When the income is all on you and only you, it is hard not to think about money.
The days I've not thought about money, I've actually had to work at releasing the the crampy brain muscles that are overworked by bill reminders and school fees and invoicing clients and keeping the insanely detailed spreadsheet of child support my ex owes me. The vacation from financial obsessing feels good. But then the next day, it is back to the grind.
Even when I was fortunate to have a six-figure salary that enabled me to ease my mind, plan vacations, travel frequently to see my boyfriend and splurge on Santa stuffs for my child and spa stuffs for myself, I still pored over the monthly bills, negotiated my cable rate regularly and stashed away savings the best I could.
This was, in part, my way of retaliating for years of financial misery while I was married. My then-husband was financially abusive (and, as evidenced by that damn spreadsheet, still is) and I was a financial ignorer. My excuses were being exhausted from raising a small child, trying to track money that had never really been there and feeling ashamed, deflated and anxious that we'd never climb out of debt, we'd never own a home, we'd never not worry about the next paycheck.
I was right. We never did any of those things. At least together. But when I was out on my own, I had no one else to blame or depend on or cry with while I faced the big task of repairing my credit, paying my bills on time and negotiating a new salary for a new job. And because I had been putting all my attention on six-dollar bills that had been sent to credit agencies and had sobbed over a $20,000 salary that would never be enough to support my son and me, I was thinking very small.
Then I met my attorney. She became my Coach Taylor and told me bluntly that my part-time work would no longer cut it. It was time to find a good job, a really good job, and earn as much money as I could. No wasting time or tears — get to it.
(A short pause to consider the Coach.)
A few months later, I landed that big job with the income that astounded me. A lot of factors were at play in that financial move, but I really believe much of it came from one woman advising me to earn all the money I possibly could.
That's why, when I read this great post on Daily Worth, a compilation of best bits of advice for women from female power players, I heard my attorney's voice and I was reminded of how much we need to tell each other that it is more than OK to seek out money for ourselves and for our families.
It is even OK to seek out LOTS of money, which is what CIndy Gallop, founder and CEO of If We Ran the World, says boldly, bluntly and with zero apologies in the Daily Worth post. It is so OK that it will not only serve you well, it will also serve me and all other women.
Here's what Gallop advises to other women this year:
“Whatever you're doing/running/building/growing in 2015, set out to make a ton of money, and feel perfectly OK about doing that. As women we don't get taken seriously until we get taken seriously financially. The more money you make, the more we all benefit.”
I get that making all of the money isn't the primary goal for every woman, nor that it is a simple task for each of us. The woman who works minimum wage-retail can only clock in so many hours a day. The woman who goes from work to school to studying to sleep and all over again the next day? She may not have it in her to brainstorm ways to collect a flood of cash while she's eating dinner on the train commute to class. I get that.
But if you are in a place to consider how you can bring in more income, then why not give it some good thought and, even better, ACTION in this year? If your mind is set upon it, without fear and definitely without ignoring, who knows what you can make happen?
We all have different ideas of what a lot of money means. Since I left that big job, my income has come down significantly. While starting my own business has been fulfilling in ways I could not have counted before, it has also meant a new thinking about money (especially vacations and spa stuffs). I will get back to that salary, but I have to keep putting myself on the path in order to make my way there.
I have to give myself the marching orders some months: Ask for that raise, up my hourly rate, turn down the work that costs too much in energy and pays too little in dollars.
Other months, I have to give myself permission: You don't always have to give things (and skills and time and expertise) away for free because you are asked. You don't need those boots today; the savings will serve you better. You can pursue the director-level job or the thousand-dollar campaign rather than the one with a far more modest paycheck. You are worth it.
These are the things I tell myself, sometimes over and over. These are the things I ask the Not Boyfriend to remind me of when too many bills are due on one day or a client's budget bottoms out or I am worried about negotiating a new gig.
Go get all of the money.
You know those late nights when the children are sound asleep and your mind is racing with some big expense that has just popped up on your cell phone bank alerts? When you wish you could win the lottery or be handed another astounding salary or find a sugar lovahhh to manage it all for good?
This is the opportunity to do that for yourself. To pounce on that managerial training, to launch the Etsy shop, to delegate the smaller tasks to someone else so you can take on bigger clients, to decide this is the year you will get a job that pays you what you're worth.
And if it takes some time to get used to the idea that it is perfectly OK, that you deserve all of the money, then remember what Gallop says about how financial thriving serves all of us.
How can we, in 2015, support each other as single moms in going out and getting all that money, in taking care of our wallets and pocketbooks and IRAs, in being less stressed and more aggressive, in being perfectly OK with pursuing big, cold stacks of cash? Or at least the opportunities that will give us a breath of relief during these twelve months and beyond?
I think it starts with kicking our own asses and then each other's. And obviously, by that, I mean women telling women, single mamas telling other single mamas that the time is now to get that job and earn that income. You can be gentle and also serious.
I think the next step is getting creative. I do believe I have a bucket of cash in clothing I have not worn in ages that only requires a drop-off at the consignment shop. I also know that I could devote one hour a week to networking. I've considered more freelance gigs. All of those steps are me moving closer to that warm comforter of an annual income again.
Also, we must stop focusing on small numbers. Whether those little digits are $20 or $20,000 or $200,000 for you, asking ourselves and other single moms how we are going to make big things happen is so much better, more productive and positive than sobbing over six-dollar bills or one hour of overtime. Aren't we done with that shit? It's hard and tiresome and not fruitful.
Finally, let's grow in the process. Desperately shoving dollars in our pockets won't help us grow. Selling illegal prescription drugs online won't either. Doing work we abhor or for people who hurt us or under circumstances where we can't take good care of ourselves or our children is not growing. Sometimes, yes, it is necessary. Many of us have been there or are there. This exercise hopefully will help us (all) move out of survival mode into a space where we can thrive. Growing + money. Sounds kind of great, right?
What do you think? Am I talking crazy here? Is this the best money advice a single mom can get? Can we work together to make this the year of money — no guilt, no shame, no excuses? Just: Now's the time, so go get it.