2015 has come and gone, with so many happy memories for us. It has been such a sad year for so many, who are continuing on to 2016 with the devastating loss of a child, parent or other beloved family member. Our small community has faced extreme hardship this year on many levels, but the one that stays in my mind constantly is the loss of two sweet boys. I cannot imagine the pain that those two precious families endure by the minute, hour and day, but they are a constant in my own thoughts and prayers.
I learned so much about myself in 2015. I joined a church, lost my church family, found my way in my personal and financial life and learned how to stand on my own two feet. I see so many posts about people who are ready to face the new year with open arms, because of what happened to them in 2015, so this post is in the hope that others can learn from what has helped us so much in our prayer, personal and financial lives.
I believe in setting goals, however small. I have a goals notebook, and I write them down so that I can see them and remind myself what I am aiming for. I strive to be a better example for my kiddo (who seems to be a money hoarder…just his money, not mine, ha) so that he will not make the same silly financial mistakes I have made. I am an emotional spender, self-diagnosed, so recognizing what on earth I was doing was one of the first keys to a better life for me and Cole.
*My disclaimer is this. I know the key to a higher salary and more financial stability is sometimes a college degree (sometimes not, Allen is a highly skilled laborer, and he made quite a substantial more money than I do). If you are single mama or daddy struggling to make ends meet, please understand that I feel you, I would love to talk to you, or point you in the direction you need to go. 2016 is a fresh new year, and it could be the year you break the bonds of debt. Stop being a victim and take responsibility for the situation you are in. You will feel so much better because of it!
Goal #1-Cole. Cole is always my number one priority. He is my first and last thought of the day. I am always filled with doubt and anxiety that I am somehow screwing him up and not doing enough. But I think that every good mama and daddy feel the same way. My goal with him is more quality time. Quality does not have to mean taking him on grand vacations (although we do have our beach vacation booked already, so that we have more time to save money for go carts, the aquarium and a shark sighting expedition while we are there), or buying him the best of everything. He loves to play basketball with me, get out his sidewalk chalk and draw on the driveway with me, and go to the park. All of those things are FREE. He loves the library and digging in the dirt. Listen to what your child wants to do the most with you. Chances are, it is simply your time and your listening ear (I listen for a living, so I am guilty of sometimes not having enough patience to listen when I get home, pray for me, this is one of my weaknesses).
Goal #2- Working on our walk with Christ. In 2015, we finally joined a church, only to then be heartbroken months later by a church split. We think we have found a new church home, so this is my prayer for us for 2016. As a single mama, I am the spiritual leader of my home (no pressure). It is my duty to make sure that Cole is raised knowing God, and believing in the power of prayer. He is such a happy child, and loves Sunday school and church. I want to nurture his kind heart and love of life and God. On another happy note, when Allen and I were married, he said he would never darken the door of a Baptist church. Cole set in to pray for his daddy to “find” our church last summer, and it was an amazing day when he came to church with us! Please keep praying for him, because he is a strong man of faith, and Cole and I are pulling for him.
Goal #3- Vacation for CASH. This is a biggie. I have a super nerdy budget binder, and it makes me so happy to write out my monthly budget, complete with my debt snowball, so that I can see what life holds for us three months, six months, and a year from now. It is awesome to see that hard work in action! I did not set out a couple of years ago to be handing out financial advice to single mamas, but that is the pathway God set out for me. I was a broken person, with little hope for my financial and spiritual future. If God can “fix” me, he can do the same for you. I have set up a vacation savings account, and I encourage you to do the same. Most places will let you pay a deposit and pay out your rental over the next six months, as long as you are booking for seven days. We save all year for this opportunity, and I used to vacation solely on credit cards, and then pay off the balance for the rest of the year (just like Christmas gifts). Nothing makes you more sick to your stomach than getting that first credit card bill when you get home. You don’t have to go big or go home, but some time away with your family is always refreshing.
Goal #4- Continue with my debt snowball. I conquered my credit card debt in 2015, but I didn’t figure in my real estate and property taxes, and homeowner’s insurance. Since I didn’t budget for those, back into credit card debt I went. My plan for 2016 is to get us back out, and pay off my car in January of 2017. I know that Dave Ramsey would tell me to get rid of my car and pay cash for a less expensive one, but I need a dependable vehicle to get to work, soccer, Jiujiutsu, church and the grocery store. I can say that I will enjoy it when that bad boy is paid off, so that I can push that amount into my student loan debt. (Thank you, grad school, I miss you)
Goal #5- Continue saving. I made a decision this year to automatically move $100 per pay period into my savings account for my emergency fund. You have an opportunity with your tax refund to begin an emergency fund. Heck, you have an opportunity this next paycheck to start one. Every little bit helps. If I can do it, with my love of handbags, shoes, stationary, nice candles and throw pillows (seriously) can do it, you can too, sister.
I am pulling for you in 2016. I will pray for you, if you need me to. You’ve got this, I know it.