Author Topic: Recently Divorced, Single Working Mom  (Read 2184 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Recently Divorced, Single Working Mom
« on: December 13, 2018, 01:16:43 PM »
Hi Everyone,

This is my first post. I hope there are a few smart folks in here willing to be generous with their time and advice to set me on the right (or better) path. I'm not sure where to start, so I'll jump right in and try to be concise:

I'm trying to figure out what the best course of financial action is for my daughter and I. I'm a 40-year-old, recently divorced, single mom with a 10 year old daughter and split custody. I've been working in social services for a state government for the past five years - not a dream job, but definitely secure.  Post divorce, I'm living with a friend who is letting me save up to get back on my feet, not charging me a dime, and allowing me to stay as long as I need. That said, I don't want to stay there forever, perhaps another 6-12 months.

So, I'm not sure if I should look into saving to buy my own place or rent again. Also, not sure if I should hang onto my new-ish car I bought brand new in 2016 (for $24k)or trade it in before it's worthless for something more reputable/reliable. It's a Kia Optima (current KBB $11k), but I'd like to get a used Toyota truck. I'm open to any and all thoughts! I'm willing to struggle to get myself in a better place!!! Thank you so much for reading. Here are my financials:

Monthly Income:
$2818.00 net - take home
$230.00 - child support

Only Debt:
$5900.00 car loan (snowballing this)

Monthly Expenses:
$375.00 Car Note (Currently paying $2k+ monthly to pay remainder off quickly)
$125.00 Car Insurance (Working on getting dang speeding ticket removed from record to get this lowered)
$350.00 Food
$80.00 Gas for car to commute to school/work
$50.00 Miscellaneous necessities, medication, toiletries, etc.
TOTAL $980.00 + or -

$55k current total accumulation in employer matched pension account - I can't touch this until I'm retired.
$50.00 in Vanguard account with no current contributions.

Savings Account:
$1k (emergency fund)

Checking Account:


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  • Walrus Stache
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Re: Recently Divorced, Single Working Mom
« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2018, 01:42:59 PM »
Hello and welcome to the forum.

Commiserations on the divorce, congratulations on having such an understanding and generous friend to help you get back on your feet.

I'm finding your post a bit unfocused - it's difficult to advise if your goals are so ill defined.  One thing that does stand out is your wanting a Toyota truck.  Why on earth?  Is that a need or just a want?  You are already paying $80 a month on gas, do you really want to double or triple that?  If you want a Toyota for reliability they do smaller cars which would suit you and your daughter fine.

More important than buying an unnecessarily big car is funding your retirement - $55k in your retirement account aged 40 means you have spent a couple of decades not putting enough into your retirement, and need to sort that out.  Do you have any rights to your ex's retirement or social security?

There is advice here on investment order -

Once you have paid off your car loan you will still be able to save $2k a month as long as you are living with your friend, and depending on rent (you are some years away from a house purchase, unless you live where houses are very cheap and a much better deal than renting) should still be able to save a good amount after that.  So your financial situation looks set to improve significantly from now on.


  • Stubble
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Re: Recently Divorced, Single Working Mom
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2018, 01:45:34 PM »
Hi SpaceFlower,

Welcome to the forums!

What do you expect to pay in rent once you move out? What are housing prices like in your area?

What is the interest rate on your car loan? How many miles on your Optima?

Why are you interested in a Toyota truck?

Will you have a monthly pension upon retirement if you stay with your current job or will it be a lump sum similar to a 401K?

Your expenses are pretty low. Not much to change that you didn't already mention (cheaper insurance once the note is paid off). I would shift focus to savings for retirement instead of expediting the car loan IF the interest rate is reasonable.

The biggest area for improvement is your income, but switching jobs/careers may not be an option. Do you have any feedback regarding your job/pay/opportunity for increasing income?


  • Walrus Stache
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Re: Recently Divorced, Single Working Mom
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2018, 01:51:16 PM »
Hey, welcome to the forums.

You have a 6-12 month goal of moving into your own place. You're going to need a plan to get there now.

Figure out how you will pull together a budget for that time, plus contingency and then start working towards that. You want to know in advance that you can cover rent, utilities, child costs (don't see any listed below?) etc on your current income without it causing difficulties.

It may mean your savings potential drops dramatically at that point, which is a bigger incentive to put away a bit more now.


