knowing the pay. Yes it is rough, but you have to take action to put yourself ahead. You will continue to have less if you accept less.

I have the best mother in the entire world or at least I would like to think so. She made a lot of sacrifices to make sure my brother and I had a better life than the one she started out with. It’s not about where you start; it’s about where you finish. I did not understand her sacrifices back then, but as an adult with a child of my own, I completely understand them now. By the time my mother graduated high school, she had two children and no intentions to further her education. Luckily she had people in her corner to encourage her to attend college. As a result, my mother went away to college to make a better life for us. We stayed under the care of my great grandmother until she became too sick to care for us, which than my grandmother took over. It really wasn’t that big of a difference location wise because she lived right next door to my great grandmother. It was like we lived in one big house, but living with my grandmother really taught me how to take care of myself LOL.

My mother worked while in college and came home almost every other weekend. I remember waking up on Saturday mornings and she would be sleep on the couch. She always made sure we had everything we needed before she would head back to school and I would always cry because I wanted her to stay. This was the spot where all of the cousins came while the parents were off doing whatever it was that they did. Now looking back I realize everyone around me was considered poor or low income, but back then I didn’t really know what poor was because that is how everyone I knew lived. I knew what food stamps were, mostly everyone rode the bus because they didn’t have a car and there were a whole lot of daddies not being around. I barely knew anyone that lived with both parents and my childhood is the main reason why I do not eat microwavable food. Yea my brother and I learned very early how to use the microwave since my grandmother didn’t like to cook. She is also the reason why I don’t really like pizza.

I never experienced anything tragic growing up, but I know what gun shots sound like and how to be observant of my surroundings. I know how to read people and not be so trusting, which is probably what saved me from being kidnapped as I walked home from school by myself that one day. So yes I am so thankful that my mother made the necessary sacrifices while I was young to give me a better chance as I got older. I couldn’t ask for a better mother. Although it took her a little longer to graduate, I can proudly say I was able to watch my mother walk across the stage to get her college degree. It took her 10 years to get us out of the hood, but where there is a will there is a way. She has a great paying job, made sure we had an awesome education, and we had more than enough of what we wanted.

So with that being said, once again I am not here to bash this woman in this CNN Money video. I am here to tell anyone reading this post that your current situation is the result of your past choices. If you don’t like your present circumstances than change it, but only you can do that. At a certain point you have to stop playing the woe is me card and decide to make a change. We live in a dog eat dog world and no one is going to fix your life for you. If you are at rock bottom the only place you can go are left, right, or up. Digging left or right will keep you at the same level so make the choice to rise up.

When I became pregnant with my son, I was in a sales job not really making much money and drowning in student loan debt. My boyfriend and I decided to move back up north with each of us moving with our parents to try and save money. We both had to find jobs and I took a job at a marketing company making $10.00 an hour because I had a mouth I needed to start feeding soon. I quickly picked up a second job and worked until I was forced to go on bed rest. Working 2 jobs allowed me to pay off the majority of my credit card debt, pay off smaller debts that I had and put about $1,000 into my baby fund. Unfortunately, I had to use my baby fund money to pick up the responsibilities of someone else or face something else negative going on my credit. I shall not mention any names. I absolutely hated my $10.00 an hour job, but didn’t want to start looking for something else until I got the whole baby thing under control. It was a very small company and everyone was so miserable. It was either you were young and needed a job or you were older and didn’t think you could go anywhere else. Sometimes I would cry before I went to work and it took me about a year once I started my search to find something.

During this new life change, I found myself covering a lot of the cost of raising my son. I made excuses for the name I shall not mention which again left me crying trying to figure out how to pay for daycare that week because he was being financially irresponsible. I will never go back down that road again of letting someone else’s actions put me in a situation that causes me to struggle. I should have known than, but I was being stupid and trying to make our little family work.

So yes I have been on both sides of the spectrum, a child of a struggling mother and a struggling mother myself. I know the reason for my struggle and I am choosing not to struggle anymore. Right now I am at a peaceful place in my life because of the changes I decided to make. I am constantly doing things in my present to setup my future. There are no excuses!!! The knowledge to better yourself is out there. Where there is a will there is a way, but you have to decide if you have the will to find your way. You owe it not only to yourself, but to your child(ren) to stop making excuses. I encourage anyone reading this post and want some advice to reach out to me for help. I want to inspire as many women as possible to get on the right track financially. Stay tuned as I will be providing more posts on what I have learned throughout my financial journey. Subscribe so you don’t miss a post.

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ebates

Ebates- Get Paid to Shop Online!

