Single mum struggles to make ends meet as bills keep rising

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  • Making ends meet has become an uphill struggle for single mothers (Photo by Mark Tatem)

    Making ends meet has become an uphill struggle for single mothers (Photo by Mark Tatem)


When your monthly wages are $900 and your monthly rent is $900, to say you haven’t got much money to play with is a bit of an understatement.

That’s the problem currently faced by Miss X, a single mother who often has to go without food herself so her three-year-old boy can eat.

While assistance from the state, family and friends goes some way to ensuring they have a roof over their heads, the ever-mounting bills and chaotic hand-to-mouth existence leave her with a desperate sense of hopelessness.

It shouldn’t have turned out like this, you might think, for a 26-year-old who went to school, qualified in her chosen profession and held a full-time job with a well-known local company less than a year ago.

Miss X lives in a one-bedroom apartment, with her son sleeping in the loft.

“It’s very affordably priced but right now, because of the fact that I don’t have a full-time steady position, what I do make is just enough to pay my rent,” the mother, who asked not to be named, told The Royal Gazette.

“I’m falling behind on all my bills, but still have a roof over my head. Unlike some people I don’t have a lot of options. I can’t go back to my family.

“I haven’t had power in over a month. Belco cut me off months ago. They said I had until the 12th and they would disconnect me.”

She earns $900 a month working part-time in an office, and is boosted by up to $800 day-care allowance. Once rent ($900), Belco ($200), CableVision ($75), laundry ($80), gas ($50) and cell phone ($200) have been factored in, there’s about $200 a month left for groceries — more if she doesn’t pay certain bills.

“After a while, I stopped buying food for myself and only got it for my son,” said Miss X.

“I can go without or go to my grandmother’s house to get a meal. That’s just one of the sacrifices I have to make.

“Luckily for me, I have great friends. They love me so much. I have a very difficult time accepting things, but my friends were relentless. My best friend, when things were good, we used to go to lunch daily. When it got to the point where I couldn’t afford it any more, he would sneak money into my purse so I could pay my rent.

“Another friend paid for me to stay at a hotel for the weekend. If it wasn’t for my friends, I don’t know where I would be.”

Miss X explained her position to One Bermuda Alliance leader Craig Cannonier during a meeting last year and ended up getting mentioned in the Throne Speech Reply.

“A few days ago, I was approached by a young woman in her mid-20s; a single mother with a small child,” said Mr Cannonier at the start of the parliamentary term last November.

“She has been jobless since September. She will not be eligible for financial assistance until the middle of December.

“When I met her, she had $300 to her name, the bills were piling up; she had no prospect for any improvement in her situation.”

When The Royal Gazette tracked her down, she explained she’d given up her job through choice, and since found it impossible to get full-time work.

“I was working full-time. That’s when I started getting into debt. What they were paying me wasn’t enough,” she said.

“It was a high-stress position. I had to make a choice: either stay there and lose my sanity or get out and look for something else.”

After tax, that job paid $1,800 a month. Not enough, she decided, to make the stress worthwhile on top of single-handedly bringing up a child,

Like many young women in Bermuda, she’s also facing the consequences of an absentee father’s refusal to pay his way.

“My son’s grandfather was helping me out for a bit, but he stopped after a while. The father is very irresponsible. I wish I would have known what I know now back then. He’s an habitual liar.

“I was probably a bit naive. At the time he was filling this void, nothing more.

“He wasn’t bothered and in the end I told him I don’t even need you in your child’s life. I never saw him anymore.”

She took him to court three times to try to get him to pay maintenance, which would have amounted to $75 a week.

But the case stalled after he requested a DNA test and then failed to turn up for his appointment at the diagnostic centre.

After he didn’t appear at a number of subsequent court hearings, and no warrant was issued for his arrest, Miss X gave up, deciding $75 a week was not a pot of gold worth pursuing.

“I said this is a waste of time. I’m not one for the wild goose chase,” she said.

Miss X said Mr Cannonier hit the nail on the head when he told the House of Assembly: “She is trying to be brave. She is trying to be positive, but she is at her wit’s end.”

She said: “It’s just ridiculous, all the stuff you have to go through.

“There’s no opportunities here within my field. There’s only so many places I can work. I went to school, I have certification in my field. But here you have to be a veteran to get respect.

“It’s frustrating. There’s nothing really to look forward to.”

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Published Apr 17, 2012 at 8:56 am (Updated Apr 17, 2012 at 8:56 am)

Single mum struggles to make ends meet as bills keep rising

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