13 financial steps to a rich life as a single mom

single-mom-finances

Are all single moms destined for poverty, loneliness and effed-up kids?

Quick answer: NO.

Keep reading for details on how to build an amazing life, find love and raise happy kids as a single mother, including my own journey to building a business, income, savings, investments and wealth.

Here are my steps to living a rich single mom life:

  1. How to be a single mom — including with no help
  2. Simplify your budget
  3. Make more money
  4. Embrace that you are now financially independent as a single mom.
  5. Let go of assumptions about what is possible as a single mom
  6. Check your credit score for free—regularly
  7. Consolidate your credit cards and manage debt
  8. Set some short- and long-term financial goals
  9. Understand your new tax situation as a single parent
  10. Protect your family with life insurance and disability insurance
  11. Spend money in ways that will make you money
  12. Practice financial self-care
  13. Dream really, scary big

Also, check these out:

Being a single mom is no one’s Plan A.

But being a single mom does not mean you’re destined for the welfare line, free school lunches for your kids, or living in your parents’ basement.

The first step is to convince yourself that your new life will be one that is full, joyous and financially rich.

[Pro tip: Free yourself from bad energy by selling your engagement ring (or other jewelry!), securely, for the highest price with Worthy. Get a free estimate from Worthy now >>]

Love it or hate it, your finances are one of the biggest parts of your life.

Unfortunately, there are millions and millions of single moms out there that are not giving their finances the attention that the moms deserve. They tell themselves things like:

“Money isn't that important.”

“The desire to be financially secure is selfish and greedy.”

“I should sacrifice my career and financial security to spend more time with my kids.”

“I'm just bad with money 🤷.”

“The only way to get out of this pay-check-to-paycheck mess is to find a man / make my ex pay more child support.”

“Money is too complicated.”

It can be difficult being a single mom, but not taking smart financial steps is going to make it a thousand times worse. Money affects your mental health, the stress level in your house, your access to health care, and your ability to make wise decisions about career / men / family / time. If you feel really broke all the time, you make those decisions from a place of fear and a poverty mindset. If your bills are paid, your career is growing, you have a little extra money in the bank, your vision for your future includes security, financial wealth, your decisions are more likely to come from a place of abundance and confidence.

The good news is that, thanks to technology and troves of information from experts (like moi) it is easier than ever to get your financial act on track, and gain the confidence you need to build the foundation of an incredible, full life for yourself and your family.

1. How to be a single mom — including with no help

I often get asked: “Emma, how can I be a single mom?”

What the question really means is: Emma, how can I be a kick-ass, successful, happy single mom?

And deep within that question is:

I'm pregnant and it looks like I'm doing this alone — how hard can I expect it to be??

I have to get out of this relationship — how hard is it to be a single mom after divorce?!! Please tell me now so I can decide?!!

I'm thinking of getting pregnant on my own. How hard will it be?

If this resonates with you, then let me help you out. What you are really, actually, truthfully asking me is:

How do I make sure my kids won't be messed up — and are even successful, productive adults?

How can I break the stereotype of the welfare, broke, angry single mom?

Will I ever find love? Romance? Where do I even start?

Can I even be a happy single mom?

WTF, this is hard and scary and I don't know where to start?!!!

The fact is that you can more than cope, or financially survive as a single mom — you can thrive.

This is my story.

I was pregnant with a toddler when my ex left. He made all the money and his job provided insurance and other benefits.

I was terrified. I would lay in bed at night figuring out how the kids and I would live in my 1999 red Subaru Forrester. Today, I run a business with revenue of hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. My hot boyfriend of three years is a wonderful partner. I enjoy at least four vacations each year — often internationally, and sometimes with the kids, others with my boyfriend, a girlfriend, or solo. My investments are in awesome shape for retirement, as well as short-term goals. And best of all— my kids are thriving and happy.

