It’s the most difficult part of being a single parent: finances. Somehow it doesn’t seem to matter how much you earn in your career. Whether you have a high-level corporate job making 6 figures per year, or work 3 jobs at minimum wage – it’s tough.
If you’re just beginning the process of becoming a single mom or if you’ve been a single mother for some time and find your financial situation changing, it can be tricky. After all, one of the great things about being a Strong Single Mom is not having anyone else around to tell you what you can and cannot do. Of course, that’s one of the downfalls of being a Strong Single Mom, too.
And let’s face it…if you’re going through a divorce, mourning the death of your spouse, or you find yourself with an unexpected pregnancy out of wedlock, you’re emotionally unstable. It doesn’t matter if the circumstances are positive or negative. This kind of life change is wrought with emotional ups and downs. It also doesn’t matter what you do for a living, how highly educated you may be, or how intelligent you are. When it comes to managing your money through an emotionally charged time in your life, it’s almost impossible to do it with balance and foresight while being pragmatic.
I’m sure there are a few women out there who can somehow manage to do so, and if you ARE one of those women I truly celebrate you! But you’re the exception, not the rule.
Here’s the thing – I’m writing this from personal experience.
At the time of my divorce, I was a mid-level marketing executive with a Fortune 150 company. My ex-husband and I owned a home with lots of equity. We had investments. We had stocks. We certainly weren’t rolling in the lap of luxury, but we had a nice little next egg. All of which meant I had a nice little settlement coming my way, plus a good career that paid well.
I was educated, successful, and my divorce was a truly positive step in the right direction. I became a better parent, a better friend, a better professional, a better woman all the way around. I even started running with a goal to run my first marathon. You would think I would have been able to handle the money situation.
As the divorce went through and the settlements came in, I was an emotional ticking time bomb. On the nights when my children were with their dad were the worst. My girls were 5 and 3 years old when it all went down, and I found it devastating to be away from my babies for any length of time. The emotional upheaval added with the fact that I had no one around to weigh in on my choices proved to be too much. I made unwise decisions, thinking they were good choices at the time.
All in all, I wish – I REALLY wish – that someone would have told me the following:
- SAVE YOUR SETTLEMENT MONEY. You have a long road ahead of you, and hey…the economic factors that dictate your life may change! (Um, hello! Anyone else remember 2007??)
- YOU CAN’T THINK STRAIGHT. Seriously. You feel like you’re heading away from a bad situation and into something better. And hey…you probably are! But there’s a HUGE shift happening, and anytime there’s a huge shift there is BOUND to be some confusion. You’re in the middle of a learning curve.
- HIRE A FINANCIAL PLANNER!!!! (Please refer to the first two points. Those two things alone add up to this one piece of advice.) And yeah, I know – you may be reading this thinking “But I have nothing for them to PLAN!” It doesn’t matter. Find one anyway. Because if NOTHING else, a financial planner can help you with the next point:
- GET LIFE INSURANCE. Seriously. This is SO important. We don’t like to believe that anything is going to happen to us. But if there’s anything that is 100% certain in this life it is that we will eventually die. So you MUST think about providing for your kiddos in case you check out early. Even if you don’t have money for extras – even if you’re working 3 jobs and barely getting by – it doesn’t matter. A “term” life insurance policy can be as low as $25/month. Now…I’m not an expert in life insurance, so you’ll have to find a financial planner to help you figure out the exact amount. But seriously, if you have to cut out Starbucks, or eat ramen noodles for lunch, whatever it takes…find the money to get a life insurance policy.
We’ll be putting on a webinar to help Single Moms Manage Their Money soon. Stay tuned for information on that. In the meantime, I encourage you to ask around for referrals for a good Financial Planner. Know of one? Send them our way! We need some great Financial Planners for our Strong Single Mom Network Resource Directory.
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