Not long into single motherhood, I moved back to California to be closer to my family. I'd left home a decade earlier, at age 18, and never looked back -- until then.
In New York, I was a researcher at Time Inc.'s high-rise in midtown Manhattan. Just before my 30th birthday, I was back under my father's roof, in his highrise. With my adorable toddler.
My father has always been there for me both emotionally and financially. Neither has been easy. He's not very good with boundaries; neither am I. He can be dramatic and impatient; so can I.
When I first landed on my dad's doorstep, I didn't have a job. I didn't have a home. I had a little, chatty 2-year-old in diapers. Sure, I had my intelligence and perseverance, but my dad was very generous as I pounded the pavement in search of work.
Most of us, single parents or not, have experienced some kind of crisis that put us in the hole. Maybe it was a family illness, followed by outrageous hospital bills. Maybe it was a spouse losing his job, just after you'd purchased a new home with a hefty mortgage.
Today, many of us are nervous about the shifty economy. My flow of textbook editing and writing work has slowed down recently. I'm pinching pennies for sure. This summer, I'll probably do away with cable altogether. (Yes, losing the Disney Channel sent my kid into a frenzy -- and my lecture about the recession did not help matters.) My kid only wears hand-me-downs, and I purchase cheap clothes (i.e. at Ross) or second-hand. We don't eat out, unless it's from the taqueria or pizza slices. I share Internet service with my apartment neighbors (legal? We both pay!). I walk whenever possible and my daughter bikes to school (saves on gas).
In financially stressful times, how do you get by? Have you leaned on family members for help? Gotten a second job? Taken out a loan? Are you being more careful about spending right now? Are you ordering a small coffee, instead of a latte? Or, maybe you're forgoing take-out coffee altogether?