In this post, I share how I got over my own mindset blocks that had me stuck. These include:

  1. I lived frugally and simply. Even though I could easily afford a different home, my kids and I enjoy our two-bedroom NYC co-op. We only buy what we need, or what will give us true pleasure, and are mindful of the environmental impact of our purchases. My 2013, banged-up Subaru Impreza hatchback is paid-off and fuel efficient.
  2. I invest in myself first. Every year for the past five years I have maxed out my tax-advantaged retirement accounts (401k and Roth IRA), which are especially rich because I am self-employed (did you know you can shelter up to $56,000 in a 401k if you are self employed?). Other investments include a cash emergency fund, and life and disability insurance. Yes, these investments are wise and advisable, but the greatest advantage is they make me feel safe and secure. Knowing that the chances of my family's future is secure has freed me from untold stress, and graced me with a confidence that informs so many of my decisions. Use Ellevest's free financial planner tool now and get $50 FREE to start investing >>
  3. I live debt-free. Early in my life, I struggled with student loans and credit card debt — did the monthly minimum payment mambo, and tossed balances around to different 0% balance transfer credit cards and other shenanigans. Fast-forward to today and a debt-free life (except a mortgage, with a very low, tax-advantaged interest rate).
  4. I am grateful. It is very easy to slip into assuming society's damnation of single motherhood, and buy into the mantra that as an unmarried mom, I am a hot, struggling mess.

    My secret weapon against the single-mom blues is finding a gratitude exercise. The more you focus on what you DO have, and what you CAN accomplish, and HAVE ALREADY accomplished, the more likely it is that you minimize your focus on what you lost, or what your friends have (that you don't), and free yourself to step into all the possibility of your future.

    A gratitude exercise can include writing in a pretty notebook each morning all the things you are grateful, or creating a family ritual in which each member shares three things they are grateful for before a meal or at bedtime, or simply taking a moment during a stressful spot to remind yourself of all you have. Here are just a few things that I am grateful for:
    *I live in a time of peace, in a place and time where there are unprecedented opportunities for women — including unmarried mothers.
    *My children are healthy, bright, kind and funny people.
    *I have all the love I am capable of receiving.
    *I have skills to pay the bills.
    *So much privilege
  5. I give back. Once you embrace all your blessings, big and small, and step into a sense of true gratitude, the resulting humility precludes you from serving others. This may mean giving to a charity or house of worship. It can include volunteering your time, being a listener, or bringing a casserole, shoveling the driveway or other favor to a friend or family member for those in your life who need a hand, or other selfless acts. My service includes giving at least 5% of my net income each year to charity, my kids and buy extra food each time we go to Costco each month and give it to a local food pantry, and give free consulting services to people, organizations and businesses that align with my principles. Recently, I launched Moms for Shared Parenting, an activist organization to which I am giving my time, money and skills for zero pay.

Have emotional money blocks that you can't seem to get over on your own? I break these all down in How to break out of the broke single mom mindset — and thrive.

Personal finance issues is a popular specialty for counselors. Online therapy is increasingly popular, and a great option for single moms. These platforms provide thousands of options for certified and licensed therapists who provide counseling through text, phone, video and email — whenever you need it. The prices are typically a fraction of what typical, in-person therapy costs.  Try private, online therapy with BetterHelp >>

2. Simplify your budget

If you are stressed about your money, chances are that you are also financially unorganized, whether you regularly fail to stick to a budget (or maybe you don’t have a budget? You’re not alone!), don’t reach your saving or investing goals, or your debt and credit scores are a mess.

In fact, a deep clean of your finances can do a couple, critical things:

  1. Face the facts. No more ignoring what has made you uncomfortable.
  2. Save time and energy.

Even simple things like figuring out what’s the best credit card for your lifestyle can change your financial picture drastically.

Open all your bills and use a bill pay app

If you’re not clear on your money situation, chances are you’re avoiding it.

This may include failing to open bills, ignoring due dates, missing payments and looking the other way, or humming and tapping your foot when friends bring up investing.

First things first: Get real with yourself. This means opening all your bills as they arrive. No ignoring them. This is adulthood!

Second, plug all your accounts into a third-party app like Tiller.

Tiller's online budgeting tool helps you plug in all your bank, credit card, brokerage, checking, debt, investment and mortgage accounts to get a snapshot of all your finances.

One of the best advantages of Tiller is that it syncs with all of your bank accounts and credit cards and categorized all of your transactions.

Tiller will show how much you’re spending on transportation, entertainment, and much more.

This is one of the best ways to track all of your spending and identify any areas that you’re spending too much and places that you could cut back.

