My name is Emma Johnson. I’m a single mom. I’m a bunch of other things, too. I’m a mom-mom. I’m a writer, journalist, business owner, small-town Midwesterner, New Yorker, world traveler, homebody, cook, friend, neighbor and woman. I love to bike, run, dance, and do yoga (though inside I’ll always be that fat kid in gym class). I’ve been broke and I’ve figured out how to make a good living. I love talking about money. Maybe because so few people do.
If you’re here, you have a story. Here’s the short version of mine: My husband and I had a stable if contentious relationship. We were those typical, ecstatic first-time parents. That first year of my daughter’s life was my happiest. Then, when she was 14 months old, my husband went on a work trip to Greece. My phone rang. His boss was on the line. My husband had fallen off a cliff. It’s serious, he said. My daughter and I jumped on the first flight to Athens. He had a brain injury. Nearly killed him. My ex-husband is perhaps the strongest person I know. If you know about brain injuries, you know people are never the same, even when their recovery is — by all doctors’ measures — miraculous. A month later he came home. He was angry before. We fought before. Now it was impossible. Then I got pregnant again. Then he left. I had a second baby, a gorgeous boy.
I’d always been into my career, ambitious. I grew up poor with a single mother. That shaped a lot of who I am, how I think about money. After a few years as a (poor-ish) newspaper reporter, I started working for myself as a freelance journalist and writer. Self-employment was the most exciting, empowering thing I’d done. I figured out how to make money. The sky was the limit. Here’s my work site.
When my daughter was born in 2008, I’d cut down to 12 hours per week of work. Still made pretty good money, but not enough to live on. After separating, I got child support for a while, I knew that wouldn’t continue for long. It didn’t. I had to figure it out on my own. And I did.
The past three years have been my hardest yet. And they have been the most wonderful. My kids are thriving. I am at my strongest, my happiest, and in every sense of the word — my wealthiest.
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Here I am chatting about divorce, women and money with my friend Russ Thornton of Wealthcare for Women (he’s a financial advisor for women going through divorce).