The Moneyist: I’m a single mom. I take my kids on trips. My mother says that’s crazy and I should be saving for a house. What do you think?

United States

I am a single mother of two children. 

I work six days per week and I also go to school. We live on our own in a house that I currently rent. I am saving to buy a home of my own, and I am also paying off my car. This pandemic has not affected my plans very much, which I’m thankful for. 

Our house is small. It accommodates all three of us just fine, but once every three months I like to rent a hotel room in different cities. Sometimes, I rent a hotel room by the beach, Las Vegas or other places that I think would be nice for us to see.

My mother says it’s crazy, and says I should not be spending my money on useless things like a hotel room when I have a home. I don’t see anything bad with getting away for a night or two, and my kids enjoy it and talk about it for days. 

Sometimes I do doubt if I’m doing anything wrong, or if I should stop and simply just save all of my money until we buy our forever home. Please give me your advice.

Single Mom

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Dear Single Mom Who Has Worked for Everything She’s Got and Still Manages to Give Her Family Vacations to Remember,

You and your children are a team. Thank your mother for her advice, but gently but firmly tell her that you will ensure that you have all your ducks in a row, and that the conversation about your family trips are now closed. Remind her of the memories she created for you as a child.

While your mother obviously feels protective of you and is likely only looking out for your interests, there is a fine line between giving unsolicited advice and — however unintentionally — vacation-shaming you. Of course, it’s wise to make a plan and save for a goal.

You work six days a week and you are raising two children singlehandedly. You essentially have two full-time jobs. Taking a mini vacation in a hotel every few months gives your family a much-needed break from domestic routine, and probably does wonders for all of your mental health. 

It also creates excitement as the vacation date nears, and broadens your children’s horizons by allowing them to explore different cities. You will not get a second chance to create these childhood memories for your children when you have your forever home in five or 10 years.

You get one shot at being a mother, and they have one shot at childhood. If you have not done so already, put together a financial plan that includes your family trips, along with savings for a house to call your own. As your children get older, it could also be one more thing you can plan as a family.

You’re not crazy. Like millions of women raising children on their own while working full time, you’re a hero.

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