Track your spending with Tiller >>

The point is to get a single, clear picture of all your money, in one spot.

Cut expenses

Once you understand where your money is going, time to cut the dead wood. You know the usuals: gym memberships you don't use (get real with yourself, sister! Plus: plenty of free ways to work out.), Hulu, restaurant meals, etc.

One favorite tool is using a bill negotiation service to cut spending. I use TrueBill's ‘Lower My Bill' service, which haggles bills on your behalf. I used this a few months ago, and TrueBill saved me $16 off my monthly AT&T bill while also getting me a bigger data plan, and $23.20 from my TimeWarner / Spectrum Internet bill! Boom!

TrueBill monitors spending (for free) using your bank and credit card accounts, and highlights recurring subscriptions — then will cancel for you any that you want to stop. These include:

  • Cable
  • Internet
  • Cell phone service
  • Gym memberships
  • Amazon
  • Spotify
  • Audible
  • Netflix
  • Hulu
  • Time Warner Cable
  • Car insurance and other insurances

Learn more about TrueBill now >>

Set one due date and automate all bills

There is no reason to write paper checks to pay your bills. Perhaps your landlord requires this ancient form of currency, or your kid’s daycare, in which case there is not much you can do.

For everything else, go online or call the utility, insurer, bank or service and set up automatic payments. Many places will give you a buck or two discount each month for making your own life easier!

The next step is to set the due date for as many bills as possible to the first of the month. Perhaps your cash flow does not allow for all your bills to clear at once, but that means that you are spending a lot of mental energy and stress worrying that paychecks will clear before bills hit.

Set up a free online checking account or high-interest online savings account.

Go on a shopping diet

No more trips to the mall or Amazon.com to browse.

No more retail therapy.

No more “treating yourself” to meals out you can't afford, clothes that break your budget, or gifts for your kids that are outside of your financial goals.

If you are broke, shopping is not a hobby you can afford! Financial stress is not a treat — it is self-punishment!

While you're at it:

Eat through your pantry and freezer.

Use up all the shampoo, soap, toothpaste and mascara in your house before you buy more.

Use up all the cleaning supplies and paper products en lieu of picking some up, blindly, at the market.

Make a strict list before stepping foot in Target and do not stray into the cosmetics departments for a “treat” – and I don’t care how great of a deal you find!

By making each purchase a conscious one, you will feel empowered and confident about your money.

More about how to make a single-mom budget you will stick to

3. Make more money

You can cut costs like Netflix and restaurants, raise the thermostat, cut coupons, and negotiate your insurance, and other tasks that do help your bottom line, but keep you focused on surviving financially as a single mom, and how to afford to live. 

But there is only so much you can slash.

And super-budget thinking is small thinking.

However, if you focus on earning more, growing wealth, and thriving, the sky is the limit!

Decide today to increase your income, your credit, your bottom line. Recalibrate your energy into a wealth zone.

Some ideas for making more money:

  • Take a mentor out for lunch to learn about opportunities in your profession.
  • Research going back to school.
  • Consider starting your own business.
  • Join a local or national networking group.
  • Hell, attend just one networking event!
  • Talk to your boss about telecommuting and other life-balance arrangements.

Thanks to the Internet, it’s never been easier to make some extra money on the side.

There are hundreds of ways single moms can make money from home, in your spare time without having to wait tables on the weekend.

Here is my list of top career-level, work-at-home jobs that can earn you in the six-figures or more. These include bookkeeper, grant writer, coder / programmer, virtual assistant, and blogger.

You'll want to refresh that resume when you begin your job search. Hiring a professional resume writer or resume editor is a huge advantage. A quality resume service will help you not only create a professional resume, but also help you frame your experience and goals in a way that you cannot do on your own. It always helps to have a second set of trusted eyes when it comes to important career moves.

ResumeWriters.com has helped more than 250,000 clients in 70+ specialties update and create resumes, CVs and LinkedIn profiles for students, professionals, executives, military, IT, and those seeking career changes (or getting back into work after staying home with kids, or other life events). Learn more about the quick, affordable services at ResumeWriters.com >>

Resource: Use the job search site ZipRecruiter

My favorite 57 tools for work-at-home workers, including social media graphics, business contracts and incorporation, tools to build a website, bookkeeping software, and more

4. Embrace that you are now financially independent as a single mom

Fights about money are one of the biggest reasons single moms are not romantically involved with their kids' dads in the first place.

