What should I do – I’m barely scraping by? I have no idea what to do or where to start?
Those are question I get a lot and also hard questions for me to answer. I can share what I did when I was scraping by but I might have some advantages that you don’t and therefore my answers aren’t helpful. Or maybe you see my journey as a lower quality of living and just plain ole don’t like my advice.
The truth is we’re all so incredibly different that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work. We have different upbringings, circumstances, goals and values, and different ways of thinking.
Instead of making this post a step by step instruction manual I wanted to share a certain set of principles that have helped me the most.
These are principles that I believe can be adapted to benefit anyone’s unique situation and have not only helped me financially, but have helped to create a life that I truly, deeply love.
The People You Surround Yourself with Matter
If I did not have my Dad and brothers when I got divorced I wouldn’t be where I’m at today. I just wouldn’t.
My Dad welcomed me in after I got divorced. In fact, I think he was extremely happy that the girls and I would be so close to him. My brothers acted as my best friends. (They always have.)
My youngest brother was by my side literally every – single –day after I got divorced. It didn’t matter if I was having a nervous breakdown, crying my eyes out, or if I was super happy and ready to go hang out. He didn’t care. He was there regardless.
The other great thing about my Grandma, Dad, and brothers – they don’t judge. In fact, they don’t judge anyone. You just cannot shock my Dad or Grandma. You can tell them anything and while they’ll offer advice, they will not make you feel bad about anything you’ve done.
I can’t even begin to tell you how much of a blessing it is to have people like this in your life. We’re all human. We all make mistakes. You need people who uplift you and not people who tear you down for being human.
When you’re just-barely scraping by or hating where you’re at in life and beating yourself up for the mistakes you’ve made, the people you surround yourself with are crucial. You need people who lift you up and believe in you – not people who tear you down.
Confidence is an underestimated trait in a person. If you don’t have confidence and faith in your ability to get yourself out of the situation you’re in, then you won’t get yourself out of the situation that you’re in.
If you’re always surrounding yourself with people who doubt you and drag you down you will be affected by it. If you’re always surrounded by people who encourage you and believe in you, you’ll be affected by that as well.
Make sure the people you surround yourself with boost your self-confidence not tear it to shreds.
At the very least you need to start slowly spending less time with the people who always doubt and insult you and find your support group.
Practice Delayed Gratification
Delayed gratification is the practice of making short term sacrifices for a long term goal.
An example from my life would be purchasing an old trailer to live in so that I could build my emergency fund and work on building an online business. I didn’t want to live in a trailer but I knew that there was no way I’d find rent lower than the $226 trailer payment I was making. Plus, I stayed close to my family.
Now I’m happy to report that I just bought my “forever” house. This wouldn’t have been possible had I went out purchased a house right after getting divorced just because I didn’t want to live in a trailer.
Delayed gratification for you might be working 60 hours per week for two months so you can get your bills caught up and put money in the bank. It might be creatively spending $200 a month on groceries so that you can build your emergency fund.
Delayed gratification is hard since we live in a society of instant gratification.
YOU are the only person who can change your life. Nobody else can do it for you. If you want something you have to be willing to work hard for it.
Stop expecting instant results and start practicing delayed gratification. The feeling you get when you finally accomplish something you’ve been working so hard toward is like none other.
And remember, the sacrifices you’re making now are only temporary. They are meant to help you get closer to where you ultimately want to be.
Change Your Mindset
Y’all this is the super hard part, I’m not going to sugar coat it.
We live in a world where we’re expected to look a certain way, act a certain way, drive a certain car, have a house with granite countertops, become world travelers, etc. But, why?
The road to getting ahead and LOVING your life comes down to following your own goals and not the goals that society has imposed upon you.
You have to be okay with being different.
I know how hard this because I have people in my life who constantly complain about not being able to get ahead and then the next sentence out of their mouth is how they’re going to buy a car/take out a home equity loan/finances appliances, etc. #TrueLife
They think I’m weird. In fact I get a lot of comments about being different:
- I’m told I’m lucky to be able to work from home (I’m not. I worked super hard for it.)
