When Emma Johnson’s marriage came to an end, the beginning of her new identity as a self-motivated, self-possessed professional-and-mom truly emerged. At the time, she had little money, was pregnant and taking care of a toddler. The circumstances were tricky: her husband at the time had fallen off a cliff while overseas on a work assignment and suffered a brain injury. The life they tried to piece back together was one of “constant chaos” as his physical capabilities were restored but his personality remained dramatically changed. Johnson and her husband fought like never before and their relationship didn’t make it. But while life at home as a newly single mom had the potential to become immeasurably complicated, Johnson decided to turned the spotlight on her earning potential. Instead of starting to desperately clip coupons, she tweaked her resume and tapped into her professional networks while learning about marketing and negotiating. Her career skyrocketed like never before. So she just had to share this wisdom with other single moms.
Johnson went on to launch her blog, WealthySingleMommy.com, where she writes about everything from smart investing tips to sexy dating experiences. She also hosts a podcast, “Like A Mother with Emma Johnson.” Her work is deeply personal and it’s all about not just getting by as a single mom, as pop culture would have us believe, but doing well, really well, both professionally and personally. Johnson writes not just from experience but also from the perspective of being raised by a single mom during a time when women were practically stricken to a life of cinching purse strings and nights spent sitting alone on the couch. “Women didn’t have economic and career opportunities that we do today,” Johnson says during a phone interview. “It’s so easy to go down the road of self-pity; I say that from personal experience. But let’s move on together and pull each other up.”
That’s the idea behind Johnson’s recently published a book, The Kickass Single Mom: Be Financially Independent, Discover Your Sexiest Self, and Raise Fabulous, Happy Children, which she packed with actionable advice and inspiring stories from her own life and those of other successful single moms. She covers social isolation, loneliness, money worries, feelings of shame. In other words, really heavy stuff. She walks readers through the not-so-fun topics of credit scores and budgeting. But doesn’t forget to cover other essentials like self-care, sex, and sharing parenting duties. It’s a pep talk, a bit of a history lesson, and a how-to book of advice that she needed herself as a single working parent.
When talking about gender equality, feminism, activism, and money, Johnson says her goals are big. But she wants to help individual women first and foremost. “If I can do this, other women can do it too,” she says. That means everything from demanding equal pay to carving out time for health, hobbies, friendships, faith, community, travel, whatever makes you happy. So how to do it?
Johnson’s biggest pieces of advice about being a happy, wealthy single mom are about embracing choice and setting out to create a life you really want to live. That means never feeling guilty about wanting what you want, which might include earning a ton of money and having a very active dating life. One big way to do this is by reconsidering how you spend your hours. “Spending time, energy, and headspace on activities you hate sucks your energy, fosters resentment, and steals time, energy, and headspace from things that give you joy and energy and possibly earn you more money,” Johnson says. Think about how that applies to certain household chores or daily or weekly tasks, then assign them to someone else and use that time doing the stuff that matters to you. On top of that, surround yourself with positive, successful people who believe in you, Johnson says. Then you’ll be a more joyful and present person, which is also being a really great role model for your kids.
Being such a fulfilled parent has a lot to do with being in New York City for Johnson. Apartment living couldn’t be any easier, especially for a single mom like her. Her kids can run around with other kids in the building, everything is easy and efficient, she doesn’t have to shovel snow or repair her roof. There are so many career opportunities too, especially for Johnson working in media. And she appreciates all the successful and ambitious people that call this city home. “It’s not hard to find other cool women doing cool things,” she says. That applies to men too. “There are so many interesting men, and everyone is politically progressive,” she adds.
Johnson has lived in Astoria for 14 years and while the neighborhood keeps changing, she’s never left. The new East River Ferry landing is now a family favorite with her and her kids, where they can hop on a boat and head down to Long Island City or DUMBO for the day. They’ll also like to take tourists to Roosevelt Island, ride the tram, and stop by Dylan’s Candy Bar, or simply spend the day at Central Park. Queens-side, Astoria Park has tons to do, and Forest Hills is a frequent stop for her child’s theater program. Johnson can also be found at the produce shops on 30th Avenue, Astoria Coffee, or Lockwood, which is full of unique household goods and clothing. With time to herself, Johnson likes to ride her bike over the 59th Street Bridge, or stop by Yoga Agora for a class. And meals out usually means Pachanga Patterson for Mexican food, Gastroteca Astoria, or the original Bareburger on 31st Avenue.
With Johnson’s book having just released this fall, her next big project may not be for a while, but she already has her sights set on writing another book or tackling universal childcare through activism. It’s no surprise considering how she’s spent the past five years working on helping women realize their value in the workplace, especially when it comes to compensation, which means overall equality of the sexes. “I would love to be part of that,” she says. We’ll be sure to stay tuned.