The fact that you are now financially free to make good, sound money decisions is one of the most positive, powerful changes in your life.

So is your newly encumbered ability to work and earn more money. You don't have to play to anyone's ego anymore.

Embrace this independence and all the freedom and power that comes with it.

Do not start to dream and strategize about how the next man will be your meal ticket to a better financial future.

Maybe one day you'll couple with a man who is at least if not more successful for you, and than you, which will bolster your financial security. Even then, you need to take care of yourself, and your finances, and build a life and wealth as an independent adult woman. Because you are, and you can.

Yes, you may receive child support and/or alimony. But remember this: That money could go away any time.

He could lose his job, skip town, become disabled or pass away at any moment.

You cannot control that. But you can control how much money you earn.

And you can earn far more than a judge may order you be paid.

Plus: It is critical to your ability to move on emotionally in this phase of life if you are not connected to your ex and your former life through bi-weekly payments.

5. Let go of assumptions about what is possible as a single mom

Your family, media, friends, and colleagues likely give you messages — subtle and not-so-much — about your urge to get married “while you're still young and cute,” settle for a low-paying, but steady job, and how statistically, your kids are destined for juvie and a life of otherwise underperformance.

Ignore those people, and contend with those messages in your own mind (I've had them, trust me! Worries about living out of a car that I didn't even own, visions of constantly struggling). Instead, surround yourself with successful, positive people. Identify successful single moms in your own life, or in the world. Cocoon in messages of what is possible. You absorb it by osmosis.

Single moms are statistically poorer and more stressed out with kids who don't do so great when compared with other families. That is not a sentence for your life. You can do whatever you want, but you have to do it through the lens of a person, a professional, a woman.

Were you offered a promotion of your dreams, but consider not taking it because the travel will permanently damage your kids? Has any man ever in the history of mankind ever had that thought?! Take the freaking promotion, hire a wonderful babysitter to help you out, get a housekeeper for crying out loud, and show your kids — and the world! — how shit is done.

Living your greatest potential is the best gift any mother can give her children and the world.

6. Check your credit score for free—regularly

Your credit score is probably something that you don’t think about.

I go into the reasons why in my post here.

Let’s be honest, most people don’t spend a lot of time thinking about their score, but that could be a huge mistake.

Your credit score plays a huge role in several areas of your life.

It can be the difference in getting approved for a loan or mortgage.

It is going to also to impact the rates that you get on loans.

If you’re a renter, there is a chance that a bad credit score will get you declined for an apartment.

Also, when you apply for a job, your employer might check your credit score when you apply.

Having a poor credit score could keep you from getting the dream job or that new apartment.

Read more: How to use credit repair to improve your credit score

7. Consolidate your credit cards and manage debt

Are you struggling with debt, or otherwise balancing different credit cards and other bills? Have a lousy credit score? This is a complicated, time-consuming juggle that you need to deal with ASAP!

The answer likely includes a combination of a strict budget, debt pay-off plan, and credit repair. The Credit People is an affordable credit-repair company that assigns a single customer service rep to improve your credit score quickly and affordably.

14 steps to pay off debt for good— even on a low income

How to repair your credit — should you DIY?

8. Set short- and long-term financial goals

According to one New York University study, on average single mothers possess only 4 percent of the wealth of single fathers: single moms have $1,000 saved compared to the $25,300 that single fathers have. The study found that black and Latino single mom have a median wealth of zero, while white single moms report $6,000.

Compare this to the 64 percent of successful retirees (those who claimed to be comfortable in their retirement) who saved and invested during their 20s and 30s — prime baby-making and raising years! A recent Allianz survey of professional families found that the average traditional, two-parent family has saved $264,000 for retirement while single-parent families had just $171,000 in savings.

This disparity does not have to be your story.

But you must set some goals to buck the single-mom trap.

Short-term goals might be to pay off a credit card bill, build an emergency savings account, or save up for a vacation.

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Invest in robo-advisors

Long-term goals include buying a home, starting a business, remodeling the kitchen, saving for your kids’ college, or investing for retirement.