- I get looked at like a foreign creature when I say I want to pay off my mortgage early. (Why wouldn’t I do this?)
- I get criticized for not wanting to spend $20 on a small palette of eyeshadow. (Do I need to explain further?)
None of this matters. The things I work toward are the things that benefit me and my family and bring us closer to the life we want to be living.
I’ll take being a nerdy, weirdo every day of the week over being a stressed out conformist buried in consumer debt.
You need to change your mindset about money. Money is not good or evil. It’s a tool that you use to build the life you want.
Stick to your own goals and values. See money for what it really is.
Build Your Confidence
Next, you’ve got to build your confidence. This goes hand in hand with changing your money mindset. When you are confident in who you are and the choices you make you’re going to be unstoppable.
I want you to be unstoppable.
Here are some things you can do to build your confidence:
- Spend more time with people who lift you up and less time with those who drag you down.
- Set small goals (consider both, daily and weekly) and knock them out of the park. Accomplishing your small goals will give you a confidence boost.
- Make a plan to change your financial situation (either earning more, paying down debt, or revamping your spending habits) and take action TODAY.
- Learn – constantly educate yourself on topics that matter to you.
- Remember what’s important. Money in and of itself isn’t important. It just isn’t. There has to be a bigger reason behind it. For me it’s family, and freedom, and choice.
You’ve got to build your confidence. Even if you do gain financial stability, you’re not going to be happy until you love who you are.
Push Yourself Outside of Your Comfort Zone and Take Charge of Your Career
If you have an income problem rather than a spending problem it’s time for you to take charge of your career.
Anything is possible if YOU believe that you can do it.
All good things take time and hustle but all things are possible if you’re willing to work toward them.
Your personal drive is much more valuable than a college degree. I know many people think that they can’t make money because they don’t have a degree. That’s not true.
You have options. You just a) need to believe that b) know that it takes time and c) most importantly, TAKE ACTION.
Remember – You are Not a Tree
Last, but not least, you are not a tree. You can change your mind and change your direction as many times as you see fit. (I do it all the time!)
Do what you need to make sure that your life is on the path you want it to be.
“If you don’t like where you’re at – move. You are not a tree.” That little quote has helped me immensely this past year of my life and I hope it helps you too.
P.S. The stuff I’ve outlined above is the important stuff – by far. But if you’re ready to get hands on and create a budget, track your expenses, and set goals, I have a budget planner, available on Amazon, that you may be interested in. See it here.
This article really resonated with me. Thank you for writting it I really needed to hear all of the six things you outlined under self-confidence today. I stated a blog recently (using your tutorial as a matter of fact) and I have decided to start working on a new career as a freelance writer. I can write about anything, I just struggle with topics. But your article today really hit home, Thanks again for writing it.
I do have a question: where do you get your imiages for your blog, I don’t have a camera and a blog without pictures is really lame.
Shirria @GDTH says
I’ve gotten pictures from pixabay and unsplash.com. I edit my pictures with picmonkey.
Shirria @GDTH says
I do agree that it is important to surround yourself with people that matter the most to you in you darkest moments. For me that was my mom. She too, is never judging and is very supportive.
I envy the relationship with your brothers. My brother was murdered nine years ago but before that we had a very similar relationship!
[email protected] says
Great post Alexa! I’m not really just scraping by anymore, but I still think that some of these can benefit anyone no matter their situation. Changing your mindset can be very difficult, but I think there are a lot of people that benefit from a change in mindset.
Katasha @ BrokeGirlBlogging says
Wow, great post – I hear a lot of things about being in such a tough situation that even the smallest changes are impossible so this was a great set of guidelines to help anyone who can’t see the light out from the hole they’re in.
Also, another thing – when I become a mom, I hope to display the kind of non-judgemental love and compassion your family showed you.
Kaye Wright says
This is such a good article! It’s hard when you’re at point A and just starting out. Lots of times people tell you to change your situation but they don’t tell you how. I love that you broke it down into easy steps. I often go back and look at your very early posts (and traffic/income reports) then I look at your recent posts (and traffic/income reports) to reinforce to myself that it takes work and TIME to get there. But it’s doable. Great post!
