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Balancing the Work/Life Mashup

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After living in the Dominican Republic for four years, Jill Singer returned home as a single parent in 2005 with her two sons. Central America was beautiful but not an ideal place to raise a family and grow her graphic-design company that she started in 1985.

Now, the 55-year-old Rye native is raising two boys in college and running her business out of her White Plains home-office. A “solopreneur” and single mother who bought her 1,700 sq ft house for $712,500 in 2006 — or, as she jokes, “10 minutes south of the market peak” — Singer never lets up. She can’t. Her career, family, and obligations are part of what she dubs the “work/life mashup,” which can be a mix of challenges and rewards. She wouldn’t have it any other way.

“It never stops,” Singer says. “I’m in a service business, so even when I’m not working, I try to be available.”

Although her grandmother set aside some money for her sons’ college educations (one attends the University of Delaware, the other the Culinary Institute of America), she watches her expenses closely. She has to, as it all comes out of the same life/company pot. As a homeowner and parent, there are always bills on the horizon: Roughly $10K in property taxes, a mortgage on a home that is still worth less than what she paid for it 11 years ago, $12,000 a year for a high-deductible health-insurance plan, and regular business expenses, not to mention the unforeseeable, like broken boilers, computers, and car repairs. “Every time it looks like I’m getting close to paying something off, something else creeps in,” she says. “I dream of the day I don’t owe anybody money.”

Singer drives a 2011 RAV4 that she purchased used, dines out only occasionally and tries to pay a little extra on her mortgage each month. If she vacations, she’s typically on call and available for clients. In what little free time she has, she makes sure to take advantage of Westchester’s greatest assets: its nature trails, parks, and proximity to New York City. “You can find things to do that aren’t expensive,” she says. “I feel like I’m so lucky living here.”

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