The last thing you want is a complicated investment strategy — or a high-fee broker who you may or not trust.

I'm a big fan of Ellevest, which has a really cool and free goal setter on their beautiful website, founded by Wall Street legend Sally Krawcheck.

Plug in your info and goals, and in 10 minutes this free financial planning tool will outline what it takes to reach your financial goals. Use Ellevest's free financial planner tool now and get $50 FREE to start investing >>

One mistake moms often make is that they park their money in a savings account or checking account with a low- or 0% APR. Be sure to invest in the stock market, especially robo-advisor managed funds. Ellevest is a robo-advisor, which means that sophisticated computers manage and grow your money for you — the benefits of which are very low fees, as well as much higher returns when compared to what you get when humans manage money, studies find.

Use this link to get your free financial plan from Ellevest + $50 FREE to start investing >>

If you haven’t dipped your toes into the investment waters, you might be nervous about building a portfolio or opening a brokerage account. Learn about investing basics in this post, as well as the top robo-advisors here.

Save and pay off debt at the same time

Your financial goals likely include both building an emergency fund and paying off your credit card debt.

Which should you do first: pay off debt or build savings?

Answer: Both! Split extra funds between paying off debt and boosting that emergency savings and/or investments.

Related9 steps for single moms to pay off debt for good

Don't make money decisions ‘as a single mom'

Were you offered the promotion of your dreams, but consider not taking it because the travel will permanently damage your kids? Has any many ever in the history of mankind ever had that thought?! Go after that promotion, hire a wonderful babysitter to help you out, get someone to clean your house for crying out loud, and show your kids — and the world! — how shit is done. Living your greatest potential is the best gift any mother can give her children, and the world.

One of the biggest mistakes single moms make is they prioritize saving for their kids' college over their own financial futures.

Nearly half (47 percent) of single moms say that saving for their children’s education is their No. 1 greatest motivation for developing a long-term financial plan — above saving for retirement. Compare that with just 26 percent of other modern families who say the same, according to this Allianz survey.

I suspect that single moms feel guilty for being a “broken family” and attempt to make up for any pain a breakup caused their children by financing their educations. The reason may also be that the moms themselves have struggled financially, and hope to lessen that struggle for their kids.

No matter how benevolent the reasons, don't do this.

Your kid can get loans for school, you can't get loans for retirement. Financial pros will tell you that retirement savings trump college on all fronts: more tax benefits, longer vestment periods and a higher priority overall. Plus, your kids will be super irritated if they have to support you when you're old and you could have made better decisions.

9. Understand your new tax situation as a single parent

There is a huge difference in filing your taxes single compared to filing as a married person.

I don’t expect you to understand all of the tax rules, but it’s also important you understand the consequences of filing your taxes properly.

Read more: What every single parent needs to know about taxes

10. Protect your family with life insurance and disability insurance

Life insurance for single moms

Life insurance is insanely affordable, easy to get, and just plain smart.

Read more about single moms and life insurance in this post.

Life insurance is one of the most important investments that you’ll ever make for your loved ones, especially as a single mom.

Nobody wants to think about tragedy striking their family, but not planning for the worst is one of the worst mistakes that you could make.

One reason that people don’t buy life insurance is because they assume that it’s going to be too expensive, but in most cases, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Bestow life insurance has a quick and simple quote process. Bestow promises no medical exam or lab tests, and prices start at:

  • $3/month for $500,000 coverage
  • $8/month for $1 million coverage

You can read more about the Bestow, backed by one of the largest life insurance companies in the nation, and rated A+ (Superior), in my Bestow review.

Get a free life insurance quote online within 5 minutes now >>

Not sure how much life insurance you need?

Free life insurance needs calculator >>

Disability insurance for self-employed

You need disability insurance more than life insurance. Those who do not have disability insurance through a job, including the self-employed, can find individual coverage through reputable companies for an affordable price. Breeze disability insurance plans start at $9/month for people aged 18 to 60 years old, with monthly benefits ranging from $500 to $20,000.  

Breeze only rarely requires a medical exam. Get a free quote in minutes from Breeze >>

11. Spend money in ways that make you money

Time is money.