I was also blessed with a great father and 2 grandparents who’d do ANYTHING for me. They were mu biggest supporters and, when I lost my job and had nothing but debt and stress, they took care of me and supported me to create my now successful web design business. We’re lucky to have such amazing people in our lives.
What I love about your post is you are mature enough and humble enough to say you don’t have all the answers and that what works for you won’t work for everyone. A lot of advice people give doesn’t take another persons situation into account. The only thing I might add is besides always reading SingleMomsIncome.comis to also check out a lot of personal finance and frugal websites not just for advice but to learn you are not alone out there and that the weird frugal community supports and cares.
I appreciate this article!! Sometimes it’s easy to forget this stuff when you have so much things on your mind. you forget that this to will pass. I have to say im been reading your blog for a while now and don’t have time to check it out as much as I used to but even if I didn’t come back for months there are still articles relevant to me today.
That is so funny about the granite counter tops. I used to be a real estate agent. We as Americans need to change our beliefs and expectations. You can buy a house without grantite, it will not kill you people! I had to live in a one bedroom trailer after my divorce. I am now a freelance writer/ blogger and couldn’t be happier with my life right now. I live on around $20,000 in CA which is probably pretty crazy but I have no payments except for basics like power, rent, food, I drive a car I own, i don’t use credit cards and I trick myself into saving.
This is a fantastic post. Sometimes it isn’t ONLY about cooking from scratch. Sometimes it takes an entire change of perspective and expectations. I know we’ve been there. I don’t know what I would have done without my family through the trying times.
Thank you for your insight. I have been through similar issues, two things, family is not necessarily the blood relations. After the last of my family passed, several friends stepped up to the plate to remind me I am not alone. The second, as a freelance artist, people don’t seem to understand it is not a 9-5 job when you work at home, it is all consuming. Even when you are working with the kids or doing the dishes you are thinking what do I need to get done next. The big, big thing, give yourself a break not a breakdown. You still need a little down time even if it’s the 10-15 minutes you take a shower and relax. Work time will be the better for it.
Robin moyLan says
Ur brave!!!! U need congratulated. Most people are not thinking Like u. And many many should including myself and my sister needs to read this too. U have a plan n ur sticking to ur guns!!! That’s the way we all need to b. Ur lucky u have family!!!! I have a brother n sister …. That’s it. Thank god for that. Never forget ur roots! Good luck. Great advice! Robin in tx
brenda tetiva says
I thank you for this article on barely-scraping-by-so-what-should-i-do. Best I have ever read. More people needs to take this advise. More people will be happy and less stressed. I was wanting a dream home for family to visit. Now I want something I can live in,like you a trailer-home with very low payments. I am 61 yrs.old and will be able to enjoy life doing things I always wanted to but never had the money. If I want to I will have money I’m saving to buy a home with enough down payment to get my payments a-lot
lower or build a home on the land I will own and rent my trailer home for extra in-come! No more stress and Happy!!!!!
Thank you for this wonderful post! I’m a single mum of two beautiful girls, I really needed this post. I am blessed to still have a roof over my head, and delayed gratification is a must. Things are difficult for me at the moment, and sacrifices have been made. I don’t have the support network that you have, and at points I do feel very low. I work from home also, as I don’t really have a choice, but to do so. My small business is the one thing (other than my children) that keeps me sane. My belief is what drives me, and I will succeed!
This blog post isn’t just about pulling up your big girl boots and making tough choices. This is inspiring, uplifting and just a perfect read to begin 2016! Happy New Year!! Thank you for sharing your insight for moving forward between life and the obstacles thrown at us while living.
Excellent insight! Thanks for writing this. I thought I’d just be reading another list of the usual tips but you’ve worded what really matters in tough times quite eloquently —mindset. I’ll be on watch for more of these from you. Great work.
Thank you, Carlota 🙂
Cary Revilla says
Thank you for a great article. I found it to be realistc nd practical. Everyone is different with different perceptions. All your advice is attainable and sane!
