a single mother

New No Shit FDIC Survey: Single Mom Households Don’t Have Enough Money

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I love when there’s a news story that’s not really news because most people the news story is about don’t consider the news story actual news because it’s just a day to day reality fact. This news story is all about the truly shocking fact that poor people are poor. Please pick your jaw up off the floor and continue reading.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation released a new survey on Wednesday that tells us all what any single mom digging for quarters in her sofa cushions to buy milk all ready knows: single mom households don’t have enough money.

From The Huffington Post:

Nearly half of households headed up by a single mom don’t regularly use a bank account and rely on pricey alternative financial services, according to the surprising findings released by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation on Wednesday.

I’m not sure what our pals at Huffington Post find so “surprising” about this. The majority of one-parent families in this economy don’t usually have the extra cash to take part in a banking system, where a basic checking account costs more than $144 on average per year. $144 may not seem like a lot of money to some people, but to a single mother it can mean new winter coats and basic necessities for the school year for her kid, like pencils and paper. Most one-income families can’t afford to pay that amount for checks and fees.

When I was a single mother I didn’t have a bank account, and instead I relied on a check cashing store  with ridiculous service fees to use as my “bank.” These stores, usually found in poorer neighborhoods, can be used to cash checks, get advances on a check, or to send or receive money via Western Union. It’s how single moms get by. It’s how my out-of-town mom could send me money to buy diapers or food when I found myself struggling to get by as a single mom on a minimum wage salary and going to college part time. A bank account didn’t even register on my necessity radar.

Single moms, this is how we do. We use check cashing stores in bad parts of town. We wear threadbare sweaters so we can buy our kid or kids new sneakers. We coupon and eat a lot of bulk rice and potatoes and get real excited when we can afford super fancy stuff, like apples and hamburger on sale. I find it not surprising, but amusing and sad that there needs to be a survey conducted to show that poor women with kids don’t have money to spend on checking or savings accounts. Is there that much of a disconnect between poor people and not-so-poor people that the FDIC needs to conduct a survey that show us a single mom doesn’t feel she can afford a traditional bank account? Pro tip: a single mom also doesn’t feel like she can afford to save money for retirement or save money for a house or even save money to have in case of emergency. A lot of single mom families, sad to say, are just trying to have milk in the refrigerator.

(photo: Oleg Golovnev/ Shutterstock)