“You’re pregnant and you are having twins.” I will never forget the doctor delivering that message to me. The first thing that came to my mind was, “What am I going to do now?” I thought that because I had quit my job a couple of months earlier to become a full-time entrepreneur. Before I left, I created a budget that would allow me, 1 person, to scrape by because I knew that I didn’t need a lot. All I needed was money for my living and transportation expenses, food, health care, the occasional happy hour with friends, and a few other necessities, to be covered. I didn’t need a lot. I didn’t even need to buy new clothes or shoes because I had plenty. I thought I had it all figured out, until that day when I learned I was having twins. I felt the panic creeping into my body, the fear, worry, the stagnation, and the pressure that comes from the question, “Now what?” and having no response. As I sat there in sheer disbelief and in the months to come, I was terrified that becoming a single mom meant financial ruin. I thought that it meant I would have to abandon all of my hopes and dreams and return to work. I thought that I would be destined to tell my children, “no” all of the time because we wouldn’t be able to afford the things that they needed. I was terrified, to say the least, but at that time I forgot one thing: that God was in control. I failed to see how things would work out, and during that time I missed seeing the power of God and I missed seeing the lessons that He was trying to teach me.
As I sit and think now, I realize that becoming a single mom can be one of the best things that could ever happen to you, and this includes financially. Before you start to cite statistics and stories of people who did and do struggle as single moms, I want to stop you. I want to stop you not because those aren’t true, but so you can consider what you will and will not accept as your personal reality. I want you to stop and consider how becoming a single mom can help you become better at how you manage your money, how you will make better financial decisions because not doing it is not an option. You have to grow, develop and make better financial decisions because your children are counting on you.
This post will show you 6 ways why becoming a single mom is one of the best things that can happen to you (even financially).
Rethink Your Spending Patterns
In the words of Tupac’s amazing classic, Keep Ya Head Up, he raps, “I’m trying to make a dollar out of fifteen cents.” I think that so many single moms can relate to the idea of doing more with less. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t get a raise when I had my twins. I’m betting that most of you weren’t able to go to your job and ask for more money because you had a child (or children). Therefore, either you had to figure out how to increase your income, or do more with the money that you currently have. Essentially, you had to make a dollar out of fifteen cents.
Being a single mom helps me learn how to:
- Buy the things that I needed based when it was on sale so I would get a bargain and save money. I almost never used coupons in the past because I thought that couponing was too hard, but I started to use them because I needed to find ways to save more money.
- Create lists to guide spending to avoid overspending and buying things that will go to waste. Being a single mom forced me to plan out my purchases more, shop with purpose, and shop with a plan because if I didn’t I would overspend.
- Say “no” to the things that don’t matter and saying “yes” more to the things that add value
- Watch my money so I avoid running out of money and not having resources for the things that I need
Less Impulse Spending
Being a single mom helped me to better prioritize and spend on the things that matter the most. I found that the holiday time was the most challenging because Toys R Us has some great sales. There were so many things that I wanted to buy for my twins because the toys or the stuff looked fun. Going in-store was even harder because the deals practically screamed out to me from the shelves and begged me to pick them up and put them in my cart. Even when I think about Amazon, I had to check myself when I would get an idea for something that I “needed” to buy for my kids and stop myself before I purchased something. I also had to get more organized, shop ahead where it made sense, and categorize the clothing based on size so I didn’t risk buying something that I didn’t need.
In addition to curbing the spending for my children, I also had to curb it for myself. I started to ask myself whether my purchases would add value or not? Would they take up space in my home and budget or would they be beneficial? They funny thing is when I started to ask myself these things, the answer was generally “no”. Don’t get me wrong, it is challenging to avoid impulse spending, but when I look at the greater purpose for what I want in life, and that I have practically adopted a clothing uniform (check out this 8 for 30 style challenge I did a couple of years ago where I wore 8 items of clothing for 30-days) it makes it a little easier to say no.
Think More About the Future
Planning for the future is one where many people in America fall short. According to GoBankingRates, one-third of Americans have no retirement savings. When you look at Americans who have less than $10,000 saved for retirement that number increases to 56%. When you look specifically at women, 63% of women surveyed said they either have no money for retirement or less than $10,000 saved. According to the Time Money article, part of the reason that women lag behind men is because of the gender pay gap, where women still earn about $0.79 for every $1 that a man earns. I would also argue that the saving results for single moms are worse because of an increase in financial responsibility. However, I would argue that it doesn’t have to be that way. Not only does it not have to, I would say that it is essential that it is not. I think that we need to make sure that we are adequately managing our money, watching our spending, and increasing income when necessary to ensure that we meet our financial obligations and also prepare ourselves for retirement. Although it seems like it is far away and the needs of today are so important, it is essential to not forget that if we don’t want to work forever, then we need to start saving for today.