Thank you, Cary!
Sharita Neal says
I can’t even begin to tell you how this post has blessed me. I am a single mom and was just thinking about EVERYTHING that you have discussed. From the positive support system to having confidence in myself to my current employment all the way to looking for a new place and by passed the ones that did not have granite c counter tops Lmbo!! This was so helpful and full of the truth that we need to hear. Is nice to know that someone else is thinking about how we can better ourselves as single parents. I was in church on Sunday and missed half of the sermon because I kept thinking single parenting. I felt like God was giving me ideas about how to start a non profit dedicated to single parents… How to being a type of ministry … we all make mistakes, including myself. I hadn’t been to church in 13 years before I joined my current. And the kicker was this, the first day that I started on my new life is when I found out that I was pregnant . I thought the church was going to judge me when I begin to start showing a baby bump. I thought I was going to be excommunicated but instead they offered kindness, support, donations of baby items,no looked at me funny… And I didn’t know anyone there… By they showed me that God STILL loved me regardless of my mistakes and to not give up. I think it was the positive support that you mentioned and the nonjudgment that made things easier on me and helped my confidence. My son is three now and we still attend the same church. I think that there are more single parents that need to know that just because things didn’t turn out to be the fairy tale ending, they are not alone. Single parenting is not a walk in the park but there are ways to make life a little easier. I think your article is a perfect example of steps that we all can take to make that happen. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SHARING!
K. Finn says
I appreciated your article. I’m in my first job since coming out of school (and, thus with school-related debt). I’ve been very focused on not spending money, even to the point of not going out hardly at all, not buying new clothes unless I have to, etc. I’ve known people that have looked at me basically as a loser for having a quieter social life (and, thus, have hurt my feelings), and your “Change your Mindset” section resonated with me. It’s hard to be “different” in this arena of my life, when I would love to be going out to concerts and professional sporting events, even going to see movies when they first come out. At the same time, I’m single and supporting myself and was recently able to afford some unexpected home repairs that were must-do!
People not in this same boat don’t understand, but I know what my long-term dreams are and I’m working towards them!
When I became a divorced mom of four, I didn’t have time to have a pity party. I was also 1500 miles away from family, and our married friends shunned me (ex is a master manipulator) I was on my own, and when I was laid of from my high paying telecommunications job, I had to hit the ground running. I moved from a 3 bedroom rental home into a 2 bedroom apartment. We didn’t have room for a tv, so we didn’t have cable. I sold everything that was not essential, furniture, clothes, guns, jewelry. I worked 3 part time jobs, and the kids were covered by my ex’s insurance. I didn’t have insurance, do I did my best to stay well. The best piece of advice I can give you is a phrase, “It”s not a wise use of our resources.” I didn’t enjoy telling the kids NO all the time, this phrase was my alternative to NO, 15 years later, after putting myself through school, I am a registered nurse. I still use the phrase, but it’s because I have thought about a purchase or activity and decided, “It’s not a wide use of our resources!”
This sounds so much like my situation. My friends shunned me too because my ex called each one and manipulated the situation. I had no one but thank god for my mom who lives close. I probably would have been suicidal without her support. My ex even turned my own brother against me. My mom even admitted later that he almost had her convinced I was crazy, if someone can manipulate your own mom, it’s bad.
Good article. Thank you for writing it .
I work with the aged/injured/handicapped. A friend of one of my patients’ once told them,”Only do what is neccessary”
LOVE your post Alexa!! We are not born with financial common sence, we have to learn and be WILLING to hear what others have to say about it, THEN apply it to our own lives! My husband and I are married 25 years, 3 kids, 3 dogs. We have no credit cards, just refied the house to a lower rate, paid off 2 cars, bought another car and STILL saving 1,000 bucks a month! We work close to home, very rarely go to the gas station. I drive a very economical car and we are not extravagant. just comfortable, Once in while dinner out but I eat my meals where I work ( lunch kady) at a local elementary school and most dinners are from my kitchen. I will repost your pin and hope it helps inspire others to be financially secure in their lives too! THANK YOU VERY MUCH
Michelle Lee says
I’m a newly divorced mom and have been in search of different ideas/avenues of adding income to my household. I must say I find your blog absolutely refreshing and informative. I will be back often. Thank you for providing such great material.
