5 Ways Single Moms Can Recover from a Big Financial Mistake

Does this financial mistake sound familiar? 

Christmas is approaching, and you want to give your kiddos the best darn Christmas you can. So you head to the mall. 

You swipe your credit card 27 different times in one day. When Christmas morning rolls around, the look on your kids’ faces is priceless as they rip the wrapping paper off of box after box. 

But then it comes time to open your credit card statement a few weeks later. 

If you’re in a similar situation and have found yourself in the aftermath of a big financial mistake, know that it’s not the end of the world. With time, a bulletproof plan, and a lot of hard work, you can get out of the red and find your footing again. 

So here’s how single moms like you can recover from a moment of expensive misplaced judgment. 

1. Accept the Reality of the Situation

Sometimes, the most challenging part of finding yourself in a sticky financial mistake is accepting it. So even if you feel embarrassed, ashamed, or just plain silly for your blunder, try not to beat yourself up too much. You’re human. And you made the decisions you made with the best of intentions.

But now, it’s time to accept your mistake and do what needs to be done to get back on your feet. It doesn’t serve you to keep your head buried in the sand. So face the music and acknowledge that you’ll need to do some damage control. 

After all, you have a family to take care of. And by owning up to your misstep and committing to a brighter future, you’re setting an excellent example for your kids.

2. Take a Good Look at the Numbers

Look, mama. You’ll have to spend a weekend at the kitchen table facing the numbers. Take inventory of everything you’ve spent in the last 90 days and categorize each transaction.

  • Things you needed to buy
  • Things you wanted to buy
  • Things you didn’t need to spend that much money on

If you’re like most women I know, this process will be tricky – and enlightening. Of course, your big mistake will probably be front-and-center. But the point isn’t to guilt-trip yourself. 

You need to find areas where you can save money in the future – not just to recover financially but to improve your overall financial health. So be realistic about your discretionary spending and keep that number in mind as you move on to the next steps.

3. State Your Goals

Before drawing up your budget, define some SMART goals for yourself. A SMART goal is:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-Sensitive

For example, my SMART goal after my lavish Christmas shopping spree was, “I will pay off this credit card by next Christmas by repaying $250 each month and working overtime twice a month.”

When you’re clear about your financial goals, you’ll have a more concrete idea of how to budget. And budgeting? That’s where the magic happens. 

4. Make a New Budget

Now that you have a clear picture of your financial situation and a solid financial recovery goal, it’s time to make a new budget. Your budget should prioritize two things: your family’s basic needs and your financial mistake recovery.

Whether you use a spreadsheet, a notebook, or one of the many budgeting apps out there, your new budget should reflect your financial reality and goals. 

Make sure you include some wiggle room for unforeseen expenses. After all, field trip fees and doctor’s appointments can creep into your budget. So rather than getting defeated by going over budget, consider those inevitable expenses when creating your budget. 

And at the end of each month, reconcile your budget with your actual cash flow. Don’t worry too much if you overshoot it the first couple of months. You can be proud as long as you’re being honest with yourself and making progress towards your goals.

5. Take it Day by Day

Lastly, remember that your progress towards your budget will happen a little bit at a time. Every time you save a few bucks by opting to make coffee at home rather than buying a latte, you’re doing what it takes to recover from that big, ugly mistake.

So rather than beating yourself up about where you went wrong, congratulate yourself each day for those small victories. Believe it or not, those small moments in which you make sound financial decisions will eventually eclipse that one big lapse of judgment you made in the past. 

And the lesson you learned will ultimately land you in a better position down the line when you’re debt-free and financially stable.

Final Thoughts

Life’s mistakes are inevitable. And it may sound trite, but the learning and growth that happens in the aftermath of those mistakes are what makes you the strong, determined, capable woman you are.

When I finally paid off that stupid credit card (which took until October), I vowed never to be so reckless with my money again. I learned an important lesson that year about the value of money. 

So as long as you’re treating your big financial mistake as the learning opportunity that it is, you’re doing the best thing for yourself and your family. And if you need a little help bouncing back, check out our database of financial resources for single moms. You’ve got this, mama!

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My name is Jenna and I am the founder of Single Mom Spot. I've been a single mom for almost 10 years now. I'm a Christian and mama to two kids that I love like crazy. I started this site because I know how difficult single motherhood can be...and also, how beautiful. I believe that single motherhood helped make me into the best version of myself as a woman and mom. My hope, is that through a connection point like Single Mom Spot, women can share their experiences and grow together. What an amazing thing if every single mom could live her best life as a woman and mother right now, in the middle of her most challenging life circumstance. How bold. How beautiful. How unforgettable. Thank you for reading and supporting Single Mom Spot.