Today we are kicking off the new #MyMoneyStory series with a powerful personal narrative from Femme of FemmeFrugality.com. Hers is an inspiring story of perseverance and moving beyond the life she was dealt.
I started writing about money over five years ago when I was broke, taking a hiatus from my low-paying job to focus on school, and very much pregnant.
At that point, my partner and I were living below the poverty line, but the pregnancy was a wakeup call.
We could not live on the incomes that high school degrees provided us with children, so I got myself back into the halls of scholarship.
I applied for grants and scholarships like my life depended on it. I found out that there is actually a ton of money out there that goes unclaimed. I was able to fund my education and even bring home a little excess to make up for my lack of a paycheck.
I also kicked myself for not knowing this earlier. I stopped going to college traditionally because I wasn’t willing to take on student loans. Because I didn’t have a degree, my earning capability was hindered. That was going to be a massive hit in the long term, even if my net worth was a lot higher than my peers at that specific moment in time. (It’s pretty easy to beat double digit negatives.)
Because they motivated me to get myself back to school, I really consider my children to be a boon to my financial situation rather than a hindrance.
Without my kids, I don’t know that I would have had the motivation that I needed to get myself back in the game and discover all that “free” college money.
Before they arrived, I really didn’t see a way out of my financial situation. I had lost almost all hope of things ever getting better. I was and always had been very responsible with the money I had. I carried no debt aside from a low-interest car loan that was almost paid off.
But I also had no financial safety net in the way of family support and couldn’t find a way to make a higher income. I couldn’t move back home while I went to get a heavily-financed degree—it just wasn’t an option with my family’s situation. I had to work to live, and had trouble affording my already low living expenses, nonetheless tuition.
With my kids, I was forced to hunker down and figure out a way to make it all work.
Five years later, I’m happy to report that our income has grown significantly, making us solidly middle-class. For a while, I worked in the field I studied. Then there was a regional work shortage. As the newest employee, my hours experienced the largest cut.
In my back pocket, I had this hobby called blogging. I pulled in a little bit of money with it, but once I realized our income was going to experience some major growing pains, I went at it full force. I learned a bunch of ways to make my own site better and started contributing to other sites as a freelance writer. This now makes up the bulk of my income, and my old day job has turned into my side hustle.
Over the years, I’ve learned that your mindset and ability to adapt are paramount to improving your financial life.
Whether you’re ushering a new life into the world or facing job loss, life has a way of throwing you curveballs that you just can’t plan for.
Always be cultivating something on the side, whether it’s a skill or hobby or further education. You never know when it will come in handy.
But most importantly, never give up on yourself.
If I had cared about myself as much as I cared about this new lifeform that was growing inside of me, I would have found the programs, grants and scholarships I needed to turn my money situation around a lot sooner.
And if I hadn’t ever got pregnant?
My pocketbook doesn’t want to think about it.