Money Coach and single parent Natalye-Marrie Boyce gives us eight things to think about when you’re working toward financial success as a single parent.
Mastering financial success as a single parent can be challenging. And not because we lack the skill and know-how but because we’re already trying to overcome so much in this world such as an unsupportive society and government.
However, knowing that I still believe we are creators of our reality. That doesn’t mean that as a single parent, I’m not affected by the same issues that you experience because of the system, but I’ve chosen to surrender to the issues and turn my focus solely on myself and that is the way I’ve chosen to fight back.
Because of this shift in mindset, I built a 6 figure net worth using the tips I’ve outlined below. I hope these tips are as effective for you as they continue to be for me!
Universal credit is a monthly payment from the UK government that was introduced in 2013. It was designed to simplify the benefits system by replacing six previous benefits, including housing benefit and jobseeker's allowance, with a single payment. The idea behind universal credit is to make it easier for people to manage their finances and encourage them to find work or increase their hours if they are already working. Of course, many parents know that with rising childcare costs, this isn’t always possible.
Universal credit is available to people with low incomes who need help covering their living costs. This includes single parents who are over 18 and have a low income or are out of work. You may also be eligible if you are working but need additional support to cover your bills. The amount of universal credit you receive will depend on your individual circumstances, such as your income, savings, and housing costs.
One of the benefits of universal credit is that it is designed to be a more flexible system than the previous benefits it replaced. For example, if you are working and your income increases, your universal credit payment will be adjusted to reflect this.
Having financial success as a single parent starts with building your foundation by creating and implementing your budget. Start by writing down your income including any benefits you may receive and all your expenses.
Categorise your expenses as fixed and variables. Examples of fixed expenses are things like your rent/mortgage, insurance, phone and car payments. Variable expenses are items such as groceries, entertainment, gas and electricity, clothing and takeaways. Once you’ve listed your expenditure, you’re now ready to implement your budget and track your expenses daily. This will keep you accountable and make you aware of any unnecessary spending.
I know right now during the cost of living crisis that trying to reduce expenses can be a difficult task, however making a few adjustments in your expenses can create breathing space within your finances. These adjustments can look like, not renewing your phone contract when it is up. If the phone is still working perfectly, then switch over to a sim only plan. Cutting back on takeaways and dining out. Looking over your subscriptions and eliminating the ones you do not use or need.
Your emergency fund is there to help you deal with any unexpected and or emergency expenses such as job losses, home appliances breaking down etc. Your emergency fund is your safety net. The rule of thumb is to have 3-6 months of expenses saved in your emergency fund. Now this figure may seem huge but to not feel overwhelmed create a plan to save consistently into this fund every time you get paid. Slow and steady wins the race.
As single parents, a lot of us only have one income so it's important to research the type of financial support you’re entitled to. Doing this will help lift some of the financial burdens of being a single parent and help you achieve some of your goals maximising the resources you currently have. This can be child maintenance, universal credit or maybe you’re a carer and are entitled to a carer's allowance. The best way to find out what you’re entitled to is by using a benefit calculator. You can find various ones on the Gov.uk website.
If you have debts, especially high-interest ones such as credit cards, overdrafts, store cards and payday loans, these should be focused on first. As well as paying them off, you can contact the creditors and request to get the interest reduced or refunded. Make sure these requests are done in writing so that you have them recorded. You can even create payment plans with the creditors and advise them of what you can afford to pay.
As single parents, we are all too aware of the limited time we have and so sometimes increasing an income by doing a side hustle is not always feasible. So one of the ways you can increase your income is by upskilling. You’ll upskill within your current career path. This may look like requesting training from your employer or requesting them to pay for you to study a qualification relevant to your job role.For example, when I was employed as an accountant, I requested for my employers to pay for training for me to attend an Excel course and they also paid for my accounting qualifications too. Because they paid for my studies, I did take a drop in salary but once I qualified I could negotiate better salaries with other potential employers. This increased my value in the job market. The mindset here is to look long term rather than short term.
Goals and the why behind the goals are important. Having goals gives you a sense of direction and will (sometimes) keep you motivated on your financial journey. Your short-term goals can include things such as but are not limited to being debt free, learning how to budget, building an emergency fund, living below your means and increasing your income either by upskilling or creating a side hustle. Your long-term goals can include things such as but are not limited to investments in businesses and on the stock market, saving for your children’s future, buying a house and building a pension pot. Whatever your goals are, draw up a plan for each only work on one at a time. You’ll want to break each of these goals down into small tasks to eliminate feeling overwhelmed. Reverse engineering a goal is a good way to do this. Remember, slow and steady always wins the race.
Transparency is very important so I'm just going to be honest here. I know a lot of people will talk about motivation as the reason they stayed on their journey to achieving their goals but it's a commitment because motivation does not last. It’ll give you maybe a couple of weeks at most of the great energy and then it will fade away. This is why the whys surrounding your goals are essential. Your whys will keep you committed. I had a client who just wanted to be able to pay her rent with her income instead of always going into her savings. This was enough for her to increase her earnings. Her goal was to increase her salary and her why was so that she was able to pay her rent. Surrounding yourself with people who are like-minded and are working towards similar goals or have achieved the goals you want to achieve is important. Seeing others being committed to their goals will encourage you to stay committed to your own. You can do this by joining memberships, Facebook groups and or creating your accountability group. But at the end of the day, someone who is truly committed will reach their goal no matter what. Even if they have to do it alone.
Financial success as a single parent requires commitment, patience, resilience, consistency and persistence. You’ll need to be proactive on this journey, open-minded and creative (thinking outside the box or knowing the box never existed). With the right knowledge and careful planning, you’ll reach financial success to create a better future for you and your family.
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