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Naked With Cash: LastDollar

This article was written by in Naked With Cash. 7 comments.


In January, Consumerism Commentary will begin the Naked With Cash event and series. Several Consumerism Commentary readers will share their financial reports and analyses at the beginning of each month, with insight from financial planners and other experts. To introduce each of the participants to readers, I asked them to share where they’ve been, where they are, and where they’re going, and to describe their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Meet Naked With Cash participant LastDollar. LastDollar is a 33-year-old entrepreneur. Here is her introduction.

I have been a single mom of two boys since 2007. The kids are currently elementary school age and due to learning differences, are in a private school that I pay tuition for. Public school did not work out and homeschooling is not an option because of my need to work to earn an income.

I’ve been self-employed for 10 years and have always gotten by and our needs have always been met, but not without several periods of really difficult financial times. We had about a year where we were just slightly ahead of living paycheck-to-paycheck, but income dropped unexpectedly, and as soon as we started falling behind on bills things quickly spiraled out of control.

I recently added a part time job at a radio station, but that requires I pay a babysitter and commuting expenses, so it is yet to be seen if it will make any difference financially.

I can cut back on all unnecessary spending when necessary and for long periods of time to help funnel more money toward debt repayments and living expenses. I’ve done it before and can do it again -– so I feel like this is a strength of mine since many people refuse to make those decisions even when they are struggling financially.

My financial weakness is the variable income I earn –- my business income tends to fluctuate and the income doesn’t always come in on the same day. Financial threats are eventually being unable to keep up with our living expenses (school tuition for two boys in a private school, our home mortgage and maintenance expenses, utilities, debt repayment). Also, I never seem to plan adequately for taxes and end up with a big tax bill when I file.

I own and operate an online freelance/contract type business on a few different websites online, which means I find clients that pay me to provide a service. I often struggle with having more work than I can reasonably do in the time frame, and have a business partner and several others working for me (as contract workers) to ensure all deadlines are met. There is no retirement or health insurance with this business.

I’m passionate about being a great mom to my boys and meeting their needs, which are a bit different from your “typical” kid. There are all kinds of financial needs as a single parent homeowner. I would also like to have more time to spend with them when I’m not also trying to juggle client work on the laptop at the kitchen table.

My long term goals are to reduce or eliminate debts and focus on passive income earning opportunities that don’t require a direct trade of my time to earn money long term.

As a single mom, I really don’t have all that much support from the other parent when it comes to raising the kids or actively participating in their lives. My family lives close, but they’re also not overly accommodating when it comes to needing a babysitter or some help once in a while and I’ve gotten to the point that I won’t ask unless it’s an absolute emergency because it is so uncomfortable when they make up excuses for why they can’t help out! So it’s just a constant battle between having enough time to work and earn the money we need to survive (and one day, thrive!) and also have the time to spend with my growing boys.

I’ve read Consumerism Commentary off and on for several years, but I bounce all over the place when I’m online!

Welcome LastDollar! Thank you for participating the Naked With Cash!

Updated December 27, 2012 and originally published December 22, 2012. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Cherleen @ My Personal Finance Journey

“My family lives close, but they’re also not overly accommodating when it comes to needing a babysitter or some help once in a while and I’ve gotten to the point that I won’t ask unless it’s an absolute emergency because it is so uncomfortable when they make up excuses for why they can’t help out!”

I understand how you feel. My husband and I used to live across my relatives, but we cannot ask them to look after my children, even during emergency situations. This prompted us to move out of the old house and live on the other side of town where we found a community who gave us the support we were seeking find from our relatives. I am sure you will soon get over your financial struggles.

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avatar LastDollar

Thanks for the comment, Cherleen. I’m interested in the community support you’ve found! Was it through your church or another organization- or did you just become close with your neighbors?

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avatar moneymatters ♦357 (Nickel)

Sounds like you’ve got an interesting situation that you’re having to deal with – and a tough budgeting situation when dealing with an irregular income. I feel for your situation as far as having some special needs and paying for private school – which isn’t cheap. We’re currently looking into private schools for our son in a year or two, and it is expensive!

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avatar LastDollar

Thanks for the comment. The private school was really generous with me and has give me 50% off basically (so I pay for one child and the other is tuition free) in exchange for updating their website and blog all year. Even WITH the tuition assistance I’m paying $731 per month tuition.

It was probably the hardest decision because I know it’s living above my means, but our public school absolutely was not working for them. For me, it was either spend the money on lawyers hoping I would win the case (and who knows how long or how many court dates and missed work time it would take!) or put the money toward a school that can meet their needs.

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avatar Neal

Last Dollar,

I am inspired by your story, strength and determination. It sounds to me like you are willing to make the hard choices too. All unique qualifies and wonderful gifts you are giving to your children.

It sounds like you are on top of the challenges. So the only question is – is it likely that your work situation will improve or stabilize? What are your options here? How much under-water are you (at times)? Long-term, would it be better to continue building your business or not?

These are tough questions of course but it seems like you are already cutting back everything you can. If you have great potential with the business, you should probably stick with it but you have to be realistic. Also, what are the alternatives? Do they exist?

I guess I need more information but if indeed you’ve cut back on spending, the only option is income. I’d like to know more about that side of things.

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avatar LastDollar

Thank you, Neal!

I make more with my business each year than I could through any outside employment I could find. Even when the numbers are “low” for a month or two, I’m better off than if I was working someplace that required full time babysitting. I’m going to put together some income statements so you can get a better idea, but whenever things get tough with the business I do consider finding employment and I always discover this: babysitters and after school programs and summer camps/babysitting will cost as much as I make or more. I really don’t know how parents work outside the home and profit, once you take into consideration daycare, commuting, and all the days they don’t have school (and you have to pay for additional hours for daycare!) On top of that, I can’t just pick “any” babysitter because of my children’s needs – not everyone can handle their differences.

So – to answer your question, I really don’t think alternatives exist for me as far as employment goes, and it’s more about increasing the income the business earns without increasing the time I spend on it (since I don’t have much more time, either!)

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avatar Neal

I get it. Let’s focus on making the most income given you are at home and filter the alternatives that way. It may include expanding your business – or it may mean looking for other options. Lets at least think of it this way. Fair enough?

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