Are you a single parent? It’s more common than you think. The first thing to accept is that you are now financially independent, or need to be. At first that can seem overwhelming, particularly as a single mum. Just understand that there is plenty of help out there if needed. There is such a great network of support through women in business networking groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. And they really are very supportive and helpful with lots of personal experience to tap into.
Get out and live your life, personally and in business. Embrace your kids, activities, the city, and financial opportunities. And take control of your finances; understand them and rework them to suit your new lifestyle.
Here are 7 financial steps to get you back on track after divorce:
1: Embrace that you are now financially independent. Yes, you may be eligible for child support, but also remember this, you may not end up getting it. But you can control how much you earn, and you can earn far more than a judge may order you be paid. It’s also very important at this stage to move on emotionally in this phase of your life; don’t rely on someone else.
2: Set some short- and long-term financial goals. In the short-term you may need to pay off a credit card bill, build an emergency savings account, or simply put; make more than you spend. Your longer term goals may include buying a home, saving for your kids’ college, or investing for retirement.
3: Set quality of life goals. There is no point in paying off a credit card bill if it means you work so much that you never see your kids or have time to exercise. Consider free time, quality time with your family, for their health and well-being. Think about how your money and life can work together.
4: Decide to make more money. Take a mentor, someone you know is doing it well, out for coffee to learn about opportunities in your profession. Research about doing further study. Consider starting your own business. Talk to your boss about working from home and other life-balance arrangements.
5: Get rid of bills for stuff you don’t need. Haven’t been to the gym in six months? Get real with yourself and cancel that bill. Look at your mobile phone and cable bills – can you trim down your services?
6: Go on a shopping diet. No more trips to the shopping centre to browse, on or offline. Make a strict list before stepping foot there, and do no stray into the cosmetics department for a “treat” no matter how good a deal it is! By making each purchase a conscious one, you will feel empowered and confident about your money.
7: Give yourself a break. Getting back on your feet after a divorce can be a long process full of setbacks. But this can also be one of the most exciting and empowering times of your life.
For most single parents, their lifestyle will be different from the past because of their changed financial circumstances. Try not to dwell on the past, and how different it may have been, because it will just eat away at you emotionally.
Build a financial plan that outlines your assets, income streams (from investments and working) and obligations (debts, living costs etc). Calculate a cost of living figure and come up with an amount that represents the weekly, monthly and annual commitment. If there is a gap between cost of living and income (wages, investment income and government entitlements) then develop a plan to plug that income deficit.
Here’s a helpful downloadable guide to take back control of your financial situation. 6-steps to Financial Security, a Free e-book from Your Money Sense. It’s a good starting point to get you in the right mindset to manage your money.