MEgan @ cRUMBLE PIE says
What a great post, and congratulations on buying your home! I love to read about other strong women who have been through challenges coming out on top through hard work and determination. I’ve had a really challenging couple of years and I recently started blogging with the hope of being able to inspire others through my own journey. Although I have a long way to go with my blog, posts like this are super helpful for someone like me who needs a little motivation to push through the hard times and get organized in order to really take charge of my life and career. Thank you for sharing!
This is so true. My own mom,who I love dearly, is one of the most negative people I know, she has been battling depression most of her life and it has been so hard to realize the less I see her the more refreshed and positive I feel. I really wish i had more positive people in my life. I recently went through a bad divorce after ending an 18 year relationship. My ex turned almost everyone in my life against me, even some of my own family members. He took everything i owned, my car and i had $100 a one year old and a three year old and homeless. I had to pick myself up really quick. I think its in those moments of sheer terror where you find out what your truly made of. What shook me to the core and had me nearly suicidal was actually the best thing that could have ever happened. It made me re-evaluate my life, start living MY dreams/ life and an authentic life. My kids are happy and healthy and while we are not rich by any means I’m doing a whole lot better as a single mom than a married mom. Its so much easier when you only have to worry about what you are spending, making and saving. It’s life changing.
Sorry website is bringingmomshome.org
Its late, sorry about that. #itsamomslife
Reesa M says
Alexa, what an inspiring post. I have gone through similar experience and it is truly humbling. You realize where your strength lies and strong your faith is.
I think this is your families success more than yours. As you said if it wasn’t for them you wouldn’t be where you are. So they have laid it all out for you. You should be giving them more credit.
I give them a ton of credit for being emotionally supportive. I’m very appreciative of that. Although, I’ve seen plenty of people with supportive families who would still rather pity themselves than do something to improve their situation. So while I am SUPER appreciative of my family I will not discount all of the work I put into improving my own situation.
Am I the only having issues with this pin jumping to the App Store trying to get me to purchase games ,highly annoying and a turn off .Kept me from being able to actually read the article
Just read your post while looking for other stuff. Good for you. I too was at what I call my turning point, lost job, in debt up to my ears, behind in rent, car not working, looking at the guy with his life in a shopping cart going down the street and thinking could I live like that.
My motivator was deciding this was the wrong way to be for me I can’t continue like this, I have to make a change. I always liked a challenge, but never thought that it would apply to my life and way of living. But it did and so I changed the way I lived.
One of the things that helped me was putting a piece of paper on the mirror with “challenge” written on it. Every day was a challenge to over come until I read once that “obstacles are only opportunities”.
Your life is also inspirational too me.
Thanks I needed that!!!
I LOVE that. New challenges have been my biggest motivators the past few years. Glad that you were also ale to turn things around 🙂
Very good article good info
You are definitely unique! And I mean in a great way.
I must have looked at least 50 websites in the last month on how to get my finances in order. You are the FIRST website I’ve come across that isn’t full of advertising, or promoting a list of products or books I should buy in order to do it right!
And they all had the same tips on how to do it.
Your site is so different and I love it. I realize that you want to make some money for the time you put in creating and keeping up the website. Nothing wrong with that. But I don’t need to inundated with more advertising than advice!
I also love that the advice you have has more to do with who you are, and what you want out of life as opposed to the same tips I’ve read over and over again on other sites.
Thank you for providing a website that I’ll actually want to check in with regularly.
Is there a way to subscribe to your blog? I can’t figure it out..
Thank you. I’ve read this many times over the years and it still helps me feel better, more empowered and like I’m not the only person out there facing struggles. Your words instill bravery in me- I’ll take a downgrade in living over a life spent in an abusive and unhappy marriage. You are a wise woman.
Aww, thanks. I’m glad you found it helpful but it sounds like you are the brave one!