It is the holiday season and if you are anything like me, you prefer to do your shopping online. Amazon became my best friend about four years ago because I didn’t feel like taking a baby out and dealing with the crowds. Now my online shopping experience is even better with Ebates. With Ebates, I can do my normal shopping, save money and earn cash back. Who doesn’t want that? And guess what…Ebates is absolutely free to sign up for. All you have to do is visit your normal sites via Ebates.com to start earning cash back.

Here are some of the stores with double cash back rewards for the holiday shopping season; don’t let these deals slip by you. Earn while you are already shopping for things you were already going to buy online.

Ebates- Double Cash Back

And of course Ebates has the refer a friend cash bonus to put more money in your pocket.

Ebates- Refer a friendClick the hyperlink or the Ebates button on the sidebar to get started today for free: Ebates-Get Paid to Shop

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Mommy Fix Your Credit

Mommy Fix Your Credit

Being pregnant with my little one opened my eyes to a lot of things. At 24 I was young, but not that young, and still figuring things out for myself. I had credit card debt from college, mounds of student loans and my credit score was embarrassing. At the time I’m pretty sure it was like 505 which is horrible. I knew it was going to be a long journey so I needed to start immediately getting my shit together, not just for me, but more importantly for him. His little voice was screaming, “Mommy fix your credit.”

Credit Score Ratings

Cash is king, but if you don’t have cash than you better have a good credit score. A poor credit score can make buying a house and other “adult purchases” so much harder. It has been a long journey, mainly because I needed to clear up a student loan that was in collections, but my dedication and stubbornness has finally paid off. My credit score has made a drastic improvement and continues to rise. At my recent mortgage appointment, my credit score was 697 which is considered good. I was shocked because for the longest time I was stuck at the 620-630 range. Settling that Sallie Mae loan really helped boost my credit score. Here are 5 tips to help you fix your credit:

1) Education is Key- Before you can fix your credit it’s important to know how it is calculated. See the chart below

What-Is-A-Credit-Score

2) Getting to the root of the evil- Pull your credit reports so you know what is on them. Everyone is entitled to one free report every 12 months by each credit bureau. Use these as your guideline to fix your credit. Sometimes there are false items on your report and you will want to work with the credit bureau to get these things removed. Go to www.annualcreditreport.com to pull your reports for free.

3) Stop ignoring your debt- Debt makes up 30% of your credit score. You cannot ignore this if you want to fix your credit. Gather all of your debt and devise a plan to eliminate it.

4) On time payments- Make a pledge to pay your bills on time. Scheduling online payments will help with this so you won’t forget. Create a budget to stay organized with your money if you need to.

5) Low Credit Card Balances- If you have been following me, you may recall my “Life Without Credit Cards” post so it is do able. If you have them, I highly suggest you not use your credit cards until you get the debt under control. Keeping your credit card balances 30% or less is best if you have to have them in your life. A lesson that I learned is to keep the accounts open and just avoid using the cards. The length of your credit history is about 15% of your credit score so the longer you have the account the better it looks.

So there you have it. Mommy fix your credit so you can stop making things hard for yourself. By no means will this be easy so you are going to have to be disciplined and remember why you are doing this. Feel free to reach out to me if you have questions.

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planner 2

Planning is Key to Survival

As a single mother, I have to plan just about every aspect of my life; from weekly meals to designating time for me to do non-related mom activities. Dating and hanging out with friends require a babysitter. Planning is my key to survival. If you are not a  planner, it’s time to stop making excuses and get it together. Here are four techniques that will help make your life a whole lot easier.

  1. Time Blocking- Designate a certain amount of time to complete as many tasks on your list as possible. This only works if you can stay focused without distractions. Turn off your TV and ignore your cell phone. Make it a priority to get things done.
  2. Be an Early Bird or Night Owl- During the week I am most certainly a Night Owl. Once my son is in bed, I try to force myself not to also pass out. The key is to keep moving!!!! A body in motion stays in motion. On the weekends my alarm goes off at 6:00am no matter what. Now I may not always get up at that time, but I have learned I must get up before the little one does to get started on my to do list. Once he is up, my attention is automatically diverted to him.
  3. Calendars and Lists- This should already be a no brainer for everyone. I have way too much going on to even try to remember everything so I must write it down.
  4. Getting things done ahead of time. If there are things you have to get accomplished that are deadline driven, try to get them done early. Getting things done early will relieve your stress of constantly thinking about it. This also gives you extra time to resolve any issues and come up with a plan B.

So there you have it. This is how this single mommy, full time employee, blogger, business owner and so many other things makes it work. I’m not a robot, I figured out planning is key.

