We don’t think about the strength of a single parent very often. They work, care for, and sustain their family in ways that a two-person family can’t understand, and certainly wouldn’t envy, even if it’s a conscious choice. Grace Simons (*not her real name) has a son, Jeff, and works 4 part-time jobs to take care of them. Rent, child care, gas, debt repayment and food are the bare minimums Grace pays every month. She is exhausted trying to keep up with the debt repayment and it never seems to make a dent in what she owes. Everyday Grace reminds herself that she does it all for Jeff, for a better life for them both, but it isn’t the single life in the city she pictured as a child.
As a little girl, Grace wanted to be a lawyer. She dreamed of being in a courtroom, making a difference. Now she doesn’t see how that could ever be possible. She loves her son, but life is difficult with just the two of them. Grace doesn’t have a set schedule at any of her jobs, she works when she can, where she can and often goes weeks where her hours don’t meet their needs. Her son is old enough to go to school, but Grace has to pay to keep him in before & after child care, in case she picks up a shift. Some days she doesn’t have any food for herself and only Jeff eats. In those weeks she leans on her credit cards, which has led her to a mountain of debt.
Grace remembers having birthday parties and books and presents as a little girl. She didn’t have to worry about where the food came from, or whether her parents would get to eat too. Grace tries to give her son everything, to provide for him the way she was as a child, but she can’t. The school requests cash for field trips, hot lunch programs, and fundraising. A donation paid for her son to receive hot lunches at school, but opportunities like hockey and soccer, or extras like video games and books to read are all more than Grace can afford. Luckily the public library offers free memberships, and access to computers. Grace has managed to keep them fed, housed, and clothed by sheer ingenuity—and credit—and prays for an easier life. A life where money isn’t a struggle and she doesn’t need a credit card to pay their bills.
A friend of Grace’s referred her to 4 Pillars for a consultation. Pradeep and his team were able to work with Grace’s budget and reduce her debts to more manageable payment terms. Because of these changes, Grace is able to put money aside for Jeff’s education every month.