We have a super special treat for you today. It’s our first ever official follow-up from an Ask the Bitches letter writer!
I’m a single mom and have spent the last 7 out of my son’s 10 years of life struggling HARD. I’ve climbed my way up my professional ladder with no formal education or degree. I accrued $20K in debt during these hard years, but I have a plan to pay it off over the next two years, and overall my prospects are good.
My problem is this: I’ve always dreamed of putting away money for a down payment on a house my son can grow up in. But my son will be 12 by the time I’m ready to start saving. By the time I can afford a house, we’d have little time to enjoy it together. I can’t see myself being stuck with a house at 40 years old and my son gone off to school or whatever he ends up doing.
I know it sounds like this isn’t a problem, but I’m afraid that without a plan or goal, I’ll end up squandering anything I’m able to save once I get this paid off. I’m afraid of having money and not struggling and wasting money. I’m thinking of starting a college fund, a travel fund, I have no idea fund, but other than the small-scale budgeting I can do, I have no idea how money works.
How can I “get riches” and be smart and not lose them for lack of a plan? is it too late to set my son up for success in other ways? Should I just be talking to an accountant?
Any advice you could give would be great. I know how to struggle and fight, but I don’t know how to succeed.
That was last February. And what a difference a year can make! Because last week she sent us an update, and it’s a freaking doozy.
Our original advice
You can read our original advice to Hope here. Basically, it boiled down to four big ideas:
- The general, all-purpose financial advice that’s right for most people may not be right for your unique situation. This is totally okay. You don’t have to do what you think you should, or what everybody else is doing. You have to do what’s right for you.
- When people struggle, their brains change. A scarcity mindset can be very hard to shake, even if the danger passes completely.
- Caregiving and providing trains you to put yourself second. Or third. Or seventh. Remember that part in Aladdin where the Genie says “poof, what do you need, poof, what do you need?” That’s basically what being a sole caregiver is. But it’s looped for several years. Especially if you’re doing it alone, you don’t always have the luxury of anyone asking what you need. It can get to the point where you forget what you need altogether.
- The most basic needs of human beings are identical, but our most complex needs are completely unique. Once you become secure in your basic needs, setting goals will become harder. You will have to work harder to connect with yourself and get in touch with what truly makes you happy.
We recommended a two-prong strategy for Hope. First, we wanted her to follow through with her two-year plan to pay off debt, and follow it up with another year of savings to pad her emergency fund. This would give her a very solid overall financial foundation. Meanwhile, we wanted her to use these three years to reconnect with herself. Years of prioritizing work and caregiving had distanced Hope from her own private wants and passions. We encouraged her to try new things, meet new people, and do all that follow your bliss shit!
So did she?! Let’s find out…
Hello Bitches! I have an update.
I’ve been following your blog awhile and read the advice pretty often. I even requested a mid-year raise using your advice and got it!
The question I asked was a huge deal to me, and you hit it right on the head. I don’t know how to see myself as just myself and I have no idea what makes me happy just as me. But I’m going to find out.
Earlier this year, I walked into my boss’ office and (kind of on a whim) told them I wanted to move to our remote office in Spain and asked what I could do to make it happen. They were thrilled with the idea and allowed me to apply for a position they were planning on opening up the next year.
Bitches, I’m moving to Madrid with my son to lead a new team for my company in February. We’ll live there the next few years. Half of my debt still remains to be paid off, which I’m working on. I don’t know what I’m saving for yet, but I’m putting myself out into the world in a way that scares me and thrills me and I’m hoping for the best.
I really wanted to thank you so much for your advice, which I have taken to heart.
Guys, we were blown away to receive this note. Both Piggy and Mr. Kitty misted up while reading it. I would have as well, but alas, I am too toxically masculine to cry. <snaps Gillette razor over knee> <cuts knee on razor> <DOESN’T CRY THO>
Are you freaking kidding me?!
I think this is the best possible outcome for Hope. This move is clearly a strong career choice; leading an international team is one hell of a resume bullet point. I also think it’s a great gift to give her son. No experience is as culturally enriching as living abroad, and he’s at a perfect age to appreciate the differences.
But more than that, I think this will be a really rad development for Hope as Hope! Living abroad is both a privilege and an achievement. The fact that she not only asked for it, but followed through on it is incredibly encouraging. It’s a big change that requires courage, adaptability, open-mindedness, and a healthy degree of impulsivity.
Moving to a foreign country is one hell of a way to shake things up. It can be inspiring and isolating, confusing and thrilling. Exposing yourself (in a non-Louis C. K. sense) to a daily dose of new sights, new language, new foods, new people, and new ideas will open you up to all of life’s incredible possibilities. Even if it only lasts for a year or two, you’ll carry those lessons with you for the rest of your days.
Readers, if you (like Hope) have a special question you want to ask us, you can! Head on over to Patreon.com and sign up to sponsor our work. Look at all the TILE ADS and SPONSORED POSTS and AFFILIATE LINKS spilling out of every article! Oh, wait. There are none. That’s because we’re completely supported by our Patreon donors. So if you like what we do, and you want us to keep doing it, throw us a couple of bucks! It keeps Bitches Get Riches free and honest. And $5 donors will get to ask us any question they like! If your question is really good, we might even turn it into an article, like we did here. Mostly, we’re just honored to receive wonderful updates like this. They always make our days.
Ugh. I wanna live abroad. I would prefer Luster, aka the Land of the Unicorns described by noted explorer and nonfiction writer Bruce Coville. But I would settle for Japan.
That’s it! Thank you, Hope, for this awesome update. Bitches, would you move to another country if the right opportunity presented itself? Where would you most want to live? Tell us about it in the comments below!