Impoverished Woman's Guide To Wealth
I found myself chatting
it up with a few friends on different occasions on how I am
juggling all the balls in my life. I will admit that right
now life is a bit chaotic. I’m believe that if I took a poll
of 100 mompreneurs, or even single moms, that about 70%
would say that life is a bit chaotic.
One of the priorities in
my life is making sure that my daughter is thriving despite
my career chaos. This journey has been totally
unpredictable. When I got laid off approximately four years
ago, I never thought it would take me this long to
financially get back on my feet. I am in the midst of the
perfect storm of talent, ability, desire and poverty.
Poverty is such a dirty little word. The funny thing is that
my poverty doesn’t look like the “stereotypical poverty.”
My poverty means that I
am not financially self-sufficient…yet. I have all the
promise in the world, but my promise has not yet crossed
over to the ability to pay my bills, reduce my debt and buy
the small home of my dreams. It is what it is. It is
stressful and sometimes it keeps me up at night, but I work
really hard at doing what I can, letting go and letting God.
I realize that there are lessons to be learned about living
in a physical state of poverty.
I won’t claim an
emotional or spiritual state of poverty. For me, it’s quite
the opposite. I claim abundance. I claim wealth. I
understand that there are resources that are overflowing
with cash, just looking for the right opportunity to share
their wealth. I also choose gratitude for the richness that
currently exists in my life.
I am surrounded by
wonderful friends and family, I get to do what I love
everyday and I have an amazing daughter who helps me see
what is important. Sometimes I cringe when she parrots me
saying, “It’s not in the budget!” Some days it makes me sad
enough to cry, but not often. I’ve met very few parents who
wouldn’t want to shower their kids with everything they ever
wanted. Sometimes my decisions are based on my values (no,
you can not have an ipod touch at 6 years old!) and
sometimes they are based on the money in my bank account
(no, we can’t go out to eat tonight.)
The hidden blessing in my
situation is that my daughter and I see our lives through
the lens of wealth. “Aren’t we so blessed to have a great
apartment to live in?” “Aren’t we blessed to have so many
choices for dinner tonight (even if I don’t feel like
cooking any of them),” “Aren’t we blessed to have such a
beautiful park and nature preserve where we can go enjoy
nature’s bounty at no cost?”
I have been reduced to
saying, “We are not spending a single dollar today because I
just paid for soccer.” Do I feel badly about being so honest
about our financial situation? Sometimes, but the reality is
that my daughter is more mindful now when I do spend money.
Most of the time she appreciates the things that she gets.
Now, she’s just like any other kid. I indulged her in one of
her favorite activities, window-shopping at the mall. Seems
counterproductive to me, but she likes to check out the
stuff and walk around with me.
Justice is the biggest
challenge for her. That darn store has a gazillion little
goodies and clothes for girls. This last trip was
frustrating for my daughter, but I didn’t have any guilt
about the turn out. My daughter picked up item after item
saying, “Mommy, look at this!” I politely and calmly asked
her where her version of what she had just picked up was.
Each time her response was that she didn’t know. When we
left the store she looked pitiful and dejected.
I sat down with her on a
bench outside of Justice and just talked. I explained to her
that I am doing my best to secure employment that I love and
that will allow me to get on my feet financially. I also
explained that my priority was taking care of my bills,
debts and eventually buying a house (with the swing set of
her dreams), not buying her every needless item at Justice
that was going to get lost in our home.
I didn’t let her off the hook of feeling like little orphan
Annie. I reminded her that when I found the things that she
needed for a reasonable price I would buy them. My daughter
may want “stuff,” but she doesn’t need much. That’s the
biggest challenge in our consumer driven society, teaching
her the value of life – not stuff. My goal is to fill her
world with a wealth of enriching experiences, which are
usually free. When I can get the stuff, and if it lines up
with my values, I am happy to. Doubt it? Just ask the little
girl who has proudly been rocking her beautiful, warm and
brand new Children’s Place pj’s, which I scored for $6.99.
That and her cupcake slippers she hasn’t taken off, which
set me back $2.99.
My mom always tried to
give us whatever we wanted and I so appreciate her for that.
I’ve been known to say that even if I had a million dollars
I wouldn’t buy such and such. I hope that is still true when
I have a million dollars. I believe that day is coming and I
also believe that had it come sooner my daughter wouldn’t be
half the human being she is now.
Living the life of a
starving artist has taught me to be creative, grateful,
driven, savvy and persistent. My breakthrough is on the way.
I’m just planting the seeds and learning to appreciate
life’s wealth rather than a wealth of stuff!