Financial Stability For a Single Guardian, and How to Manage
If you’re a guardian, whether biological parent or appointed, you carry a large amount of responsibility. Raising children and supporting a family is an extremely challenging endeavour that’s hard enough with two parental figures, let alone one.
A major focal point of any parental guardian is the health and safety of those they look after. Part of establishing an adequate safety net around the people you care for involves finances at base level, and it’s critical to nail them down to ensure you have sufficient resources in times of need.
Below are specific ideas about how you as a single guardian can manage finances, with the goal of providing a more stable livelihood for those dependent on you. Everyone’s situation is unique, but these thoughts can be applied in principle to your individual case.
1. Focus on making your weekly budget efficient and consistent
Your weekly budget requires more attention if you’re a single guardian. Assuming that there is only one income fueling your bank account, it’s imperative that you make the effort to micromanage yourself monetarily on a daily and weekly basis. By doing this, you’ll soon develop a clearer picture of your overall financial stability. Breaking down your expenses in smaller time intervals also allows you to see any glaring or unwanted costs. If you realize you’re spending in excess within a certain area each week, it’ll be easier for you to cut down on your monthly and yearly expenses before it’s too late.
– Pay particular attention to your grocery and food costs throughout each week. Are you eating out too often? Is there a way to cook with the ingredients you already have? What about cooking for the week on Sunday night to avoid buying lunch each day?
– Set a budget that doesn’t roll over. If you set your budget at $200 a week for routine expenses, and you only spend $150, put the remainder into savings. This will train you to save resources while simultaneously developing consistency.
Reason: Your daily and weekly budget is what determines the total amount of money you put into your life. Focusing your efforts on a micro level like this can really help each year as a single parent. A clearer picture is always easier to worth with.
2. Avoid procrastination on payments and obligations
As a single parent, it’s crucial to avoid procrastination on anything related to finances. Due to the inherent nature of your position as a lone guardian, you don’t have as big of a safety net as someone in a partner team. Any accruing debt or even a late energy bill can seem cumbersome as an individual, and it’s in your best interest to understand this early on. Debt is a form of procrastination, although we all understand it’s not possible to pay for everything up front. However, the debt that is in your control needs to be taken very seriously and targeted with specific intent.
There are so many issues that can come up in life, whether they involve you or your family, which demand immediate finances. Any debt or procrastination involving money can hamper your ability to react in these unforeseen situations.
– Do everything, and I mean everything, in your power to pay off any credit card dues on time. A credit card can be your best friend (increasing credit for future stability) or your nightmare (insurmountable debt). Credit card balances are an example of debt that people often have control of. Each time you swipe that card, try and mentally envision the total you’ll be paying off in a couple weeks. Are you alright?
– Keep a physical agenda of various bills and other routine costs to help you develop a vision of where you’re going financially. This can help you avoid procrastination and increase your foundation.
Reason: Procrastination is detrimental to anyone trying to find financial stability. This holds especially true for single parents trying to balance everything by themselves.
3. Consider savings a necessity and consider the future
Everyone wants to save. Not everyone does, and that’s just a reality. However, as a single parent it has to be your top priority. Your family’s health and safety, as well as your own, rely heavily on adequate savings. The lack of a second income as security makes it vital for you to understand that on the off chance you lose your employment, you could be in trouble if you haven’t put a concerted effort toward saving.
– If you don’t have a retirement plan with your employer, you need to open up a fund. Whether it’s some sort of IRA investment fund or a savings account specifically for retirement, it’s mandatory as a single parent.
– Take out a life insurance policy that will protect you and your children through any future adversity. This type of forward thinking can literally save your children down the road. Being the sole guardian, this is a very significant option to consider.
– Write down monthly savings goals. Start with small amounts and work them upwards to whatever level your situation allows.
– Make lifestyle changes to help keep money in the account. A specific example here would be registering for a Netflix account and avoiding the movie theatre. Taking two children to a movie can easily approach $50 if snacks are part of the game plan.
Reason: You as a single parent carry the inherent obligation to consider the future earlier than those with a current partner. It’s just the way it is, but it has its positives. As you become more organized with regards to your finances, you’ll have a better sense of where you stand. This increases peace of mind.
Life is tough, and so is being a single guardian. Take your time, stay organized and be efficient with finances. From there, everything will work itself out.
Arlene Chandler writes about family finances and life cover from Suncorp.