Becoming a single parent is a major life change that consists of many sacrifices, and obstacles along the way; but equally rewards you with unconditional love and care of another being. And like many people, as a sole breadwinner I am always trying to find the best ways to manage my money to make it work for me (and the kids). Despite this, poor decision-making can and does happen, like everyone else, but to the detriment of the family. But in the end I see them as lessons learned which I wanted to share below
Try and plan for those last minute emergencies
Sudden expenses can really throw you off course when you least expect it. Whether that be a car repair or upgrading your boiler there always seems to be some surprise just around the corner waiting for your money. From having a number of experiences like this I try and make a habit of putting down something-anything when I can just to save me from going into other expenses that are just as important.
Start saving from early
I made it a priority to open up my kids bank accounts pretty much from birth. The goal was initially to put money in every month, then every birthday and now it’s whenever I have means to do so. But the intention remains the same, they’ll have something to invest back into themselves when their older.
Don’t say no to financial support
Sometimes pride alongside social stigmas of being on benefits can get in the way when it comes to taking money from friends, family and even the government. At the end of the day it is all there to help you when your in need; take the support with no apologies given. They are there for a reason.
Spend on yourself once in a while
When your main priority is your children, your usually left on the back burner. But I think investing in myself is a form of self-care that is vital to good well-being, as long as it isn’t having a negative impact on the rest of your finances. When mum’s happy, everyone ‘s happy right?!
Being frugal can go a long way
Its okay to want the simple things in life. I have learnt to live within my means and try not to compare my life against anyone else’s because it won’t ever match up. One way I have been able to successfully do this is taking a minimalist approach so that whenever I am deciding to part ways with my money I am always asking these questions:
Do I really need it?
Do I love it?
Do I have something at home that can do the same thing?
With this in mind I can make more valuable purchases.
Value experiences over things
Kids tend to remember their childhood via the experiences they had growing up rather than the things you actually bought them. The thrill of a new toy fades, but experiences last forever. You can’t buy that sort of thing!
Career and childcare go hand in hand
Net income – external childcare = £0 left over at the end of the month. That was the equation for me trying to even consider balancing full-time work with childcare 5 days a week. Flexibility is a buzzword in this arena where employers and employees are having to come to some kind of consensus to suit both parties. If that doesn’t work sacrifices need to be made.
Avoid borrowing money
Research by Gingerbread charity found that one in 10 single working parents have resorted to using payday and doorstep lenders who have these high extortionate interest rates. Unless you’re sure you can pay them back in due time, I would avoid these at all cost. Something I have done and will continue to do because I have witnessed the negative consequences.
Delayed gratification can be a good thing
Studies show that delayed gratification is one of the most effective personal traits of successful people. Although it’s not an easy skill to obtain, it is one that when mastered can give you enough self-discipline and vision to make the right choices when it comes to save, or to splurge.
To invest or to not invest in life insurance
This has been a debate for me, and an important one at that. Once you enter the world of parenting there’s no turning back; and it is always the hope that your kids live on and hold the fort. But will they have the financial means to cover your funeral costs? These thoughts have concluded in me most likely taking the investing route.
In reflection, I feel many of the lessons I have learnt in my motherhood can be applicable to those without kids. Take what resonates, maybe you have a list of your own to share? Comment below and let us know!