If you spend all your free time on housework and errands, you will never break free from your financial challenges and build something new.

There is a reason the wealthy — and even the financially comfortable people — hire out cleaning, yardwork, and other chores: Their time is too valuable doing what they do not enjoy, and they can hire out to an expert, instead.

Pay for yard service, and use that time saved to build a business.

Invest in a dishwasher and spend that extra time studying for a degree that will earn you more money.

Send out your laundry and devote those hours to fun family time.

Put money into advancing your career, learning a new skill or building your business.

12. Practice financial self-care

Create a money self-care practice 

Just as everyone needs a fitness routine and can benefit from mindfulness or spiritual practice, so, too, is the case with money. Creating an action-based plan for staying conscious and actively involved with your money habits and attitudes is the essence of financial self-care.

Examples of items in your self-care practice might include:

  • Daily money gratitude writings
  • Weekly check-in with financial support group/friend
  • Weekly review of all expenses
  • Monthly assessment of financial goals
  • Twice-yearly meeting with financial advisor / CPA / banker
  • Monthly charity donation

Of course, your self-care practice will be your own. As you commit to and tweak your own wellness practice, you will find that it can feel so powerfully positive that — not unlike a great exercise habit — your whole being will crave it when you miss a day or week. That is when you know true change is underway.

Here are other parts of financial self-care:

Face facts about your money

Money still carries heavy taboos, and talking about it with anyone but your partner is still considered rude in many circles. This shadow over money carries over into our own feelings and management of our personal finances, which are easily ignored.

Do you tend to leave bills and financial statements unopened? Do you know exactly how much debt you have — and at what interest rates? How close are you to healthy retirement savings?

Related: 6 reasons why women need more life insurance than men

If you can’t answer these basic questions, it’s time to get really honest with yourself. Face all the facts about your money.

One of my favorite tips is to use free online tools to easily pull in all of your financial accounts into one place, tallying all your income, debt, investments and credit cards. Simply looking at these numbers in one spot is often life-changing.

You may be pleasantly surprised — one single mom who undertook this step at my advice told me she was stunned and thrilled to learn that she had six-figures in assets. You may be less pleased with what you see, and that is OK. Be kind to yourself, and appreciate the bravery involved in taking this first, hard step — which growth depends upon.

Identify the root of your relationship with money

To start a new, better relationship with your finances, dig into where your current relationship started. Think about your earliest money memories and write them down.

What lessons did your parents teach you about earning, spending and saving? Did your parents fight about money? Were finances a source of stress or joy in your home? Was money revered as a very important source of status? A means to control others? Or simply a currency to help achieve comfort?

Just like it can take decades to decode any other life challenges, money issues are complicated and nuanced, and your insights will evolve over time. But honoring the very real early influences on your money relationship can help you take control of a new, better path.

Get support

Surrounding yourself with others who are on a positive, self-care journey with their money is critical to your success in this part of your life. Studies find time and again that the people you surround yourself with have a huge impact on your habits.

For example, teenagers whose friends smoke are also likely to smoke. Same, too, with personal finance habits.

If your friends are all swimming in debt, love to shop when they can’t afford it and care little about their investments, it is time to find a new tribe.

This might include joining a Facebook group of like-minded women, forming a support group in your neighborhood or house of worship, or reaching out to a friend who lives far away and scheduling monthly accountability calls to keep each other on track.

Getting the financial support you need also likely includes working with professionals. A good accountant or tax preparer, financial advisor, bookkeeper (if you own a business), debt counselor and a banker might all be part of your financial team.

These experts will not only provide money- and time-saving services, but will also hold you accountable to your goals. Plus, simply reaching out and creating a professional relationship is a positive action step that will make you feel empowered.

Join my Facebook group, Millionaire Single Moms, where positive, evolved women support one another in building careers, businesses, wealth, relationships and more!

Explore therapy. Online therapy starts at $40/week for unlimited access to a licensed therapist via BetterHelp >>

13. Dream really, scary big

Single moms might get out of rock-bottom poverty mode, but they often fail to truly break free from mindsets that hold them back from their true potential. I often see single moms who blame their exes for their financial limits, complaining that failure to pay child support means they can't go back to school to earn a higher degree, and therefore make more money.

