It’s no one’s Plan A.
But being a single mom does not mean you’re destined for the welfare line, free school lunches for your kids, or living in your parents’ basement.
The first step is to convince yourself that your new life will be one that is full, joyous and financially rich.
For some people, it can take a long time to believe.
Maybe you’ll have to fake it till you make it (as they say).
But nothing is possible unless you can see the end goal.
Love it or hate it, your finances are one of the biggest parts of your life.
Sadly, there are millions and millions of single moms out there that are not giving their finances the attention that they deserve.
It can be difficult being a single mom, but not taking the proper financial steps is going to make it a thousand times worse.
Steps to Living a Rich Single Life
1. Embrace that you are now financially independent.
Yes, you may receive child support and/or alimony. But remember this: That money could go away any time.
He could lose his job, skip town, become disabled or pass away at any moment.
You cannot control that. But you can control how much you earn.
And you can earn far more than a judge may order you be paid.
Plus: It is critical to your ability to move on emotionally in this phase of life if you are not connected to your ex and your former life through bi-weekly payments.
2. Get a grip on how much you’re spending.
I’m a big fan of Tiller, an online tool where you plug in all your bank, credit card, brokerage and mortgage accounts to get a snapshot of all your finances.
Having a budget is one of the most important things that you can do for your finances and jump-start your journey to a rich single life, but nobody wants to sit down with a spreadsheet.
Thanks to Tiller.com, making a budget has never been easier, and you can get started with a just a few clicks.
One of the best advantages of Tiller is that it syncs with all of your bank accounts and credit cards and categorized all of your transactions.
Tiller will show how much you’re spending on transportation, entertainment, and much more.
This is one of the best ways to track all of your spending and identify any areas that you’re spending too much and places that you could cut back.
3. Get a grip on how much is coming in.
Tiller is really helpful with this, and it’s important because if you don’t know how much money you’re making, then you have no idea how much you have to spend.
If you have several streams of income, it’s vital that you know how much money that you can spend every month, how much money you can save, and then how much would be left over.
4. Understand your new tax situation.
There is a huge difference in filing your taxes single compared to filing as a married person.
I don’t expect you to understand all of the tax rules, but it’s also important you understand the consequences of filing your taxes properly.
5. Check on your credit score for free.
Your credit score is probably something that you don’t think about. I like CreditSesame.
I go into the reasons why in my post here.
Let’s be honest, most people don’t spend a lot of time thinking about their score, but that could be a huge mistake.
Your credit score plays a huge role in several areas of your life.
It can be the difference in getting approved for a loan or mortgage.
It is going to also to impact the rates that you get on loans.
If you’re a renter, there is a chance that a bad credit score will get you declined for an apartment.
Also, when you apply for a job, your employer might check your credit score when you apply.
Having a poor credit score could keep you from getting the dream job or that new apartment.
6. Set some short- and long-term financial goals.
Short-term might be to pay off a credit card bill, build an emergency savings account, or make more than you spend.
Long-term include buying a home, saving for your kids’ college, or investing for retirement.
If you haven’t dipped your toes into the investment waters, you might be nervous about starting an investment portfolio.
Don’t worry, thanks to Ellevest and the other robo-advisors, it’s never been easier to reach your financial goal.
If you decide to use Betterment or Ellevest, you can get started investing in a matter of hours.
All that you have to do is create an account, set your financial goals, and answer a few simple questions.
After that, the robo-advisor will handle the rest for you.
They automatically invest your contributions based on your risk tolerance and goals.
They continue to shift your investments around the closer that you get to your goals and automatically reinvest any money that you make.
Related post: How to get started investing for women
7. Protect your family.
Life insurance is insanely affordable, easy to get, and just plain smart.
Get an estimate from HavenLife below, and read more about single moms and life insurance in this post.
Life insurance is one of the most important investments that you’ll ever make for your loved ones, especially as a single mom.
Nobody wants to think about tragedy striking their family, but not planning for the worst is one of the worst mistakes that you could make.
One reason that people don’t buy life insurance is because they assume that it’s going to be too expensive, but in most cases, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Regardless of your health or any pre-existing conditions that you have, it’s possible to get affordable life insurance to protect your family.
Get a quote from HavenLife here. They have some of the best rates in the industry:
If you are aged 50 or older, you should also look into long-term care insurance, which I explain in this post.
8. 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, the health and wellbeing of your family.
Think about how your money and life can work together.
Every person and family is different. I can’t tell you what your quality of life goals should be.
That requires some deep digging. Take some time to sit down and decide how you want to balance your money and family.
For some people, they can take on a little extra work to pay off some debts.
Other people want to spend extra time or can’t take on that additional work.
9. Decide to make more money.
Take a mentor out for lunch to learn about opportunities in your profession.
Research going back to school. Consider starting your own business.
Talk to your boss about telecommuting and other life-balance arrangements.
Thanks to the Internet, it’s never been easier to make some extra money on the side.
There are hundreds of ways that you can make more money in your spare-time without having to deliver pizzas on the weekend.
10. Go on a shopping diet.
No more trips to the mall or Amazon.com to browse.
If you are broke, shopping is not a hobby you can afford!
Make a strict list before stepping foot in Target and do not stray into the cosmetics departments for a “treat” – and I don’t care how great of a deal you find!
By making each purchase a conscious one, you will feel empowered and confident about your money.
11. Spend money in ways that will make you money.
Pay for yard service, and use that time saved to build a business.
Invest in a dishwasher and spend that extra time studying for a degree that will earn you more money.
Send out your laundry and devote those hours to fun family time.
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.
Going through a divorce can turn your whole life upside down, and it can take a long time to recover from the emotional and financial stress, but it can be done.
The tips above are just a few of the simple ways that you can take control of your finances and ensure that your own your way to a rich life as a single mom.
If you have any questions about any of the tips that I listed, or you want to share your own, please feel free to add them in the comment section below.
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Emma Johnson is a veteran money writer, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, REAL SIMPLE, Parenting, USA Today and others.
The Kickass Single Mom: Be Financially Independent, Discover Your Sexiest Self, and Raise Fabulous, Happy Children (Penguin, 2017), was a #1 bestseller and was featured in hundreds of media, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, Oprah.com and the New York Post, which named it to its ‘Must Read” list.
Her popular blog Wealthysinglemommy.com, and podcast Like a Mother, explore issues facing professional single moms: business and career, money, sex, relationships and parenting. Emma regularly comments on these topics for outlets such as CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine, Woman’s Day, The Doctors, and many more. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” one of “20 Personal Finance Influencers to Follow on Twitter” by AOL DailyFinance, “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and “Most Eligible New Yorkers” by New York Observer.
A popular speaker on gender equality, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality.
Emma grew up in Sycamore, Ill., and lives in New York City with her children.