  • Stubble
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Re: Recently Divorced, Single Working Mom
« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2018, 03:02:06 PM »
Your major expenses now are related to transportation so you need to focus on how to eliminate them to free up money for the move-out goal. 
Option 1: Eliminate them.  How necessary is a car for you?  Could you and your child use public transportation, bike, or walk?  If you could do this, you could sell the car and/or possibly reduce insurance and gas expenses.
Option 2:  If you cannot rely on public transit (because America) you need to find a way to get more money while having these transportation expenses.  Not sure whether that's something you can do given your work and family responsibilities.  Maybe you could Uber or Lyft or some variation thereof like where you buy and deliver people's groceries.  It doesn't make much, but I know someone with very low expenses (yours are very low right now with the exception of your transportation ones) who Ubers as her only job and she is able to pay off her new car (which she bough so she could Uber and is her only major expense) doing that.  I'm not sure what the insurance implications would be on that but you could potentially write some of the car expenses off as business expenses then maybe?
You have 2 hard choices: reduce transportation expenses or increase income.  Good luck!


  • Walrus Stache
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Re: Recently Divorced, Single Working Mom
« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2018, 03:18:23 PM »
Since your car will be paid off soon I would keep it and drive it until it dies.  How do rents compare to the cost of housing? Do you have a down payment and money for repairs?


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Re: Recently Divorced, Single Working Mom
« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2018, 03:28:35 PM »
Pete wrote an article on the main blog about driving for Uber. It doesn't sound like it is worth it. If you don't mind doing a few surveys, prolific is probably the best paid survey site.

If you need a vehicle, I would keep the car. It should last you at least a decade. If you get a used truck, you are trading a known for an unknown and getting worse fuel economy. 11k probably can't get you anything better than you have. If you bought something cheaper, it will probably have a lot more miles and need more maintenance. The last thing you want to deal with when you only have a 1k cash buffer is tireds, timing belt, etc.

Good job paying off the car loan.

 Do you have an have the option for an HSA? That could save you a good amount in FICA taxes.


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Re: Recently Divorced, Single Working Mom
« Reply #7 on: December 14, 2018, 08:22:34 AM »
Welcome to the forums!

If you have no cash reserves other than the 5k, Id build those up first before investing elsewhere. Once you pay off the car loan, get your savings account up to 5k or so, to make sure you can handle the transition to your own aprtment from a position of strength.

Plan for the future by designing the next phase so you can save/invest 50% of your after tax pay if possible. If you add rent and utilities to your current budget, what would your savings rate be?

Remember to include estimates for car repairs and vehicle depreciation/replacement. The car advice is popping up because you will need some improvement in that area over time. But go step by step, you can do this.

Aditional details on retirement plan (pension vs defined contribution, etc) would be helpful.


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Re: Recently Divorced, Single Working Mom
« Reply #8 on: December 14, 2018, 09:57:32 AM »
Welcome to the forum! Another single mom here.  I hope you enjoy the next 8 years before your daughter likely moves out as much as I enjoyed my daughter in those years.  Time will fly by.  Before you know it your daughter will be learning to drive.  At a teen driver program at a local high school here the expert said the most dangerous vehicle for a teen driver is a truck...apparently they flip most easily.  Id stick with the car you have, but then I have a 14 year old sedan that I love.

I have been a home owner and a renter.  I am FI so I can afford to do either.  As a single parent I much preferred the time I rented to the time I owned because I had more time to do things other than home and yard maintenance.  Your situation is different with shared custody, but still try to avoid feeling the societal peer pressure that led me to buy a house when my daughter was in 6th grade.  I found that the best rental came after I lived in the neighborhood I liked for a year.  I was renting a house and the owner decided to give it to his daughter.  When I mentioned it to a neighbor, it turned out they had bought the house next door thinking they might need it for elderly parents.  I rented it for several years.  It was great!  I should never have moved out!  With working full time, driving carpools, dealing with middle school/ high school angst and occasionally homework, I did not have that much free time.  When I did, I wanted to enjoy it.  It allowed for more adventures.  I took a job overseas for 6 months (still paid rent but the neighbor/owners took care of everything). We frequently traveled on the weekends, spent Saturday mornings doing things like ice skating instead of yard work.  And as many people in Nevada  know all too well, homes do not always appreciate.

Best of luck to you!


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: Recently Divorced, Single Working Mom
« Reply #9 on: December 16, 2018, 04:27:01 PM »
I get the idea of paying the car off before you move out, BUT I think you should be putting more money into your emergency fund first.

It's great that you have a friend who is helping you out, but things could change. What if said friend got sick and died, or hit by a truck, or just decided they were done helping? You want to save up enough cash for first months rent and any deposits needed to rent a place (look into whether places in your area ask for first and last months rent.) ideally you want that much plus 3 months living expenses saved up. Then if your friend is still willing to house you, you could pay off your car. Otherwise at least you have savings for a buffer while you try to pay rent and car payment.

As for increasing your income - once you move into your own place you might consider babysitting evenings or weekends for extra cash.