Single Mom: I’m 42 years old, divorced, and a single mom of three elementary school-age kids. I work in the administration of a nonprofit. I live in a Maryland suburb of D.C.
I’d love to see what “pro-lifers” have to say about helping this woman doing what she can to get by.
M:Can you break down some of the numbers for us? How much do you allocate toward rent and utility bills, child care, and things like gas and groceries?
SM:I pay $1,480 per month in rent, $1,386 per month in child care, and I usually pay about $75 to gas and electric, though as I said, my bills are often higher than that. I keep my groceries to $400 per month, and that includes things like toiletries and household supplies. One of my children has some medical issues so I pay around $100 in medication for him per month, I do have Internet and phone and basic cable, which is bundled and has recently gone up in price to $130 per month so I will most likely have to cut back that service in some way..
I try not to drive too much—I take the bus and metro, but that can even be expensive during peak hours. I have a prepaid cell phone and only pay $25 per month for that. My phone is very old but I am planning on keeping it for as long as possible because the plan will increase by $10 if I get a newer phone. I pay about $150 per month to credit card debt. One is a card that I have closed and I am paying off the balance. I am almost done paying it. I negotiated with the bank that issued the card to pay a lower monthly amount in but it has taken longer to pay off
M:Do you have student loan debt or other debt besides the credit card?
SM:Well, that’s complicated. I personally do not have actual student loan debt but while I was married, my husband and I consolidated our loans with the Department of Education. Since I had the loan with the DoE, we consolidated in my name. He got his master’s overseas with private loans so he had a lot of debt. In the divorce, that debt landed with me since it was in my name. So there is a $48,000 student loan debt that I have for an education my ex-husband got. I have been able to put it in forbearance and even deferment when I was unemployed but it’s in repayment now. I have not been able to pay one penny of that debt. I have to deal with it but it seems so daunting, I am just incapable of figuring out a solution.
M:Your ex-husband is not making an attempt to pay off that loan?
SM:No, he is quite happy that he doesn’t have to pay it!
M:That’s terrible. Is the loan sitting there accruing interest?
SM:Interest and late payments. I have been getting calls from the company recently and they offer to “help” me figure out a payment, but the reality is that I don’t have anything to give them. You’ll be happy to hear that the master’s my ex got has allowed him to earn a great salary, though!
The United States is a consumer economy, meaning that consumers are the ultimate drivers of the economy. This is part of why growing income inequality is such a problem; it’s also why asking the poor and middle class to shoulder the bulk of the nation’s tax burden is a problem. According to the Wall Street Journal’s blog, the expiration of the payroll tax holiday pulled $9 billion out of the economy by sending that money to the government, and caused consumers to cut back on their spending. Retail growth was only 0.1% in January, compared to the 0.7% seen in November and December.