Friday, April 6, 2018

1y1m27d : Single parenting thoughts - finances

I am a single mother. My daughter has one parent, me. And of course this comes with certain special issues that 2-parent families don't have to deal with. But most of the time, I don't feel any different from any other parent. In fact, I often think things are easier that it's ONLY me and my daughter and I'm not having to deal with another person in our family.

People sometimes say things like, "I don't know how you do it!" or, "You're so strong!". Really? Because I'm just living my life and I happen to be raising a tiny human. Sometimes I think that because I had a child when I was older, and that I was as prepared as I could be, particularly, although not exclusively, financially, that it's just a bit easier for me. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm an academic. I do not make a lot of money. I'm solidly middle class with an income that is nowhere remotely close to six figures. But I had savings; and, I was lucky that trying to conceive didn't eat it all up.  I also don't spend as much as I once did on things like eating out, or gig tickets, or travel, because it's that much harder with a  young child. And I've never been much into clothes - I do buy clothes but I tend to wait for sales, or indulge in my eBay addiction for used stuff which is much, much cheaper.

And to be honest, raising MJ at this point in time isn't horrifically expensive (once you account for nursery, which IS horrifically expensive, but I've got that covered). The investment in cloth diapers was a bit of an outlay, but now I don't buy diapers, so I think that works out better in the long run (and, of course, I got a bunch off eBay so they were lower cost).  It means I have a bit of spending money for small indulgences- books and toys which mostly are pretty cheap. And I also get most of her stuff (like clothes) off eBay because it's ridiculous how expensive new kids clothes are and how very little they've been worn. It means I can pay for things like our WaterBabies class and not think twice about it when other moms I know say things like, "Oh, but that's very expensive isn't it?". I mean, I guess? But what else am I spending money on?

So would life be easier with two incomes? Maybe? But we'd need more stuff, more space, more food, etc. There are certain things that would be easier with another parent- like I could go do something and have 'free' childcare. But I do sort of have this because boyfriend will watch MJ if there's something I really need to do.  In the same way that many single parents have extended family who can help them out. I do know some single parents who are entirely on their own, but many have a village, or build a village that can support them. It's not the same as a partner who has an actual responsibility to the child, but a good network goes a long way. And if my village can't watch MJ, then I just have to pay for a sitter. It's not cheap (£10/hour) so I don't do it very often at all, but if I HAD to do it, I would do it and it's an option to me. It's not impossible, it's just money.

And let's face it, I knew that having a child would entirely shift my life, and my habits would change. I guess I'm just happy that overall, we're not struggling or anything. We're not rolling in it, but we're fine. We can have nice things (some gently used) and we can go on holidays and have nice food and swim lessons. What else do we need really? I guess because I don't know any different- that I've been on my own for so long, that I planned for having a child, and was financially ready to change my habits, that it's generally all worked out fine. Maybe I'd be amazed at how much more spending power I'd have if I had a partner? But somehow I don't think so. And anyway, it doesn't matter, because we're all good!