I recently sat down with a young, single mother who poured her heart out to me. She was overwhelmed at home and at work. While admittingly, she had over spent for the holidays, things had started spiraling out of control before fall arrived. She started explaining how well things had been, reiterating the fact that she had been doing well and didn’t need any help but…she made a new, single mom mistake. She over committed and under delivered. She over committed to participating in meetings, birthday parties, weddings, showers and happy hours. She under delivered in paying daycare, pest control, credit card, and HOA bills. I asked a simple question– “why?”
She explained that her friends and family were important to her and that they were very supportive. She didn’t want to disappoint them. After listening I asked to review her budget with her. After reviewing her budget, I confirmed that she was in fact, in over her head. I asked another question, “would your friends and family love you any less if you didn’t attend their events?” She explained that she would probably lose some of her friends and that family members would likely decide to no longer interact with her. I offered to assist in helping her to find an alternative solution; after all, you cannot invite friends to celebrate your birthday and not celebrate your friend’s birthday. You cannot have a baby shower and not attend your friend’s bridal shower. You must first be a bridesmaid before you select bridesmaids for your own wedding. She agreed.
My solution was simple– live within your means. Don’t call a meeting if you’re too overwhelmed to attend one. Don’t throw a birthday party if you can’t afford to attend a party. Don’t host a baby shower if you can’t afford to participate in a bridal shower. Don’t plan a wedding if you can’t afford to be a bridesmaid. Finally, don’t invite friends out to happy hour if, you can’t afford drinks with them later in the week. Live within your means. Your family, regardless of how unreasonable they may appear to be, will always be there for you. Your best friends, will always be best friends, even if they don’t like the decisions that you make. Do what you can afford when you can afford it. Live like a new, single mother on a budget. Under commit and over deliver. Pay your bills before you purchase presents. Don’t expect others to support your events if you’re financially unable to support their events. Stick to your budget even if it means missing out on a party, shower or wedding.
I am confident that this new, single mother will be okay. She will need to undergo a radical life style adjustment. The struggle will become increasingly more real. She will experience some consternation as she adjusts to her new life style. She will consider giving up at least once or twice and in those difficult times God will allow her to see her baby’s smile and, in that moment, she’ll know that it’s all worth it.