“Single and Head of Household, Ready Or Not”

By: Denise Albert

Years ago, the thought of being an “independent” mom might have scared me. I’ve always been an independent person, but not financially. Now that I’ve been separated and divorced for almost 3 years, my independence has never felt better.

I have injected a new sense of freedom into my life that was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. Every day, I took a measure of joy in simple activities that I had previously taken for granted: grocery shopping, filling up the car, helping my kids with their homework. Odd as it may sound, I found these little moments exhilarating, because I was finally doing them entirely on my own terms.

But my new single-hood also introduced me to some hard truths about post-marriage life. As I’ve written elsewhere, among these were my realization about the importance of never ceding control over your financial life to another person, and having my eyes opened to the bias and discrimination that divorced women can face simply because they are divorced.

I realized I had to face my fears head on and decided to tackle something that I wasn’t totally comfortable managing – money.

The banking industry has probably never seen a grown woman so excited about opening a checking account, but that mundane act represented a new world of freedom and control for me. In fact, I liked it so much, I opened accounts for my children so they could learn the importance of financial control right from the start. Websites like MyInforms can help people get a handle on their finances and better understand the more confusing aspects of staying on top of your money.

I also applied for a new credit card of my own– and as happy as the checking account made me, the credit card felt even better, both on a spiritual level, but also on a practical one. As there are so many credit cards to choose from, you’ll need to actually take into consideration aspects like the annual percentage rate, fees and even cashback. From cards like Remember Mastercard to store credit cards, be sure to know what you are getting yourself in for before committing to anything.

This time around was more of a success than it had been when I initially tried applying for a credit card. As I was having financial difficulties and had a bad credit score, I wasn’t sure how to go about it all. But once I found out I could apply for a credit card or even get a loan without using a guarantor, I felt like there was a way around all these financial worries that I once had. It is important to understand that whatever you’re going through, there is pretty much always a solution and it will get easier in the end. Because another truth I realized is that no one is busier than a newly-single mom, and the card I got an American Express Credit Card) made a lot of the little things I had to do every day easier to juggle and easier to track.

So where I had previously ignored my mother’s warnings to stay on top of my finances, I now listened. Not only that, but I started to heed another one of her favorite pieces of advice: charge EVERYTHING. Because since you’re going to be spending the money anyway, you might as well rack up points and rewards along the way.

So I did. But I added my own dimension to my mom’s advice. I accumulated points with a goal in mind: to furnish my kids’ rooms in my new apartment solely by using points.

Was it easy? No. In fact, it was just the opposite. But by sticking with my plan, and overcoming much of that aforementioned bias, I am here today, working in an apartment that I rent. And I’m right down the hall from my kids’ rooms, which are tricked out with Pottery Barn’s greatest hits, thanks to my mom’s advice, my own efforts, and the excellent American Express Membership Rewards.

Some things about my previous life were easier, sure, but the price was too high. I’ve learned a lot since then, especially when it comes to money, which I will never look at the same way again. Every charge that the new me makes is thoughtful and meaningful. Every thing I buy, I’m proud to pay the bill. Every dollar I make, I spend or save exactly how I want to.

For me, there’s nothing better than these every day, single MOMents for me.

I was selected by American Express to help educate consumers about the Amex EveryDay Credit Card. As such, I was paid for my services, but tips and opinions shared about and American Express and the Amex EveryDay Credit Card are my own.

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