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doc-mcstuffins

Doc McStuffins: For Girls and Boy

Yesterday was my little man’s first day of school!!! With me working and commuting such a distance, I don’t normally get the joy of drop off/pickup duty so I took off of work of course.  During pickup time, all the children were allowed to pick out a coloring book to be used during lunch time….if they finish their food early of course.  There were mostly girl options, a few gender neutral and of course sports for I guess to be geared towards the boys.  By the time it was the little man’s turn, there were not many options left so he picked out the Doc McStuffins.  My first reaction was to say that is for girls, but I caught myself as I looked at the sports coloring book at the end of the table.  Instead I asked, “Are you sure you want Doc McStuffins?” and he replied, “Yes”.  I just nodded and started asking him questions about his day as his teacher labeled his coloring book with his name.

Now I am a very open minded person.  I am pro gender equality; support whether you consider yourself to be straight, gay, lesbian, bi or transgendered.  My first reaction to his selection was out of my natural instinct to protect him.  I don’t want anyone to make fun of him because he selected a “girly” coloring book.  But more importantly I want him to be ok with his choices and be himself so I caught myself before I spoke.  During our car ride home, I decided to ask him why he selected the Doc McStuffins coloring book and our conversation went a little something like this:

Me: So why did you pick out the Doc McStuffins coloring book?

Little Man: Because I like her.

Me: Why do you like her?

Little Man: Because she fixes all of the toys… boy toys and girl toys.

Me: That is really cool…I like her too.  Did you see the football coloring book?

Little Man: No

Me: Oh Ok

And that was the end of that conversation.  So what if my son likes Doc McStuffins!!!! He also likes watching Care Bears and Bratz because his older sister watches those shows.  When he is in control of the remote, he watches Power Rangers, Spiderman, Ninja Turtles and any other popular “boy” cartoon that comes on.  He plays in the dirt and throws rocks even when I tell him not to.  He loves soccer and basketball.  So no I am not worried about my son’s sexual orientation just because of the type of coloring book he selected.  What will be will be and as his mother I will love and support him no matter what.

 

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After School Questions

Dilemma: After School Questions

It’s back to school time and for many parents we struggle with trying to get our children to tell us about their day. The dreaded after school questions with one word responses helps neither party.  I have a 5 year old so it’s certainly not a walk in the park to get him to remember his day let alone give me details.  This upcoming week starts kindergarten for my little one, but last year he was in full day K-4 (8:30am-3:00pm) so it won’t be too much of an adjustment.  The biggest difference will be no naps, but I’m sure he will be totally ok with that.  Naptime has been non-existent the past 2 years unless he falls asleep in the car.

Last year we transitioned out of the “How was your day?” and moved onto “What did you learn today?”  This was much more conversational and encouraged him to think. You can actually get a lot out of a four year old if you ask the right questions.

Asking “What did you learn today?”  is opened ended and depending on the answer can lead to other open ended questions.  Letting him tell me what he learned is a great way for me to drive home certain topics with him.  Education shouldn’t only be limited to the classroom.  If your child doesn’t know something, it’s because you weren’t paying enough attention as the parent.

So challenge your child to give you a recap. It will give you more insight on what he or she does or doesn’t like about school.  When he gets a little older, I will start asking “What questions did you ask today?”.  If he isn’t asking questions than I know he isn’t being challenged.

A few other questions to ask your kindergartener are:

1)      What was your favorite part of the day?

2)      Was there anything that you didn’t like today?  Follow up by asking why to identify any problems.

3)      Did you lose any bees today?  Or whatever behavior chart the classroom uses.

4)      What games did you play at recess?

5)      What did you eat for lunch? Schools normally provide a weekly/monthly menu if lunch is provided, but it is still fun to ask.

So what questions are you asking your kids after school?

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Should Single Mothers Be Recognized on Father’s Day?

For the past two weeks I have noticed the big debate on social media regarding Father’s Day. Should single mothers be recognized on Father’s Day as well? Unfortunately most single mothers are filling the void of their child(ren) having a dead beat as a dad. Leave it to big business to capitalize on this trending topic.  I mean you can even find cards recognizing mothers on Father’s Day.

Cards for mom on father's day

As a single mother I personally do not want to be recognized on Father’s Day. No one will ever be able to take my place in my son’s life and the same goes for that of a FATHER. Let the FATHERS have their day because I am a MOTHER and there is no comparison. There are plenty of amazing FATHERS doing what they should so why should their day be diminished. No one bashes dead beat moms on Mother’s Day so why should Father’s Day be any different.

real fathers, real men

There are going to be people that don’t like this post but I am ok with that. Just because someone takes part in creating a child does not make them a MOTHER nor does it make them a FATHER. Plenty of people step up to the plate of being a parent, whether it is through adoption, marriage or some other facet.

