By: Julie Morris
Over the past couple of decades, one of the biggest areas of growth in the home buying sector is among single women. Not only are more than 20% of all home buyers single women, but since the mid-90s more than one-third of the growth in real estate ownership is among single women. If you’re a single woman looking to purchase a home, here are some essential tips you should know.
Shop around for financing
According to a recent study, women are more likely than men to receive a subprime mortgage. The takeaway was that women, faced with stereotypes about not really understanding the whole home buying process, simply aren’t offered some of the better loan options that lenders have. It’s an unfortunate finding, but one that many women who have faced discrimination would not have a hard time believing.
That’s why it’s vital that you shop around for your financing. Review as many options as you can before making a decision. Don’t just accept the first offer that comes your way.
Know what you can afford and beware of “hidden” costs
You may get pre-approved for a home loan that will leave you struggling to make the payments month-to-month. Just because you can afford something, it doesn’t mean you should. Don’t push your limits. A good rule of thumb for determining how much you should spend on a house is to take your annual income and multiply it by three. That’s your low end. Now multiply it by four. That’s your high end. To get a more exact estimate, use an online home affordability calculator, such as this one.
Think about your monthly income, post-tax. You should probably limit yourself to about one-quarter of that when you think about the monthly mortgage payment you can reasonably afford. Why only one-quarter? Well, for starters, because you may have other fixed debt payments already (credit card debt, student loans, etc.) Not only that, but owning a home is way more expensive than just the mortgage payment. “Hidden” costs that can trip up home buyers include homeowners insurance costs, taxes, and repair costs.
When you finally move, consider hiring some help
So you’ve found a house that’s priced within your means, secured solid financing (that you’ve carefully picked from many different offers), and now you’re ready to move out. Should you try to do it all yourself?
You should certainly do the packing yourself. Not only will this give you the opportunity to organize and possibly do some downsizing as you go, but it will save you money in the long run. When it comes to the actual move, however, there are many advantages to hiring moving help. The most obvious advantage is that it saves you the trouble of lifting and finding transport for your bulky, awkward, and heavy items. Not only that, but movers can usually get a job done in a fraction of the time it would take you.
There are some other benefits, too. If you are newly single and moving out of a house or apartment you shared with your partner, movers can put a buffer between you and your ex. It’s nice to be able to hire movers to do a job, and make a clean break from your old life so you can immediately begin to start fresh with you new life, in a new house.
As a single woman, there are many benefits of buying your own home. For one, it’s a great way to make a fresh start. It’s also smart to begin to build equity in something, as opposed to renting. As a woman, however, it’s important to know that you may be treated differently during the loan shopping and even home buying process. If you know this going in, you can better spot those who may underestimate you.
Photo Credit: Pixabay.com
We are Thankful for our Community!This year we have so much to be thankful for at AMHH. Our donors that help support our mission, volunteers
that give their time, our moms, their children
and all of you!
October is here! The kids are back in school, and Halloween is just around the corner. For many kids, that means dressing up in costumes for trick-or-treating, or for school parties. But for moms, especially those on a tight budget, the thought of buying or making costumes can be a little stressful. Here's some helpful tips!
Costumes, candy, decorations—they all add to the fun, but can put a dent in the budget. Many single moms have to watch every penny, and budget wisely. But with a little imagination, a quick browse on Pinterest, and a trip to the thrift store, they can put together a fun costume for cheap.
Here’s a list of ideas and websites where you can find inexpensive and clever costumes that can be made with household items or things you can easily pick up at a thrift store.
Thrift store costumes don’t need to be elaborate. Sometimes the simplest ideas are the smartest.
Pinterest has pages and pages of ideas. Check out this page for example. While Pinterest can be overwhelming, narrow your search with keywords like DIY, budget, kids, toddlers, etc. Or search for specific characters by name.
