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    Posted November 28, 2012 by
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    The fiscal cliff: Messages to Washington

    Benchmark success

    45 year old single mom with a 17 year old son who I have raised without any social services reliance or child support (my choice, dad is involved with our son & we were never married our choice).
    My annual gross wages without any overtime & before taxes is $41,600. When I started with my employer 20 years ago, it was $15,080.
    Healthy savings & am in a 401K retirement plan + pension plan. I use flex health care spending and bank $500 – $1,000 a year for medical related expenses that my health and dental insurance doesn’t cover, impacting my pre-tax income.
    I work overtime when the option comes up; before son was born I would work more than 1 job if needed to pay my bills & take care of myself.
    I paid off my 30 year mortgage after 13 years in a decent neighborhood; carry no debt (pay everything when due, carrying no balances on credit cards); good credit rating and have 2 vehicles (2001 bought new then and took good care of / kept up on preventive maintenance; 2003 got used in 2008)
    Keys to success: Foremost in mind difference between WANT & NEED and independent thinking. Don’t buy into the “keeping up with the Jones” mind set or succumb to related peer pressure trends. Strong work ethic, reliance on self, do not buy into social service reliance….However, if I was disabled and could not work I do expect government assistance. If I do happen to get laid off, I do expect government assistance. Mind set on both: I have been working & paying into the related systems since the age of 16. I also have expectations that social security that I’ve been paying into will be coming back to me when I reach related retirement age down the line.
    If I can’t afford to pay it off within a month on my credit card, I don’t buy it. I save up for it or never purchase. Group my errands to cut down on unnecessary extra trips.
    I don’t go out every single weekend drinking or clubbing; I don’t constantly buy new clothes; shop value chains 1st, then look to mall venues; I plan my grocery shopping around coupons, weekly sales and utilize club store when purchase makes sense, buy a combination of store & national brand depending on actual item; I don’t smoke. Even though my volunteer work and employment signifies a need for a data plan cell phone, I make use with one that has texting w/o key board & no data plan. Television wise, I have cable / broad band internet package without premium movie channels. I have a programmable thermostat. I turn off lights when I’m not going to be in a room for a defined period of time.
    Donate time with volunteer advocacy; donate clothing & household items no longer needed to non-profits; donate $ to certain cancer research initiatives…all without itemizing deductions on my tax returns.
    Been working since age of sixteen; graduated HS with a Regents Diploma & had taken some AP classes for college credits; have a 2 year degree in business administration and pursing (part time) on line for a bachelors in law / society through a state university, taking advantage of my employer tuition coverage based on getting at least a certain grade per class, making sure I do what I need to achieve at least that related grade.
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