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Confused and scared
Old 07-20-2005, 06:00 PM   #1
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Confused and scared

I hope someone finds this and gives me good information.

I am so very scared and confused. I am 34 and will be 35 soon. I am a single mother with 18,000 loan in a car. No home and am tring to built my credit. I was never taught how to save or even what everything in life means, but I do know one thing I look at older people working in walmart and I do not want that to be me. Where do I begin and where do I end how do I start when I only make 30 to 40k a year with a 7 year old. Is retiring for me more important then my childs education?
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Re: Confused and scared
Old 07-20-2005, 06:23 PM   #2
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Re: Confused and scared

First, think of how lucky you are.* You have a child, a job, a home, and a car.* There are millions of people that would be happy just having those things.

IF you want more, then it's completely up to you.* Nobody is going to do things for you.* You have to suck it up and get a game plan together.

Write down on paper what you want to do and how you plan on getting it done.

For example,

Goal:* I want to pay down my $18K car loan within 18 months

a) work overtime
b) get a 2nd job
c) find a new higher paying job (might need to get new skills)
d) start my own business (or side business while I work at my current job).

When the going gets tough, the tough get going.




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Re: Confused and scared
Old 07-20-2005, 06:56 PM   #3
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Re: Confused and scared

Pay yourself first - 401k if you have access, especially if you get a match, an emergency fund of a few months living expenses, and a home downpayment fund.
Invest in yourself.
Watch your expenses.
Avoid debt.

It will take patience and persistance, but you have 20-25 years on your side, so don't be too discouraged.
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Re: Confused and scared
Old 07-20-2005, 08:00 PM   #4
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Re: Confused and scared

Quote:
Originally Posted by confused
Is retiring for me more important then my childs education?
Simple answer is yes.

The reason usually cited is that there are loans and scholarships available for college, but no one is going to give or loan you money for retirement. I funded my own education through a combination of loans, grants, scholarships, and work with almost no help from mom and dad. It didn't kill me - in fact my later jobs through my school's engineering co-op program were both very well-paid and good on my resume, and my student loan interest rates were low and tax deductable. If this had not worked out I could have lived at home and gone to the local communtiy college and transferred to a cheap state school. Your kid will get an education if they want one, regardless of finances.

So, I wouldn't worry too much about setting something aside for college at this point. Once you get a solid retirement plan going then it might be nice to set something aside for your kid, but I think you're better off getting yourself on a solid footing first.
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Re: Confused and scared
Old 07-20-2005, 08:06 PM   #5
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Re: Confused and scared

Quote:
Originally Posted by confused
I hope someone finds this and gives me good information.

I am so very scared and confused.* I am 34 and will be 35 soon.* I am a single mother with 18,000 loan in a car.* No home and am tring to built my credit.* I was never taught how to save or even what everything in life means, but I do know one thing I look at older people working in walmart and I do not want that to be me.* Where do I begin and where do I end how do I start when I only make 30 to 40k a year with a 7 year old.* Is retiring for me more important then my childs education?
Your kid's education will be taken care of by the state for a good while longer. Any saving you can do could go either to educate him/her, or toward your retirement. That is a bridge to cross later.

I can tell you what I would tell my daughter in a similar situation. A second job, as the poster above metioned, IMO may not be a good idea. More than your child's education, you have to be concerned with bringing up an OK kid. You need to be around for this to happen.

If you possibly can, get a government job. Then, if you never manage to save much, you will still wind up with a retirement that varies from definitely OK, to unbelievably great. You can often get them to pay for schooling etc. while you hold down a job.

Ha
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Re: Confused and scared
Old 07-20-2005, 08:42 PM   #6
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Re: Confused and scared

Quote:
Originally Posted by confused
Where do I begin and where do I end how do I start when I only make 30 to 40k a year with a 7 year old.* Is retiring for me more important then my childs education?
Welcome to the board, confused.

Keeping up with the car loan will build your credit. *That'll take care of itself.

To take care of you, start by saving. *Watch the expenses, save whatever's left over, and keep an eye on spending. *Save something every month, even if it's just $20. *If saving for its own sake isn't enough, then save for a goal-- paying off the car loan early, an emergency cash account of 3-6 months' expenses, a home downpayment, whatever's important to you. *Conventional wisdom says that you should max out your workplace 401(k) contributions. *You can also save your down-payment money in a Roth IRA and then withdraw if for your first home purchase (that's the basic idea, there are limits and additional rules in IRS Publication 590 or on the Dollar Stretcher website).

One of the better sites for evaluating money choices is The Dollar Stretcher. *Sign up for their twice-monthly e-mail newsletter and start teaching yourself in small doses. *Initially every link will be interesting and it'll take you an hour to read the newsletter at one sitting, but after a few months you'll be an expert and you'll breeze through it in a couple minutes...

