Raw Money: A Single Mom Gets Real About Living in the Bay Area

In this series, we ask respondents from all walks of life the same set of raw money questions

Raw Money HipLatina BayArea

Photo: Courtesy of Hip Latina

In this series, we ask respondents from all walks of life the same set of raw money questions. The answers reveal intimate details of their financial lives, and for that reason some of our respondents have chosen to remain anonymous. These interviews will vary in length and detail, depending on the answers we receive.

Talking about money is one of the longest held taboo subjects in our culture. With this weekly series, we open people’s wallets (and with them fears, hopes, and closely held beliefs). We don’t approach this with a certain outcome in mind—we just want to open doors and find out if money is taboo for good reason, or if continued quiet is keeping us all down. We hope you’ll join us in considering this question: Is it time to reimagine polite society?

To participate in this series, please email us at HLContributor@gmail.com

From Darcy: Age 55

Location: Petaluma, California

HipLatina: How do you make your living?

Darcy: I work for myself as a bookkeeper.

HL: How worried are you about money? 

D: I have a small amount of money remaining from my divorce and the sale of my house. Being a single mother on my own has never allowed me to save. When I think about money today I think about how I will spend half of it in the next 12 months renting a house in town for the same amount as my mortgage used to be. I realize that I need an exit plan — I will not live on the streets. That is where my mind goes when I think about money.

HL: How do you spend your money? How would you describe your level of debt?

D: I was over $20,000 in debt with medical bills by the time my son was five years old. I have always worked, never been unemployed, yet never made enough to get ahead. Just pay a debt before I earned a new one. I have never counted coupons. When I eat out I order what I want and enjoy it. I work to pay for it as I always have.

HL: How would you describe your credit score it’s affect on your life (for good or for bad)?

D: I am grateful to say my credit score is good and has been for many years. That happens when you have a lot of credit and pay that credit off or down all the time; it makes you a good bet. I have never been declined for credit that I remember. My first credit card was from Mervyn’s and shame on them for giving a 15-year-old a credit card, but it did me the best service. I couldn’t pay for it all on time, and I learned early how that felt.

HL: What regrets do you have about money?

D: I wish I would not have sold all my stock so fast! My biggest financial regret was adding my ex to my checking account! I have always been responsible for my own account and my ex begged me to let us share an account. She claimed it was important to her because it meant she was all in! She said she needed to make that commitment, but all that happened was I allowed her to step away from any responsibility around money for nine years! We bought a house together, yet she never had any financial responsibility around it — it all fell to me. Do not ever do this. Love does not belong in your checking account! I ended up putting $250,000 more into that relationship than my partner and she never had to worry about it.

HL: How did you teach your children about money management?

D: I unfortunately taught my child nothing right around money. I gave him too much to make up for the missing dad and the busy working mom. Lord, I would do it differently in another time and space. But now we are set up in such a way the old core values are being lost. My son earns his living in a room on a video game. It freaks me the hell out! I have a large life insurance policy. I have always hoped I would die in an accident—then it will double! No way that insurance policy will be worth it unless I die. I mostly have it because the idea of giving my son a shit load of money for nothing but missing his mother is how I think. It could be a bad thing, but maybe it can give a hand up to help him.

HL: How do you make social decisions with friends who have different incomes?

D: Vacations are for another [socio-economic] class these days — I never make such plans. Since my divorce I lost a lot of friends and am isolated in a cottage in someone else’s back yard. I do not have anyone to watch the dog so I stay home. I kind of lost myself, but when I do eat out we all chip in, or we eat in our own kitchens together around the table.

HL: How does your financial life differ from others such as friends, family, or neighbors?

D: In my family, I am the one that didn’t get invited to things that cost money, so much happened without us because we couldn’t do what everyone else could. Others were two income families, but that is just part of the reason. Most of my friends struggle with money, except the one whose husband is among one of the highest paid CEOs around. She has changed — the only statement she made in regard to the election was she “was tired of paying taxes and didn’t want to pay so much!” I could not reply, we let it slide, and she disappeared.

HL: If you had more money, what would you do with it?

D: I would secure a home for myself and the dog, then I would help my son find a forever place. Then I would give away money — I would share and share and share! I would feed all the families that seek help at the local shelter. I would do everything I could to stop the oil pipelines. I would empower others to do good work and support one another. One of the best experiences I have ever had was giving money away — freely giving money away is amazing!

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