We especially liked this “Minion” costume made with a bright yellow hoodie, denim overalls and oversize glasses
Design Dazzle, a fun crafting blog, has a list of do it yourself toddler costumes that even busy moms can easily put together.
(Our favorite on that list is a super-simple Peter Pan costume, which came originally from Babble, a Disney blog. Find instructions here. )
Pretty My Party, a party planning blog, had this super-cute costume idea for little ones:
BuzzFeed offered 51 cheap and easy costumes, including a brilliant Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costume made by spray-painting an aluminum roasting pan.
One of our favorite thrift stores, Savers, which has a store in Hoffman Estates, offers these ideas for DIY costumes for kids. (We especially liked the Garden Gnome).
Whether you’re trying to stay on budget, or just find a unique costume, hitting local thrift stores is a great way to make this Halloween memorable.
By: Julie Morris
Being a single parent is one of the hardest jobs on the planet, and a solo trip to an exciting destination can be just the break you need to fully restore yourself. There are dozens of benefits to traveling solo, but there are also some things you should know. Here are some important tips.
Mind your safety
It’s fear mongering to say that solo travel is dangerous. It’s not. People travel all over the world with nothing but their whims and a suitcase and have perfectly safe, incredibly enjoyable trips. That doesn’t mean you should be too lax, however. It is important to mind your safety at all times.
It’s very important to know how to say “no” in as many ways as possible. As a solo traveler, you’re more susceptible to people trying to persuade you to do/buy things.
“Learn how to say ‘no, thank you’ in the local language, as well as ‘absolutely not’ – plus the local nonverbal gesture for no, which is often more effective than both. Also have local help numbers, such as the tourist police, programmed in your phone. You’ll probably never need them, but just knowing you have them can give you the confidence to deal with awkward situations,” says RoughGuides.com
Look for solo travelers deals
While there are many benefits to solo travel, there are also some downsides. One is the “single supplement”, where “tour operators, cruise lines and hotels often tack onto your bill to make up for the fact that they’re not making money off a second occupant.” Another is good ol’ fashioned loneliness. Sometimes you want - even just for a few hours - someone to experience things with. There are tons of cruises, trips, and set adventure packages for solo travelers that give you the freedom of being alone, with the comfort of never being too far away from travel companions. Here are just a couple of resources.
Be as selfish as is reasonable
One of the main mistakes first-time solo travelers make is they forget they are traveling solo. Let me explain: solo travelers should know it’s ok to indulge themselves in anything they want (within reason). That’s the point of solo travel. You are by yourself - without responsibilities to your children or another traveler with different wants and desires than you.
“Never will you have to apologize to anyone for sleeping in late at your hostel. You don’t have anyone else’s feelings to take into consideration, and that is sometimes the most encouraging reason to travel alone,” says travel site Matador Network.
Why do this?
Why leave the kids behind and travel solo? For one, it’s the ultimate way to refresh, recharge, and focus on you and your desires. For people in addiction recovery, or those dealing with some sort of major life stress, solo travel is perhaps the only way to get a true break from life’s daily stressors and triggers. It’s hard to get perspective on your life from the same place you’re always in. Getting away for a bit can provide the ultimate clarity, and, in turn, show you just why you love and cherish your normal life. That’s the truly restorative effect.
In the end, a solo travel trip is whatever you want it to be - that’s the point. But the one common thread running through most solo adventures is one of restoration and discovery. Not only is it not wrong to want to get away, by yourself, for a bit - but it’s sometimes better than traveling with others.
Photo Credit: Pixabay.com
Were you raised by a single mother? Single Mom Appreciation is a writing competition and a way to acknowledge your feelings about your mother. Follow the steps below and you can be one of the lucky winners. The three chosen stories will be posted on our website and blog. It will also be acknowledged via all our social networks.
