26 November 2012

Single Mums' Story - Elaine (Mortgage Free in Three) Colliar.

Here is the next in the second series of our marvellous Single Mum's Stories. It's great to have a new audience with us this time around, as well as our maintaining our current one.  We're spreading further afield all the time and it is intriguing to see what happens next.

This one is from five times World Mind Mapping Champion, Elaine Colliar.  She is 43, has two children who are 12 and four and has been blogging for just over a year at Mortgage Free in Three, her aim being to become exactly that - mortgage free in three years, but in a gentle and sustainable way.

This mission was inspired by events in 2009, when her family was smashed flat by the credit crunch and she was left with no partner, no business, repossession papers on her home and literally "71p and three nappies" to her name and the bank froze all related accounts without notice.  She says she scraped herself out of the gutter and chose 'revenge' on the banks, managing to pay off £10 000 in 22 months, half of which time whilst living on basic state benefits.

She now focuses on bootstrapping several self-employed revenue streams to claw back the financial future for her children that disappeared overnight and is a great believer that as long as you are in motion you will eventually hit your target!

She likes to have fun and to write about the little things that can make a big impact.

 


 
Elaine (Mortgage Free in Three) Colliar, 43.



Yup – another “scummy single Mum here” – actually it’s worse than that, I have two kids ……………… so does that make me a “scummy double Mummy”????

I mean I am nothing like the “perceived stereotype” but I still often feel the effects of being tarred with the same massively wide brush by the mainstream media (male AND recently female journalists BTW) ;-)  MUMSNET anyone????

OMG – you gotta love the Media brainwashing that we all allow ourselves to be sucked into don’t you?
 

I’m in the business of “growing men” not “raising boys” – trust me there is a very important distinction here.  Actually come to think of it – if a certain Mum and Dad one generation back had “grown a man” instead of “raising a boy” then I wouldn’t be in the position of having to do the whole “being responsible for our kids all on my own” malarkey.

Not that I am bitter – because in reality what I have discovered during the last few years is that this is actually quite a lot easier on my own.  As I look at it, I have just two kids to care for now and not three.(Tongue firmly in cheek here)

Now the “conservatives” amongst you (that’s small c BTW) will be throwing up your hands at horror at such blasphemy.  “Because kids need both parents” ……………… well the latest research from Gingerbread doesn’t bear out your claim I’m afraid.

“Parental separation by itself is not considered predictive of a poor outcome in children”

So – a “Get out of Jail Free Card” then???  Well afraid not – you see they also balance this out with:

“…… the resulting single parent status often leads to financial hardships.  That resulting poverty may be a significant factor in explaining poorer child outcomes rather than family structure”

HOLY CRAPOLA!!!!! Bring on the guilt trip.  It’s not the fact that I am a single parent that is going to blight my kids lives …………… it’s the fact that we are poor!!!  WE ARE DOOMED!!!

Funny thing is my kids don’t think we are poor ………….. (because I have never told them LOL).  In reality we live on a smidge over £800 per month, it’s tight, but doable at a pinch and every month I manage to not only pay my mortgage but overpay on the capital too.

How? Well I am super organized (lists anyone) and sure I do the “Frugal Stuff” too – I can menu plan, build a store cupboard and feed a visiting hoard with three lentils and a great slow-cooker recipe LOL.  In reality the reason we don’t “feel poor” is that we never act it.  Instead my boys and I are on a mission to not only survive as a smaller family unit but to thrive.  Our Big Bad Goal is to pay off our £126000 mortgage by Christmas Eve 2014 ………………. And we celebrate every mini milestone achieved.

Now sure, the toddler doesn’t really “get” the whole money thing, but my 12 year old does.  Money has to be earned and then EITHER spent or invested for your future.  Every penny that we have beyond paying for our necessities if ours to make a decision with …………. And we are choosing eventual Financial Freedom.

So do I have a “job” – well not in the “traditional sense” ………….. you see I live in a rural area in Scotland and if I were to get a local job it would be at minimum wage and most of that money would disappear in paying for suitable childcare……………. So instead I have chosen the much more precarious route of being self employed.

I do lots of things, I tutor local kids, I write training books,  I create Mind Maps for professional organisations, I  create online courses, I speak at conferences, I work at memory competitions ……………………. But everything I now do I have learned since being on my own with the kids. If I think I can earn some money I roll up my sleeves, acquire the skills and get stuck in. Slowly and surely this strategy is beginning to pay off……. And every penny earned goes into the mortgage account.

From 12 kids tutored last year (all whom got straight A’s BTW) I have been able to design a new course delivered via online video ……………. In response to parents wanting me to work with their kids, but me being ,naturally, unable to leave my kids at the weekend to do so……. Create the solution that gives you the best economic leverage – see?

I have a new book, not only written but ready to be launched on Amazon Kindle.  Not bad for a dyslexic single Mum – eh? (when is someone going to invent the sarcasm font???)

But more importantly I have two boys who are seeing the power of dreaming a big dream and then getting busy with the work needed to achieve the end goal ………………. “poor” is a state of mind too and I refuse to get sucked into playing that game.

Together as a family our life is about abundance, about creative solutions, about setting and achieving our goals at school, at work and as a unit.