Others say that the lack of their ex's involvement means that they work the hours required to qualify for a promotion. Others blame their family status for not taking on big risks like starting a new business, taking a demanding new job, or otherwise stretching their professional or financial comfort zone, citing needing to be home more, or lack of support as the reason.

I get all of these and have felt them myself. But when I am about to kill my ex for not honoring his visitation schedule, which means I have to scramble to find a sitter last-minute or cancel a media opportunity, I have learned to pause, reach out to my network of sitters, family and friends, and hire that child care, work after the kids are asleep, or otherwise do whatever it takes to make it work. Otherwise, I am giving my power to others — my ex, my family status, or society who I may fear judges me and my parenting.

Do not give your power to others. Do not live in fear, anger or otherwise mute your brilliance. Instead, put the pedal to the metal. Set giant, scary, ridiculous goals. Hire the child care you need, and make parenting about quantity over quality time. After all, if you are stressed over money, resentful over unfulfilled dreams and goals, you are a far, far lesser mom and woman than one who spends a few less hours with her kids, but is living her full potential, and serving as a far poorer role model for her children.

Go for it. You got this.

Kickass Single Mom money manifesto

This is my mission statement for this platform, myself, and for single moms everywhere. It is from my #1 Bestselling book, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), which the New York Post called a “Smart, must read” and was featured on The Doctors, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Jenny McCarthy Show, O, Oprah Magazine, MONEY magazine and more than 150 other outlets:

I will set big, giant scary goals for myself and family, regardless of what my family looks like, or what other people think I am capable of.

I appreciate every single day that I live in a time of unprecedented wealth and opportunity for women, and it is my duty to achieve both to honor the people who fought for me to have these opportunities, as well as for those who come after me.

I accept responsibility for my own financial well-being.

I might not have it all figured out right now, but I am taking steps to be debt free, financially independent, and with a financial plan for the future.

I will never chose to under-earn in order to maximize receipt of child support, alimony or public benefits.

I will never under-earn to minimize paying child support or alimony.

I will take steps to minimize working mom guilt, instead deferring to extensive research that finds that after age 3, the number of hours moms spend with their kids does not impact their development, and actively thwart peer pressure that assumes that the stay-at-home mom is the better mom, because all science finds to the contrary.

I will take big and calculated (and some not-so-calculated) risk. Because that is the only way to grow and change — financially, professionally and personally.

I will seek without guilt or shame work that is exciting, creative and fulfilling.

I will never minimize my professional success — in actuality or perception — in order to appear attractive to men.

I relish that I am role model of earning and professional success for my children. Also, for other women and moms.

I give back. Even — especially — when I feel like I don't have any more to give, I remember that I can give to others, and that gives me strength.

I accept help. I'm just one woman, I am vulnerable, and I can't do everything on my own (that would be insane).

I will stumble, fail, eff stuff up in the worst way. Then get back up and go for it again.

I'm never, ever, ever, ever, ever entitled. Ever!

I am capable of so, so much more than I limit myself to. I open myself up to the amazing and impossible.

Related: Lies that keep single moms broke, overwhelmed and alone


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Disclaimer: The opinions and ideas expressed in the article are those of the author(s) and are not promoted or endorsed by Bestow or North American.

About Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson is an award-winning business journalist, noted blogger, and bestselling author. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post's ‘Must Read” list.Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.  Find out Emma's top Single Mom Resources here.

39 Comments

  1. Mimi nani on December 4, 2019 at 11:21 am

    I was enjoying the article up to the point where the author started talking about the gratitude journal. When you listed one of the privileges you had as “being white” that just broke my heart. Your forum is amazing, please realize you have a wide audience including black women following your articles. Listing color as a privilege simply disempowers any black women out there without that privilege lol.
    Also for any black women reading this, please know it is possible to thrive despite this privilege. When my marriage ended I went back to school and completed my masters in a computer science field and as God’s favor would have it, I secured a great job, paid off my student loans, purchased a house and on the way to obliterating that mortgage. God’s been working it out since then, Emma shares good tips, learn your finances, lose the single mum crutches and have a bigger than life dream. God’s got you, all you need to do is call to him and do your part- work extremely hard!! You can all do it regardless of who you are!!!

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