Finance is a tool that should benefit you. When the tool is used, it does wonderful things for your life. If you allow it to master you, it will bring pain, frustration, and disappointment. Mastering the tool of finances will bring you into the abundant life that God has prepared for you. Today’s edition is about making tough decisions. All decisions have options. Choose the best one.
Question – Cedric, I have three kids from three different fathers. I get unemployment. I make about $1200 per month and my rent is $600 and the rest of my expenses go to food and diapers. I am also interested in going back to school but I am not sure how can I do this. How do a single mother of three work a budget and have something every month to live. Also, I do not get any outside support from the fathers.
Answer – I am glad that you are taking control of your finances. First it is important to understand your priorities. Your main priority is to first take care of your children. God is going to give you the ability for He takes care of the fatherless (James 1:27). You should prepare your budget and keep track of your expenses for the next 30 days. You must establish a spending pattern. Become prudent and eliminate luxuries now (Proverbs 21:17). Second, work with your landlord to determine if you can reduce your monthly rent because of your recent hardship of unemployment. You are in the position to negotiate because you fill that space and you have been current with you rent on a monthly basis. If they are not interested, begin to shop around for other apartments with competitive rates in that area. Third, look for a job. You have to get back into the work force. Look at different agencies that will help single mothers. Lastly, pray for your children’s fathers; don’t waste time to get money from them right now. Your focus is on surviving. Pray that they will come into their purpose. It is important because you do not want your kids duplicating their behavior. I know that you are interested in going back to school. Right now the priority is the kids. Once you get stable enough, go back to school. I pray God give you grace in your house and finances.
Question – Cedric, I need help. I am married and we are struggling to live. I am under so much pressure to provide. I work but my wife does not; she volunteers for a nonprofit agency. Our credit scores are around 560. Our rental payments are $1900/month. Every month we come up short. How do I take control of my financial house?
Answer – Money is not the major reason for marriages not living up to expectation; it is communication. You have to communicate with your wife to let her know your struggles. She should be your best friend. Let her sharpen you in this time of concern (Proverbs 27:17).
Recommendations: 1) Discuss your family goals and priorities with your wife (Luke 14:28 and Habakkuk 2:2). Once you detail out the vision you can start running toward it. If there is no vision, there is stagnation. 2) Track your expenses for 30 days and have a lock tight budget. What luxury items do you have? Get rid of all luxury items (cell phone, internet, cable). You stated that your largest expense is your rent. You must attack this with a vengeance. Your credit score has inflated your rent. You must correct your credit score by start paying bills on time and ensure that you have no felonious debt on your credit report. 4) Look for opportunities to move or renegotiate a lower payment. Are you paying other utilities (water, gas, and electric)? Don’t become comfortable living beyond your means – downsize fast! You and your wife must be on the same page. Your goal should be living within your means and saving money. Reading your question again, I can assume that you have no savings. Treat savings as an expense not as an asset. 5) Talk with your wife and let her know that the house needs help. Maybe she can pick up a part time or full time job to assist. Again, if you and your wife set priorities and goals for your house, you will become unstoppable. Families that succeed; succeed with goals.
Have a good day
P.S. Encourage your friends and family by sharing this column and invite others to ask questions about their money – it’s free! Send questions to Twitter @CDDukes, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the contact page at www.cedricdukes.com. Cedric Dukes, speaker and columnist, is the author of Hostile Takeover – Manifesting God’s Plan and Purpose for Your Finances.