I am not a FATHER so no matter how hard I try, I will never be able to teach my son how to be a man, but I sure can teach him how to be a gentleman and treat women with respect. He is almost five and he knows ladies should go first, he tries to hold the door open for me LOL, and God forbid a man the slightest bit creepy comes near me and he is already giving the evil eye. My brothers and future husband can teach him what I can’t.

So yes I am ok with being a REAL MOTHER so let REAL FATHERS also be recognized.

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Via Yahoo Images

2015: The Year of Me

Going into 2015 I feel absolutely happy, accomplished, beautiful and worthy of all the things I want out of life.  So yes, I am going to be selfish and declare 2015 as the year of ME.  I will stop neglecting myself.  I will stop making excuses as to why I can’t do something.  I will start living my life.  I will continue to work hard because I am finally starting to see goals I set years ago become reality.

As mothers we get so caught up in taking care of others we often forget to take care of ourselves.  You cannot take care of others if you do not first take care of yourself.  You cannot give what you do not have.  It’s like being on an airplane and they tell you in case of an emergency you must put your face mask on first before trying to help others.  You can’t help your child breathe if you can’t breathe yourself.

I am Just His Mommy so every goal I set, even if it seems selfish, has a greater purpose.  So let’s recap the goals I set in 2014 and how far I got:

  1. Build my emergency fund back up to $3,000- This was achieved successfully with some ups and downs of course.  Not bad for starting off with $700.
  2. Buy a car in straight cash without taking out a loan- I did get a new car but not in straight cash.  The Iron Pimp kept taking all of my money so I had no other choice but to break down and get a new one.  I was able to have a $2,000 down payment since I was already saving.
  3. Start teaching the little one the value of money- We cashed in all of the change I had been collecting since his birth and opened up a kids account at a local credit union.  They gave him a red piggy bank for him to start saving and this is where he “saves” his money for when we take our trip to Lego Land.  He normally comes with me when I do events for Happily Naturally Me and I pay him a dollar.  I always give him the option to spend or save his dollar; only once so far has he decided to spend it.
  4. Last but not least  my big financial goal of 2014 was to save $10,000 for a down payment on a home- Long story short, I still have a long way to go.

With that being said, here is what I plan on accomplishing in 2015:

  1. Buy that three bedroom house with the backyard- This will be my starter home with space for a home office. In 2014 I launched my own startup called Happily Naturally Me. It is a natural skincare line that specializes in all natural handmade products.
  2. Pay off one of my student loans- I call it my journey to divorcing Sallie Mae.
  3. Go on vacation- The little one and I have been talking about going to Lego Land in Orlando, FL so I intend on making that happen.  I just found out that the Lego Land hotel doesn’t open till mid-year so hopefully in the fall. Stay tuned for my review.
  4. Have an awesome birthday- I may not look it, but I will be the big 30 in 2015 so I plan on celebrating.
  5. Continue working on past goals I have yet to accomplish.

What are your goals for 2015?

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Financially Compatible

Are you Financially Compatible with your Spouse?

Financially Compatible

Financially Compatible

Are you married, engaged or just seriously dating someone at the moment?  No matter what level you are at with your better half, the bigger question is whether or not you are financially compatible with your spouse.  If you aren’t compatible with your spouse this can be a very big problem and ignoring it won’t make matters any better, trust I know from experience.  The number one reason why most marriages fail is you guessed it the “Evil Green”, the thing that makes the world go round…yea that’s right MONEY.

The dreaded money conversation can cause a lot of tension in a relationship if you and your spouse are not on the same path financially or totally have different spending habits.  Like I said, trust me because I know from experience and this topic has caused friction in the relationship with my little one’s father and I.  I thought we had the same financial goals, but our habits were totally different.  I planned everything to the best of my ability and he hardly planned at all.   We even tried to have a shared account for household bills, but that didn’t work out either. Having a monthly budget meeting turned into me doing my budget each month on my own; I got tired of trying to force it.  I always knew he was bad with money, but I thought it would be something he would grow out of; you can’t force someone to do something they either don’t want to do or are not ready to do.  All of this resulted in me constantly fixing the situation, which is what he become accustomed to.  I stopped complaining and just did what I normally do…. Make it Work even if that meant going into my savings.  Yea not fair at all.

So yes the tension in our relationship over money affected other aspects of our relationship.  I wouldn’t be honest about the money I had and he wouldn’t tell me about his careless spending so there went the trust and communication.  I was always angry because I felt like I was doing more; not because he couldn’t, but because he was careless and our priorities were different.

