Stand up to challenges about money, debt

Published 2:08 pm Saturday, May 30, 2015

Dear Leah,

I have lived below the poverty line most of my adulthood. I am a single parent and have faced many challenges in my life. My parents are hard working people, and though we were never rich, through them I learned to never give up. I’ve worked my way up to a decent wage at my job, can finally pay my bills on time, and I think I am at a place in my life to start being responsible with money. Living paycheck to paycheck and crisis to crisis is exhausting. Can you help me get started?

— Ready to be Responsible

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Dear Ready,

Your question is important because there are so many people in your same situation here in Albert Lea, and around the nation. I, for one, understand that there is so much more to poverty than just the lack of money. So kudos to you for never giving up. That takes guts.

Sometimes it takes a crisis, big or small, for us to truly be ready for change. I can recall an instance in my own life when my child needed a sack lunch for a field trip at school and there was no food in my fridge.

The dread I felt in the very pit of my stomach, was because I had not done my part, yet again, to properly plan and organize for this one small thing. I ended up spending my last three dollars on lunch items for her from an overpriced convenience store because we had no time to get to the grocery store.

It was that morning that I knew with everything I was that I could not continue to live my life that way and I was ready for change.

I decided to change my attitude about money. I was angry at it. I never had any money, so why should I bother to treat it with respect? It’s fair to say I hated money for never being there for me when I needed it. I was resentful of people that could provide lives for their families that I couldn’t. I had to let that go and see. See that money is a hard earned tool and along with all of my other strengths and resources, will be the tool I build my life with. I had to look deep inside and truly believe I deserved the life I dreamt of.

It’s clear you’ve gotten to that point. Yay! So now what? Find a banker you trust and be honest. If you’re not a customer, tell them that. And then let them know you’d like their guidance so someday you can be. Support and understanding are so important at a time like this. Find a budgeting tool that works for you, and use it! I recommend The Ultimate Mini Budget Binder. I found it on the Thirty Handmade Days website (, and the best part? It’s free! It’s also colorful and cheery which for some reason just made the change so much easier for me. Forgive yourself as you go. And lastly, be excited! You’ve stood up to every challenge set before you. You have the guts to stand up to this one too. This is one challenge worth accepting! Good luck!


Leah Albert is a fictitious character. She likes wine and writing. Don’t ask her to be a matchmaker. Do send your questions to Leah at