How She Does It: A Business-Owning, Single Mom Earning $165K a Year Breaks Down Her Monthly Budget

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how she does it on a budget series
Wild Sky Media

In an effort to help moms take a closer look at their finances, we reached out to mothers across the country and asked them to analyze their budgets. Each month, we'll have one mom anonymously tell us her marital status, annual income, and about how much money her family has to work with each month. Whether the spotlight is on a mom who splits the bills with a partner or a single mama making it work on her own, we want to give readers an inside peek into how they're making it work. Then, as an added bonus, a financial advisor (who is also a mother herself) will weigh in with major takeaways and a bit of advice all moms can benefit from. 

  • When it comes to hustling, this single, 38-year-old African-American mother of two from Kansas City, Missouri, could put us all to shame. 

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    A true entrepreneur, this month's mama is the proud owner of three businesses, which includes work in real estate. Collectively, all of her businesses allow her to earn up to $165,000 a year, which gives her about a $13,000 monthly budget to work with. As a mom of a teen boy and preteen girl, her impressive yearly earnings go toward running and funding her busy household. 

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  • While there is no doubt this mama is killing it in business, she acknowledges she has some work to do in her budgeting. 

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    "I wish I could change what I now know about financial literacy," she confessed to CafeMom. "And I am shocked about how much I spend on car expenses and food."

    Her biggest expense by far, even bigger than her monthly mortgage ($1,350), is the roughly $1,800 she racks up on food for the household. She revealed that she spends roughly $50-$60 a day on eating out, and the expenses add up quickly.  
    The mom also acknowledged that she has a tendency to overspend.  "I honestly do not cut costs as much as I should," she admitted. She tends to spend upwards of $275 each month on entertainment, which includes everything from going out with the family to "date-night" expenses. She also spends anywhere from $100-$300 per month on activities for her kids. Her additional $300 monthly expense typically goes toward her hair -- but luckily she doesn't need to pay down student debt or budget for childcare/tuition.  
    Above all, she worries that one day it will all disappear. "My biggest financial fear is falling off -- losing everything I have." 
  • Single mom and financial advisor Nicole Middendorf knows where she is coming from. 

    "I don’t know that I have met a woman that doesn’t have a fear of being a bag lady (no matter if they have $10,000 to their name or $1 million to their name), which is her fear of 'falling off,'" she told CafeMom.

    But overall, while this month's mom is doing well for herself, Middendorf still sees a few areas in which she can improve. 

    "For one, pay off the credit card debt. Credit card debt is bad debt. You want to get that gone. There is no way to get ahead if you carry a balance on a credit card that is charging you interest (most charge 10%, 17% or even more). If you have credit card debt, you are living beyond your means or something happened (medical issue, job loss, etc). So pay off the credit cards. Take them and put them in a glass of water, and put them in the freezer! (Yes! If you HAVE to use one they will still work after they thaw out!)."

    Speaking of paying things off, Middendorf also noted that her car payment is another big thing she should tackle. "Lower the car payment. $800 is too much to spend on a car if you are not maxing out your retirement plan, have six to 12 months of income set aside in liquid funds, and if you have credit card debt. Sell the car? Pay off the car? Buy something that you can afford."

  • But her biggest piece of advice is for this entrepreneurial mom to invest in herself. 

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    "Max out your retirement plans. Being a business owner or realtor or someone with 1099 income, you can have a SEP IRA. This allows you to put up to 25 percent of your net income away and that is deductible for you come tax time. Then there is the Roth IRA. This is a must!"

    Middendorf also added that when you take out money from the Roth IRA in retirement, you don't pay taxes on it.

    Because the truth is, working for yourself means taking care of yourself. "Money owed on credit cards doesn’t help you. A car is a depreciating asset. You got this! We should always have a positive attitude about money. For what we think about, we bring about!"

    And that's how she does it on a budget.

    For more helpful tips from our financial advisor, pick up a copy of her book "The Million Dollar Question" here.