How could I marry someone I didn’t even trust with my money?  The answer is I can’t and I won’t.  As a right of all of this, we are no longer together and maybe he will change his ways and I can learn to trust him again, but right now I really am Just His Mommy.

This is what I have learned about relationships and money from my 5 year relationship.  And yes this is the longest relationship ever for me:

1)      If you can’t discuss money it’s most likely not going to work.

2)      Your financial goals have to be in line with one another if you want longevity.

3)      One should not be doing more than the other unless it is agreed upon and no it is not ok.

4)      Love is not enough to make a relationship work.

5)      Money is most definitely the root of all evil and can make you go crazy.

What I hope he has learned from this situation:

1)      You can’t “rob Peter to pay Paul.”  It will only come back to bite you in the butt.

2)      Constantly not doing your part and allowing your spouse to pick up the pieces will result in a loss of faith in you.

3)      Your financial decisions do not only affect you when there are others you are responsible for.

4)      Gambling is a luxury and should be treated as such.

5)      It’s not about how much money you have, but how you manage it.

So if you are serious about your relationship with someone or are already married you better fix this aspect of your relationship sooner rather than later.  If you can’t work it out, you will regret it later on down the road.  From what I have been told divorce is not fun and I hope to never have to go through one especially over money. So once again are you financially compatible with your spouse?

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Fear of Change

The Fear of Change

“It’s the most unhappy people who most fear change.”Mignon McLaughlin

I have been gone for a minute; mainly because of all the changes going on in my life.  I had to readjust everything and now I am finally getting back into the groove of things. For a long time I had been complacent and not REALLY enjoying life; time and time again we are constantly reminded that we are not promised tomorrow or even another second so you better be overall happy with the life you are living.  It took me a long time to realize I was just going through the motions of this thing called life and this was not the vision I had for myself by any means.   I kept lying to myself that I was still this upbeat motivated full of life person that I once was, but really I wasn’t.  Those that were close to me could see it, but I just couldn’t accept the fact that I was losing the things that made me who I was and I take full responsibility for that.

Towards the end of 2013 I had a major wakeup call.  All of the little fires finally turned into a raging inferno that I let get out of control.  The bottom line, I accepted the things that I could not change, but the problem was I just brushed aside the things I was capable of changing instead of dealing with them.  I was afraid and I let the fear of change, challenge, and the unknown stop me from truly being happy.  If you read back to my Are You Making Yourself Unhappy? post, this was me lying to myself and I realize that now.  Don’t get me wrong, the things that I wrote about were true in a sense and I am very thankful for those things in my life, but I still owe it to myself to strive for more and not settle.

So in an effort of my pursuit for happiness these are the changes that I am making or have already made:

  1. I stopped relying on the actions of others to make me happy:  I am the captain of my own destiny and so are you.  Like most relationship, my son’s father and I started off great and I thought we were partners, but it turned out we really weren’t.  His goals were my goals and the problem was just that… They were MY GOALS.  I relied on him to help me get there because I thought we were a team, but in reality we were on two different paths holding each other back.    Maybe one day we will be on the same path, but right now we are going our separate ways.
  2.  I stopped focusing on the things I didn’t have and started focusing on how to get the things I wanted:  All I could think about is why I wasn’t married yet, why I didn’t have a house yet, why we never went on an actual vacation and so much more.  Oh and of course I wanted more children, but wanted to be married first.  I saw my friends getting the things that I wanted, but didn’t have yet.  This just made me even more unhappy.  So with my wakeup call, I decided to take action and at least work on getting that house.  Since I wasn’t sure of the state of my relationship I didn’t want to sign another lease with him and I was tired of renting so I made the decision to move back in with my parents to save for the house I want and no he did not move in with me.  He tried to convince me to get another place with him and thank goodness I followed my head and not my heart because he has yet to grow into the responsible adult he should be by now.  Also I have decided to launch a natural skin and hair care line which I am very passionate about.  Happily Naturally Me has been doing great so far and I hope to expand the product line by the end of the year.
  3. Actually started playing the cards that life has dealt instead of just folding:  There are things that will happen to you in life that are completely out of your control and you will ask yourself, “WHY ME.”  Just know that you can other accept the turmoil’s that life brings or you can be a problem solver and do something about it.
  4. Being more positive:  All I can say is the Law of Attraction……what you think most about is what you will draw into your life.

So with that being said I can already tell a difference in the way I feel.  I now feel more at peace and excited about getting out and taking on new experiences.  I’m making progress as Just His Mommy  and I will no longer allow the fear of change get in my way of true happiness.

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