And that “Mainstream Media” take note is a looooooong way from the Vikki Pollard stereotype.  As my 12 year old pointed out this week – Barak Obama came from a single parent family …… and he hasn’t done too bad for himself has he??? LOL

Let’s raise our glasses to our great kids and the important lessons we can share with them in the years to come………………… after all its not ”All about the Money, money, money!!”

21 comments:

  1. I'm in awe of people like Elaine. How completely admirable her attitude is and what a fantastic role model to her kids.

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    1. Just an ordinary Mum that figured out early that I didn't have to be the best Mum AND Dad to my boys - just the best Mum. Dad has to fight his own battles his own way LOL.

      Negative attitude just got me depressed, overweight and skint - choosing something different really has made all the difference. So much doom and gloom and keeping people down is hard - so I choose to ignore the triple dip recession and create a great life regardless.

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  2. Elaine, you are totally inspiring. I'm rushing to join your blog. (And yes, I've not forgotten that I need to write one of these posts. - sorry it's taken so long.)

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    1. You are very welcome to pop over and join in the fun and games hon.

      Rules of the game - keep taking baby-steps, chocolate is a legitimate food group and Oh Yes!! We really can talk LOL

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  3. Great post, I hope your strategy to pay off the mortgage in 3 works out. Having financial freedom is definitely a worthy target.

    I agree that it is in fact easier to do the parenting alone a lot of the time.

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    1. It is so much more beyond financial freedom - my boys see that you can have anything you want as long as you are prepared to put the graft in, that delayed gratification is worth in the long term and that no matter how often you end up on the bottom of the pile your attitude determines where you eventually end up ................. hopefully one of them will write a great book about it in the years to come LOL

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  4. This is a fabulous post. What an inspiring, determined woman and mother. Going to check out Elaine's blog now. I can see how bringing together a collection of single mum's stories like these as a book would really work, Anya. It's a great idea, and good luck with it. x

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    1. A book would be a great idea wouldn't it??? (Get going Missus!!! LOL)

      I think the phrase most often used by my friends is "sheer bl****y minded" - but I accept inspiring and determined with the dignity they deserve :-)

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  5. I can really relate to the position you found yourself in Elaine and you are such an inspiring woman. I am endeavouring to 'think differently' about being a single parent, a skint one at that, so thanks for your post - it's really given me a boost today.

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    1. There is nothing that can't be tackled Kate - with a big enough "Why?" the "How" soon appears ........... that and a bottomless teapot of course.

      Skint is the right word - cos skint is temporary. Hate it when we refer to ourselves as "broke" because there is nothing "broken" about us, just temporary cash flow snaffu's.

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  6. Totally inspirational! I also hate the media stereotype of the single mum, and stories like yours prove that many single parents are resourceful and hardworking. I take my virtual hat off to you Elaine!

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    1. Bobs a curtsey - thanks hon!!

      Creativity is the key - getting your thinking cap on to figure out how you can still do stuff rather than throwing in the towel and saying it can't be done.

      Means you end up learning some crazy stuff - patchworks sofas, canning, knitting socks being the more sensible things I have tackled this past year.

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  7. I really enjoyed this and am in awe of Elaine's energy and positivity :)

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    1. I'm not always brim full of either energy or positivity - but every day I keep taking baby steps towards my goal and if I go to bed each night having done something then that day is chalked up as a success.

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  8. Elaine, I think you can be summed up in one word and that word is WOW! You are totally unstoppable and unflappable - what an inspiration. I look forward to reading your book. You could certainly teach me a few things (let alone the kids!)
    Great series Anya xx

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    1. Now I have got the bit between my teeth I hope I am unstoppable LOL

      Every day I am chipping away at my mortgage and closer towards my Big Bad Goal.

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  9. I am just going to repeat what the other commentators said - that you have a wonderful attitude to life, are totally inspirational, and a fabulous role model to your sons. Great post!

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    1. Thanks hon - but I think most women display such attitudes when they are backed into a corner ................. something about putting us under pressure really brings out the best in us all :-)

      Here's to a great ending to 2012 and a fabulous 2013

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  10. What a ruddy inspirational post. I love your attitude to life. Seems like you are managing to be a role model not just to the future men you are bringing up but to a whole bunch of other people - me included. Good on you!

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  11. Thanks Luci - I had some great teachers in the past - and in even in the past few months that means I am less likely to "go with the flow" and more likely to "carve my own path" - if you will excuse the cliches this early in the morning.

    For year they have been encouraging me to write a course for my teenage students - and for years I though it was only for smarty pants, but you know what I am nearly done .................... so what thing can you guys tackle in 2013that will make your heart sing?

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  12. Fantastic post, with an inspiring attitude. I wish more people had your work ethic and complete lack of feeling entitled. I am not a single mother, although a very good friend of mine is, and I admire her every day. She works harder than anyone I know and has an amazing attitude. I am a military wife however, and last year I played at (almost) being a single mother for four months. Despite missing their father terribly, and only speaking to him once a week, my kids (3 and 6yo)thrived.

    Please don't take offense at my comparison with my situation and that of a single mother, I know it is different and my husband did eventually come home. However, I do completely agree with your comment Elaine, that at times it is easier without a man around! I don't believe that the setup of a family is what matters, it is the love and hard work which really makes a family.

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