Your retirement is FAR more important than your kid's education. *You can't count on your kid to get a good education, make a billion dollars, and then support you for the rest of your life. *Put your savings in tax-deferred accounts (401(k)s & IRAs) so that they won't be held against you for financial aid eligibility. *There are many ways to go to college without money-- scholarships, part-time jobs (for the kid!), & loans. *There's the military option, too, although that's certainly more difficult & much less popular. *

Speaking as a parent with a spouse, I can't imagine working overtime or getting a second job while raising a seven-year-old. *Heck, that IS an overtime second job.
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Re: Confused and scared
Old 07-21-2005, 08:04 AM   #7
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Re: Confused and scared

Wow more information and support then I could have paid for. Thank you and it has givin me hope.

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Re: Confused and scared
Old 07-21-2005, 11:31 AM   #8
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Re: Confused and scared

confused said in part:
" Is retiring for me more important then my childs education?"

I know this is a financial board and you asked a financial question. I want to address this specifically. The answer is not financial. My dad pretty much had nothin financially. He had five kids. When there were just the four kids we lived in 3 rooms over a garage in a tough part of Chicago. (When my younger brother arrived we upgraded to a two bedroom apt). My dad loved us, would "take a bullet" for us, and often worked two jobs to support us. He wanted us to go to school as he had been taken out of high school by his father in the Depression to work. But he had no money. All the kids made it to college; my oldest sister was a National Merit scholar when no one in the neighborhood had ever heard of that. Another sister became a lawyer. One brother has a grad degree and is a pilot and AF officer. One brother is a successful electrician. (Only made it to Jr College). I got to the Univ of Chicago on scholarships. Lots more school after that.
Now everyone of us will tell you that we went to school because of my dad. It was his dreams that sent us. The money is incidental; it will come somehow if the spirit is willing.
Make sure your kid wants to go to school, wants to learn. Then get out of the way.
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Re: Confused and scared
Old 07-21-2005, 11:42 AM   #9
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Re: Confused and scared

Great post Yakers.
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Re: Confused and scared
Old 07-21-2005, 12:05 PM   #10
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Re: Confused and scared

Nothing wrong with working at wal-mart. I know a guy that is working his way through college there. He also gets around a 20 percent discount on stock working there. Imagine how well you would have done doing that over the years. Why do you have a 18k note on a car (depreciating asset) and then think you dont have enough money to save? 30-40k is a lot of money for some people.
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Re: Confused and scared
Old 07-21-2005, 12:22 PM   #11
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Re: Confused and scared

Maddy - i think she was saying she didnt want to end up old someday working at walmart.* That's quite a bit different situation than a youngster making some money on the side for college, dont you think? I picked up dirty diapers in the parking lot of walmart when i was 17. But i was 17....
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Re: Confused and scared
Old 07-21-2005, 12:49 PM   #12
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Re: Confused and scared

dirty diapers in the parking lot? I guess that I didnt know that there was such a job..My cousin (not brought up that he wants to go to college) and lives in his grandma's basement runs a sweeper at the mall lots after hours. He seems to love it (time to himself and think) and some people end up leaving stuff (he finds boxes of laundry soap, etc.) that people forget, lol. Never heard any diapers stories, lol.
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Re: Confused and scared
Old 07-21-2005, 12:58 PM   #13
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Re: Confused and scared

Yakkers really hit the nail on the head regarding the question of your retirement vs your child's education. I'd just add (since I know that as a mother you're going to feel GUILY no matter what you do! ;-) that I'm another example of his point.

I never got a dime from my parents for college - they just didn't have it. But my grandfather and my mother were VERY clear about the value of an education, they encourage me to do my best, and reinforced the belief that I had the brains to do whatever I wanted.

A few years at McDonald's, a stint in the Navy (peacetime only!), a variety of other jobs not worth mentioning, and I worked my way to a BA and an MBA, both from UC Berkeley.

Take care of your retirement without guilt -- if your child has the ability and you nurture that, you've done the best you possibly could.

Caroline
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Re: Confused and scared
Old 07-21-2005, 01:35 PM   #14
 
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Re: Confused and scared

Just to brainstorm: Can you sell the car, pay off the loan, and buy a more economical car?

I'd recommend that you get The Complete Tightwad Gazette from your library. It's perfect for your situation.

