I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Debra Jacobs, a fellow single mom by choice and a financial coach. The question I get asked more than most is “how do I know if I can afford to be a single mom by choice? So, that’s exactly what Debra and I talked about. There’s no magic bullet, but here are my top 4 takeaways about how to thrive financially as a single mom by choice from our conversation!
1) Once you’ve decided that becoming a single mom by choice is what you want to do more than anything else in the world, then you get creative and then you figure out a way to financially afford it.
Debra spent years trying to decide if she should have a baby on her own. “And I finally made that decision. Once I made the decision, I like to say the universe opened up, everything fell into place. I figured out the money. I figured out the childcare. I figured out how to do it.
“But I think it’s a little bit more than the universe opening up, because what happens when you make that decision is that you open up the universe, you make it happen once you’ve made that decision, your actions follow. I’ve made the decision. Now the question is, how do I make it work?
“If your heart and soul is pulling you towards motherhood, then you will make the universe open up to make it happen. And you will take care of the logistics. There are so many out of the box and creative ways of making it happen.
2) You need to believe you are enough. That confidence will cause you to make decisions that will bring more money.
“ I’m here to tell you you’re enough. Yes, our kids need a village. Yes. It’s really great for them to have male role models in their lives and people that they can trust and count on. But going into motherhood with a feeling of this is second best, or I don’t think I can provide for my child, everything they need….It’s not true.
“When you look at single mothers by choice and children who grow up in homes with single mothers by choice, they’re doing fine, you know, they’re doing great.
So the first mindset shift is one from, I don’t know if this is the right thing to to do, I don’t know if I can do this well can shift into : I’m enough. And, and I can do that well. The money follows that. If you’re feeling like you’re enough and you’re, you can do this well, then your decisions about money will be based on that sense of confidence.
3) As a single mom by choice, you might have to make some financial choices that are outside the normal advice.
“This path is different from what we think of as the norm. So any financial advisor or coach is going to tell you live on as little as you can save as much money as you can. Invest early and often, because time in the market is going to grow your money. And, use tax advantage to counts to your advantage, IRAs and 401ks, max them out. That is all great advice.
“However, if you’re a single mom and your path is a little bit different and you really want to have a flexible lifestyle so that you can spend more time with your kids, you might have to forego some of those things for a little while.
So maybe you’re not maxing out your IRA or your 401k, and you are income has gone down a little bit so that you can have those years together because those years of precious and you’ll never get them back. And when you’re building your relationship with your child ( I’m not saying be a stay at home mom, unless you can figure out how to do that) that flexibility might cause you to not follow the advice that you would typically get from financial advisors.
“You have to think out the side of the box and not always follow the really typical financial advice.”
4) The only limit to the solutions you can come up with is your own creativity.
Being a single mom requires many of us to think outside the box, have creative solutions and back up plans. If you’re creative and willing to be scrappy, you can usually make it work.
“if you can really think outside of the box, there’s always a way to do it. If you, if this is what you really, really want.”
You might have to work on asking for support, enacting your back up plans, but if you can drop the expectation of what you think it’s supposed to look like and get creative there is likely a solution.
This is just a tidbit of our conversation. Listen to the whole interview on IGTV. ”
And, if you like interviews like this, imagine getting to be live during this interview so you can ask your own questions. As well as having different guest experts each month on relevant topics.
Join the Motherhood Reimagined SMC Community with live guest expert interviews, a vibrant community forum with the ability to follow topics, and find others in your area or stage of the journey. I’m so excited to create this powerful resource for you!
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Why Plan C? Well, motherhood rarely comes the way we hoped or expected. Sometimes we have to move well beyond our original vision. In my case, Plan B was to become a single mother by choice, using an anonymous sperm donor. I ended up at what I affectionately call Plan C because I needed to use an egg donor as well.
Even if your plans didn't work out as we expected (psst, it never really does), don't let it stop you from embracing your unique path.
So that we can get to know each other better , I want to share my story with you and why it put me on a mission to help women all over the world do whatever it takes to become a mother--if they decide that’s what they want.
As a child, I was obsessed with babies. If anyone asked me if I wanted kids when I grew up, I would exuberantly respond that I wanted eleven babies (I know, right? Eleven??) I distinctly remember stalking a pregnant mother in my neighborhood, asking if I could care for her child once it was born. She obliged and I spent every day after school at her house. You could basically say that loving babies and kids was my hobby.
