by Kenneth “Kenny” Wooten
As a society we ultimately have control over how we consume and live within our means. In that same aspect, we also have the ability to overindulge and live outside our means and get into a lot of debt. For single parents, that is a death sentence financially. Debt in single parent households according to US Department of labor statistics is on the rise, due to the inflation of goods and services and the average earning power of single parent households, we are in a bit of a predicament. Also, we are slowing becoming the elephant in the room when it comes to households in America, to the tune of 30% of all households in the US with single parents. With one out of 3 houses with only one income supporting a child, it’s a tough ordeal to survive, much less make due for children. And I am sorry; child support on average according to the SSA is annually $3600/year per child. That does not support any child as far as I am concerned. So how do we combat this problem of living at or below the poverty line ($22,350)? Simple. Combat your debt and SAVE.
Truth be told the only time you have only heard of that word was in church. Capitalism is not geared to use that word because they believe in us to do only one thing-CONSUME. And consume often. Think about it. There are more commercials regarding AARONS/RENT A CENTER/ with predatory interest rates and long payouts to get you stuck under their thumb financially to make you believe this is the only option to live comfortably for instant gratification, rather than saving. Let’s look at this. The average DELL computer is running at best $700. If you can save $100/month over 7 months you have a computer in your possession no strings attached. But, if you deal with a rent to own, you are looking at paying $1200-2200 for that exact same computer, for the same monthly payments. Why do we do this? Our generation feeds into the emotion of instant gratification, which extends our debt further than we need to. So lesson one into debt relief-Save for the things you can pay off in less than 12 months. If you are not willing to save and spend cautiously, then kiss your dream of being debt free goodbye.
Second thing, have a game plan over your expenses and earnings in a given month, and devote a portion of your earnings to pay back debts. This also takes some willpower being that you will be taking away from spending money to have money in the future. If you have a computer, make a spreadsheet of the expenses and how much they are over a given month, if not, Google templates online. Having a set amount of funds devoted to combating debt will be easier to see rather then just putting a random amount of funds to it here and there. Debts grow like a weed, and if we aren’t going to put down weed control on a regular basis, then sporadic payouts are to no avail.
Thirdly, pass your ability to save and save often attitude to your children. As a single parent we are the biggest influence to our kids, and what they do and how they act is a direct reflection of ourselves. My daughter is a penny hound because of two reasons. She knows that a heavier piggybank will yield her bigger toys and she also knows that spending small will yield small toys. So instill incentive to save within your children to create a habit of spending within their means. Cut back toy buying to 2 times a year (birthdays and Christmas). Children need to see the purpose of why you are being a smart consumer, and that is the best gift you can ever give your children outside of paying for college in full. Being a single parent is hard enough, but being debt free is a means to provide more for your children with less stress. God bless.
Copyright 2011 – Kenneth “Kenny” Wooten. All rights Reserved. No part of this commentary may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the author.