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Q: I am a 31-year-old, newly divorced mother of four. I have an income of $2,046.56 a month, but I still come up short on my bills. My credit score is only 577. I am a full-time college student in addition to working full time. I feel trapped and bogged down financially. What do you recommend for a struggling mother trying to come out of debt and support her children better?
–Y. Armstrong,. Via the Internet
A: You’re pursuing a college education and trying to improve your financial situation. You deserve a lot of credit for having the courage to make positive changes in your life.
Yet, you have to be serious about saving money. Most people say that they’ve tried everything, but usually that’s not true. Do you eat lunch out every day? You can save between $110 and $155 a month by bringing your lunch from home. Do you have cable? Turn it off. Put the cable money toward your savings. Are you a smoker? Maybe you are too addicted to quit cold turkey, but cutting back by just two packs a week could give you an extra $60 a month or more to put toward your savings.
You must learn to say “no” to yourself and your kids. Remind them (and yourself) that owning a home and having money in the bank are more important than having the latest warm-ups or getting your nails done. You can get other ideas to help you save money from a Website called Cheapskate Monthly (www.cheapskatemonthly.com). Also, get and read 7 Money Mantras for a Richer Life: How to Live Well with the Money You Have by Michelle Singletary (Random House; $24.95).