But somewhere along the way, I lost my conviction and clarity. I went to college and law school, graduated at the top of my class, and got a job at a prestigious law firm during the dot-com boom in Silicon Valley. I was focused on my career and worked insane hours. Dating, however, was not my best skill, and I wasn’t taking any intentional steps to find "the one." When people asked me if I wanted kids, I would always say, "I don’t know. It’s a decision I want to make together with my partner once I find him."
In contrast, most of my friends who wanted babies were deliberate and intentional about their dating efforts. They spent time on dating sites, went out specifically to meet men, even hired matchmakers. Soon, they moved on to marriage and began having kids.
But I just never found him.
However, I was fast approaching 40 and there was still no partner in sight.
As I faced the closing of my fertility window, I realized I needed to think about whether or not I truly wanted children ... with or without someone to co-parent with. I wasn't panicked though. Friends all around me were having babies in their late 30s and 40s. My own mother had me when she was 39. I thought that, if anything, my generation had proven that having a baby later in life is possible and, in some ways, more desirable.
It took me over a year of contemplation to decide to take the leap into solo motherhood. As much as I loved children, I wasn’t certain that I was ready to give up my freedom and life of spontaneity.
Who would I be if I couldn’t travel the world, go see various spiritual teachers on a whim, stay out late dancing, and sample all the best restaurants and music festivals?
The flip side started to seep in too though: Would life get boring for me if I only had to focus on myself? At some point would I get bored of travel, retreats and dancing?
Already, the last few times I had traveled somewhere exotic, it didn't have the same allure. The intense drive of my spontaneous life was fading. Something else was calling me. I was looking for something ... more.
And then one day, my teacher said to me, "Have you noticed that you cry every time you talk about not having a baby?"
It was true! And that was a startling realization. But, as I considered the idea of solo mothering, I just kept thinking: This isn't the way I thought my life would unfold! I had to mourn the life I thought I was meant to have and re-imagine the remainder of my life unfolding an entirely new way.
My greatest fear was — Would I be alone forever if I have a baby by myself? Who would want to date a single mom?
I was also deeply concerned about financial stability.
How would I manage alone — financially, emotionally, logistically? What if I lost my job? Or couldn’t work again due to physical pain?
My teacher reminded me that nothing in life is ever certain.
People who find the love of their life end up divorced, cheated on, and even widowed. Happy couples remain childless due to infertility. No one's "dream life" is promised to them. And, everyone's job safety is impossible to predict.
I could freak out about having a baby alone and miss my chance at becoming a mother, or I could lean into the uncertainty and let the rest of my life unfold as it was meant to. Having a child alone did not necessarily mean I’d never meet a life partner. It might mean delaying the partner for several years, or it might mean that being pregnant would make me feel amazing and sexy and call in the partner I’d always dreamed about. It was truly impossible to predict.
Then, one day in meditation, I had a vision of a little girl in a frilly, pink dress riding on a swing on a glorious spring day. In that moment, I knew — I wanted to become a mother more than anything. All of my indecision vanished in an instant! I was ready.
I wanted to be of service in some way, and I realized I wanted to be of service to a child. (Of course, at the time, I had NO idea just how much surrender and sacrifice motherhood would entail!)
I researched the logistics and started trying to conceive a child alone with the use of an Identity-Release donor (which is an amazing process, by the way, but that's a story for another day).
But then, my OB/GYN informed me that if I wanted to have a baby, I’d likely have to use an egg donor. WHAT? This was definitely not part of the plan!
I refused to listen and instead spent a year trying to get pregnant with my own eggs (I won’t even start trying to explain the lengths I went to on that front) I finally accepted that I'd need to use both a sperm and an egg donor.
I finally came to terms with having a baby via egg donation and I have no regrets.
On April 3, 2014 my son was born. Happily. Gloriously. A beautiful, healthy, amazing son. And, I can’t imagine a more perfect union. I have no doubt I got the child I was meant to have.
Motherhood is about love, plain and simple ... no matter how complicated the journey is getting there.
You can read my whole story in my new book: Motherhood Reimagined: When Becoming A Mother Doesn’t Go As Planned: A Memoir. It’s due out Oct. 17th but you can pre-order your copy now.
All My Best,