Dare to make a difference. Give a single mom a gift for mother’s day. Donate $25 in your mother’s name. http...://www.amomshelpinghandofswfl.com/donate.html
1. Follow us on Twitter (@SWFLHelpingHand) and Instagram (amomshelpinghand)
2. “Like” our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/amomshelpinghandofswfl)
3. Add #amhhmoms #mothersdaychallenge to your post.
4. Share this message.
5. Tell us about your mother. How was it being raised by a single mother? How has your mother inspired you? If you could only thank your mother for one thing what would it be?
1. Email email@example.com
2. Subject line: I love my mother
3. Minimum 500 words.
4. Attach a picture of your mother
By: Michelle Peterson
As a child, I thought being a Valentine’s baby was the best thing ever. As far as I could tell, February 14th was the greatest day of the year to have a birthday. A shoebox full of love notes from all my classmates? And free candy? And birthday presents, too? Yes, that was basically my childhood dream-come-true.
Of course, then I hit adulthood. Eventually, Valentine’s Day came to represent something entirely different. After experiencing Valentine’s Day as a single adult, I soon realized that Valentine’s Day is tough on singles - regardless of whether or not you’re a Valentine’s baby.
Here’s a little secret though: February 14th doesn’t have to be a terrible day just because you’re single. It’s possible to survive Valentine’s Day without a significant other at your side. Here’s a “Single on Valentine’s Day” Survival Guide…
Valentine’s Survival Tip #1... Treat Yo’Self!
If you’re a fan of the show Parks and Rec, you already know that the characters Tom Haverford and Donna Meagle were onto something with their slogan “treat yo’self.” The idea of treating yourself to your heart’s desires simply because you deserve it, applies to any day of the year - not just Valentine’s Day.
Of course, if you do find yourself single on February 14th, consider it the perfect day of the year to take Tom’s and Donna’s advice. Make “treat yo’self” your Valentine’s Day anthem. Treat yourself to a date at your favorite restaurant. Treat yourself to a relaxing massage. Treat yourself by spending the extra money for the special hot stone massage with aromatherapy (because you love the soothing smell of lavender oil). Afterwards, treat yourself to the finest dark chocolate candy bear that your local chocolate shoppe has to offer. Treat yo’self. Because you deserve it.
Valentine’s Survival Tip #2… Find the Other Singles
Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be a miserable day, spent moping around the house all alone while your friends celebrate their perfect love with their perfect soulmates. Think of Valentine’s Day as the perfect opportunity to meet other singles who, like yourself, are looking for love. As Dating coach Harris O’Malley points out, Valentine’s Day “is a holiday designed to make you feel like the loneliest [person] on the planet. I promise you: you’re not. There are many, many people sitting around on Valentine’s Day, feeling exactly the same way you do.” Adding to the optimism, Facebook data shows that over 70% of “Facebook official” couples list Valentine’s Day as their official first date, and it remains the highest overall day for people to enter a new relationship.
Valentine’s Survival Tip #3… Don’t Take It Too Seriously
Contrary to what the greeting card stores will tell you, Valentine’s Day as we know it today was created to sell factory-made cards during the industrial revolution of the 19th century. By 1913, Hallmark had jumped on board... and it worked! Valentine’s Day has skyrocketed to become the 2nd most popular card-sending holiday, topped only by Christmas. What the cards don’t tell you, however, is that Valentine’s Day has dark origins and even the stories about Saint Valentine being martyred were probably fabricated. So next time you start feeling down for being single on Valentine’s Day? Remind yourself that it is really just another day of the year.
Spending Valentine’s Day as a single adult doesn’t mean you have to endure a day of bitterness, resentment and misery. With some creativity, determination and positive attitude, you can reframe Valentine’s Day to be a celebration. Don’t take it too seriously. Instead, just use it as an excuse to treat yourself to the finer things in life. Celebrate self care and remember to love yourself. You deserve it, today and everyday.
Guest Columnist Michelle Peterson has been in recovery for several years. Her mission is aligned with that of RecoveryPride, which is to celebrate sobriety and those who achieve it.