Concerning Walmart -- the book Nickel and Dimed gives a good idea of what it's like to work there.
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Re: Confused and scared
Old 07-21-2005, 02:25 PM   #15
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Re: Confused and scared

http://www.simpleliving.net/forums/simpleliving/

is another forum. They talk about that tightwad gazette. Some of this stuff here is "a little out there" like making your own soap, but if its fun for ya....
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Re: Confused and scared
Old 07-21-2005, 03:26 PM   #16
 
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Re: Confused and scared

The simpleliving forum can be a little extreme, but I've gotten some good ideas there. Here is an example of an extreme post from this week (I'm not making this up):

Quote:
... Another thing in my fridge that probably should be thrown out is a container of peanut butter that may or may not have tiny bits of broken glass in it. I dropped the jar and it broke, so I carefully scooped out the peanut butter and tried to get all the broken glass out, but my husband cut his tongue on his sandwich at work. So I heated up the peanut butter and put it through a mesh strainer to get the smaller glass bits out. I'm still scared to use it, but I hate to waste it. There's probably a whole dollar's worth of peanut butter in that container! And it MIGHT not have any glass in it!
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Re: Confused and scared
Old 07-21-2005, 03:36 PM   #17
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Re: Confused and scared

Duh

What a bunch of rookies! 1. You don't need to have anything that requires refrigeration. 2. Electricity may be useful for some - but should be used intermittently and sparingly - one or two hours per day at most.

Warm beer - ala the Brits - was always tough though.

Ooops - almost forgot:

Heh, heh, heh, heh, heh.
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Re: Confused and scared
Old 07-21-2005, 03:57 PM   #18
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Re: Confused and scared

Quote:
Originally Posted by yakers
confused said in part:
" Is retiring for me more important then my childs education?"

I know this is a financial board and you asked a financial question. I want to address this specifically. The answer is not financial. My dad pretty much had nothin financially. He had five kids. When there were just the four kids we lived in 3 rooms over a garage in a tough part of Chicago. (When my younger brother arrived we upgraded to a two bedroom apt). My dad loved us, would "take a bullet" for us, and often worked two jobs to support us. He wanted us to go to school as he had been taken out of high school by his father in the Depression to work. But he had no money. All the kids made it to college; my oldest sister was a National Merit scholar when no one in the neighborhood had ever heard of that. Another sister became a lawyer. One brother has a grad degree and is a pilot and AF officer. One brother is a successful electrician. (Only made it to Jr College). I got to the Univ of Chicago on scholarships. Lots more school after that.
Now everyone of us will tell you that we went to school because of my dad. It was his dreams that sent us. The money is incidental; it will come somehow if the spirit is willing.
Make sure your kid wants to go to school, wants to learn. Then get out of the way.
Couldn't agree more. I am one of four kids. Two are lawyers (well, assuming I pass the stinking bar next week!), one is a professional musician (with a Masters degree, currently working on a PhD) and the other recently graduated from college (with honors) and will be applying for PhD programs soon (which he should get into, no doubt). Amount of money my parents had saved when we started college: Zero dollars. They helped each of us out by taking out small loans when the feds wouldn't offer us enough student loans. But the point is, my parents did not need to worry about saving an arm and a leg while they were raising us. Each of us wanted to go to school. Each of us found ways to make it happen.

I found that the people in college with large trust funds or parents/relatives who paid all of their tuition and living expenses (1) did not appreciate the true value of education, (2) did not study as hard (because of #1), and (3) did not have as high of graduation rates (also because of #1). If kids do not want to go to school, money won't change their mind. And if they do want to go, money isn't necessary.

Barry
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Re: Confused and scared
Old 07-21-2005, 04:02 PM   #19
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Re: Confused and scared

Great info so far. My first thought was that the car needs to go, but then I'm a big single man who can work on cars, and a single mother may have more security concerns. Think about whether you have the ability to safely get a cheaper car: do you have family to help you out during possible breakdowns, and do you know a mechanic who doesn't seem to cost you several hundred dollars every time you visit? If so then you can probably get by with a 2 - 4 year old car and save lots of money. If not, or if you're too upside-down in the car then you'll have to pay it out.

I had an $18k loan and downgraded to a $7k car paid out to a relative. That was a huge help in my budget, and now I'm debt free and building after-tax savings. (I've always done well with pretax savings.)

More on college: I paid my way through a 2-year degree. Not sure I would've paid as much attention if it wasn't my hard-earned money. My (single) mother let me stay with her and let me pay cheap rent; that was my college help, and it was a great help. If I have kids I'll be in a position to save for their college, but it's going to be a quandry for me to decide to do that versus saving more for me and retiring earlier.
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Re: Confused and scared
Old 07-21-2005, 04:36 PM   #20
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Re: Confused and scared

I agree with the tone and tenor of other posters.* Retirement savings come first.* The car payment is tough but she may be stuck with it.*

She needs to hold a job that has a 401k (or other retiremet savings program), has enough take home pay to meet current needs AND allows her to meet her child's emotional needs.* If she can keep her child's education on track and inspire a love of learning higher education will take care of itself.*

The biggest mistakes she can make is to spend money on "stuff" and let her child go astray.* "Stuff" includes material goods that aren't necessary (the latest shoes, clothing, and electronics) and expensive vacations.* *Make a spending plan, aka budget.* Even a child can have a personal spending plan.* Teach the child the difference between needs and wants, and the consequences of choices.
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