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Financial Health for Working Moms: Taking Action Towards Independence

Being a working mom is about more than just managing the household and making sure everyone gets to school and work on time. Moms in the workforce are powerful contributors to the economy and their family's financial stability. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020, 72% of mothers with children under 18 years old were in the workforce. And, according to The National Women’s Law Center, 42% of working mothers are the primary breadwinner for their families. 

However, achieving financial health and independence as a working mom comes with a price. With skyrocketing childcare costs and navigating limited opportunities for career opportunities and growth, taking control of your financial wellbeing as a mom can feel overwhelming - especially if you’ve incurred debt while trying to survive and support your family.

According to NerdWallet, 11% of single-parent families spend over 40% of their monthly income on debt payments. This creates a huge hurdle for working moms to get ahead on the path to financial independence. Whether it's student loans, credit card debt, or medical bills, debt can weigh heavily on a family's finances. While I’m not in a single-parent household, I started relying on credit cards after experiencing underemployment and unemployment as a result of becoming a mom. I can attest to how heavily this debt-to-income ratio can weigh on your family and your own wellbeing. 

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned since working with MOMentum is the importance of asking for help. Whether it's seeking advice and guidance from direct support programs, or leaning on friends and family for support, there is no shame in asking for help. By having conversations about my experiences and challenges, I have found incredible resources and inspiration in this community! 

MOMentum is all about creating a supportive platform where women can come together to share their experiences and seek guidance without judgment or stigma. With the support of my community, I found the confidence to take steps to get out of overwhelm and into action. Sometimes it feels impossible to balance it all or feel like you’re getting ahead. But with determination and the right connections and strategies, creating a stable and sustainable financial future for myself and my family is achievable.

I’m not a financial professional and am currently working towards getting out of debt! My financial situation as a working mom was overwhelming and unmanageable. But here are some practical steps I took that have helped me get on a path to progress.:

1. Assess Your Current Financial Situation: Begin by taking stock of your current financial status. This includes evaluating your income, expenses, and debts. If you have savings or other assets, you can account for those as well. Many working moms are just treading water, especially when dealing with debt, and it can feel embarrassing. It’s important to be honest with yourself throughout this process and know you’re not alone in your experience. Understanding where you stand financially is a critical first step to making a realistic plan. 

2. Create a Realistic Budget: Develop a detailed budget that outlines your monthly income and expenses. Be sure to include all essential expenses such as housing, utilities, groceries, childcare, and transportation, as well as any other spending. Creating a budget will help you track your spending, identify areas where you can cut back, and prioritize saving and debt repayment. If you’ve never created or followed a budget before, there are many free resources and apps that can help you.

3. Prioritize Debt Repayment: This was the toughest one for me. If you have accumulated debt, prioritize paying it off as quickly as possible. You can take a DIY approach by tackling high-interest debt first, as it can quickly spiral out of control. However, this can be challenging if you’re depending on credit cards for your basic living expenses every month (especially childcare). If your debt is unmanageable, there are options and resources to help reduce your interest and payments such as debt management plans through non-profit organizations or your creditors themselves. 

If you look for assistance repaying your debt, be sure to do your research. Be careful to avoid scams or predatory companies who are looking to profit further off your debt.

4. Utilize Available Resources and Support: Take advantage of resources and support services available to working mothers. This could be anything from child care assistance programs, family support services, career counseling, financial literacy workshops, or networking events. Organizations like MOMentum provide valuable assistance and guidance tailored to the needs of working moms in Omaha, Nebraska, and can point you in the direction of other resources in the community. 

5. Stay Persistent and Flexible: One of my biggest challenges around money has been my mindset. I have a daily ritual of reminding myself that taking care of my finances and achieving stability for my family requires persistence, adaptability, and patience. Just like at work or at home, some days there will be setbacks. Some days you will feel like it’s impossible. The only basic requirement for you to change your financial situation as a working mom is deciding that you’re going to change. If you’re willing to stay committed to your goals, you will find the strength and motivation to be flexible as unexpected obstacles come your way.

To kick-start taking action aligned with these practical steps, ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I truly aware of my current financial standing, including income, expenses, and debts? What steps can I take today to gain a clear understanding of my financial health?

  • Have I developed a detailed budget that reflects my income, expenses, and financial goals? How can I prioritize my spending to align with my long-term financial aspirations?

  • Am I taking proactive steps to address my debt and improve my financial stability? What strategies can I implement to accelerate debt repayment and reduce financial stress?

  • Have I explored all available resources and support services for working moms in my community? How can I leverage these resources to enhance my financial well-being and achieve my goals?"

  • Do I maintain a positive mindset and remain committed to my financial goals, even in the face of setbacks? How can I adapt and adjust my approach as needed to overcome obstacles and continue progressing towards financial independence?

All of the moms in the MOMentum community care deeply about having conversations to change the quality of life for working moms in Omaha. We would love to have you join the conversation by following us on Facebook or participating in our programs. By taking proactive steps, seeking support from organizations like MOMentum, and maintaining a positive mindset, working moms in Omaha can empower themselves to navigate financial challenges and strive toward a stable and sustainable financial future for themselves and their families.

-Written by Fly Jamerson

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