The United States leads the world in fatherless families. Nearly 40% of children in father-absent homes have not seen their dad during the past year, and more than half of all fatherless children have never been in their dad’s home. The number of children being raised by single mothers more than tripled between 1960 and 2000.
When it's 10:00 p.m. and your kids are in bed. You're stressed from the endless work to be done and you slump down on the kitchen floor crying, wondering how you will do it all again tomorrow,
YOU'RE NOT ALONE!
When you are at the grocery store trying to decide if you should purchase the shampoo and conditioner so your daughter can go to school with clean hair tomorrow or that last item or two you need for dinner,
YOU'RE NOT ALONE!
When your child's birthday is around the corner and you don't know how to tell them you just don't have the money for a party, not even one at home,
YOU'RE NOT ALONE!
You're looking through the want ads wishing you had the skills to land you that perfect job,
YOU'RE NOT ALONE!
School supply lists just arrived and the kids are so eager to get back to school. You on the other hand are trying to figure out how to purchase all the supplies they need to be prepared the first day or to pay the utility bills,
YOU'RE NOT ALONE!
You're a child of a single mom dealing with issues no child should ever have to face. Wishing things could change and other kids your age understood,
YOU'RE NOT ALONE!
A Mom's Helping Hand of SWFL is dedicated to assisting single moms and their children in the SWFL area. Contact us and let us show you that you no longer have to go it alone!
By Allison Herrin
Mother’s Day is a celebration! We love ALL things mom right? Why wouldn’t we? Moms are heroes. Most moms don’t do it because they have to. They do it because there is no sweeter joy on the planet than that of a being a mom. They do it because it is a calling and this new found love that only exists after becoming a mom fuels everything they do.
For the single mom Mother’s Day is a day where she often feels more inadequate than ever. She is reminded that there is no one there to help her celebrate and her children probably don’t know how to make this day a special one. She remembers that she is tired and carry’s some very heavy burdens alone! She wants the world to know that she really wouldn’t choose to do it alone. No one would, would they? She just wants a healthy, well rounded and stable life for her family. She is just like every other mom only with no one to lean on. Now don’t get me wrong, many single moms do ok, but we were not designed to do it alone so it is inevitable that they are going to feel burdened at some point.
Motherhood is a choice that we make every single day to put others needs before our own but for the single mom it is an infinitely harder choice. Not because she loves her children less than you do. Not because she wants any less for her kids than greatness but because she is tired. It’s that simple. She is EVERYTHING to her family and she is exhausted! There is no dad to step in when she desperately needs a break.
We all know a single mom or at least know of one. How can we not when they represent 50% of our population? Will you consider doing something special for that single mama you know? What about for that one you don’t know personally but you know of her?
I bet you will be blessed even more than she is if you give it a shot!
I remember when I was a single mom, a young woman named Katie would come to the office with her toddler son dressed in a tuxedo. She would deliver to all the single moms she knew a simple rose. It was the only time that I remember someone else thinking of me and how I must feel on what should be a memorable day for all moms. That simple act of kindness for that moment made me feel more valued and treasured than any other time during my single parenting years. Imagine for a moment no one ever thinking of you or giving you something special. Imagine feeling completely alone without anyone to help figure things out with? That is the life of so many single moms. Will you change that for them?
Need some help deciding what you can do?
Got some other ideas? Share the love by leaving a comment.
I spoke with a single mom the other day that said she's heard of our program. When I asked why she hasn't gotten involved her reply was one that I think many can relate to. She told me she didn't want to go to a meeting alone where she doesn't know anyone as its a bit intimidating and in her current situation she is not in need of any of the "financial" aspects of the program.
Imagine her suprise when I told her very few of the moms knew each other before they found AMHH.... That however has not stopped them from becoming part of the family. And that is exactly what we are, a family.
I invite any single mom to our support group meeting tonight. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain!
Not a single mom but want to get involved with support group meetings? Give us a call to find out how you can get involved.