Scripture tells us in Proverbs 6:6-8, “Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in the summer and gathers her food in harvest.” It may be difficult with other expenses to save for the future, but it is essential to do, and it is something that in making a dollar out of 15 cents, as single moms we just figure it out.
Prepare For The Unexpected
One of the other financial benefits is that it forces you to think about the unexpected. The thing about single-motherhood is that we know just how much our children rely on us, so just as we need to be prepared for the future we need to be prepared for the unexpected even if we don’t like the thought of the unexpected. For example, given that we are raising children on one income we need to build an emergency fund to ensure that we can cover our bills, children’s needs, and household expenses if a financial tragedy occurred. If you need ideas on how to cut your expenses drastically and be prepared for a tragedy then check out the post, “Anything Can Happen: How to Make Sure You Are Ready for Tragedy Financially”. Also, check out the book, 5+5 FNPhenomenal Ways To Save $100 This Week Without Killing Your Lifestyle, to also get ideas to cut costs without being overwhelming. Getting prepared in case of financial emergency will help you sleep better at night knowing that your family is protected.
Additionally, being a single mother will encourage you to think about life insurance and estate planning needs. No one wants to think about these things, but one thing that being a single mom will do is to make you think about how you can make sure that your children are protected and provided for even if you are not here to do it. It helps to avoid putting your family, children, and friends in a situation where they have to set up Go Fund Me pages to raise money to pay for expenses and survive. It’s harsh and uncomfortable to think about, but preparing for the unexpected is essential to having healthy finances and is, unfortunately, something that many people overlook. If you need more help in this area then check out the post, Why Single Moms Need a Solid Estate Plan.
Become a Good Money Role Model
Proverbs 22:6 (NLT) commands us to, “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” I think that most parents know that their role is to provide their children with a good moral and educational foundation, but at times I wonder if they are aware that they should also provide their children with a good example of how to manage money. Money management is a critical skill that is not only neglected in most schools, but it is also not taught in many households across America. Many children learn how to manage money by watching how their parents manage money. I want you to pause for a second and ask yourself, “Do I want my children to follow in my financial footsteps?” That question is meant to be harsh and it is a question that I constantly have to ask myself, not just in money but also in all of the ways that I live my life. Children learn less from what we say and more from what we do.
Although I teach personal finance and run a blog that is focused on financial education, I always have to evaluate how I am managing my own finances to make sure that I am being authentic with my readers. However, ensuring that I am being authentic for my children is an entirely different level of responsibility. I’ve noticed that I’m more conscious about my purchases, the money messages that I tell myself, and the intentions that I create for my family. I notice that my financial slip-ups (Don’t judge me! I’m human!) are shorter in duration and I’m more methodical about what I buy because I am cognizant that my children are watching.
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16
Stop Feeding My Ego
I didn’t realize how much I spent on things that were designed to impress other people or assuage my own vanity and ego. I didn’t realize how often when I purchased something, I secretly wondered what other people would think and how many compliments I would get and the purchase was designed to validate my self-worth. However, since becoming a single mom, these vanity purchases weren’t a financial responsibility for me. I couldn’t put my family in a position to have less because I wanted something that wouldn’t add value to the household.
Another area of spending to feed me ego is what I do for my children. I had to stop myself from looking at what other moms do, including the type of birthday parties that they throw for their children, and subconsciously and unintentionally decide that I have to do something similar. I also had to stop comparing my life as a single mom and thinking that I needed to go above and beyond to prove that my children won’t miss out on anything. Instead of proving my worth through stuff, I had to increase reliance on God and learn who I am in the eyes of God. (Un)Qualified by Steven Furtick is a great book to read on this subject. Learning who I am as a person and understanding my true worth was very liberating because it allowed me to make better financial decisions and live more authentically.
I think that being a single mom has a lot of potential to be one of the best things that can ever happen to you and your finances. There are so many opportunities to learn and to grow that you might have been missed if you weren’t in the position where you had to make a change. Because of this, you have an amazing opportunity to live a better life and to create a better future for your children. I urge you to seize the moment, make the change and create a new financial legacy for your children.
Leave a comment in the Phenomenal Moms Facebook Group to let me know how this helps you!
Aisha Taylor is a single mom of twins, personal financial coach, work from home entrepreneur, and #1 Amazon Best Selling Author of the book “5+5 FNPhenomenal Ways to Save $100 This Week Without Killing Your Lifestyle.” Aisha has been featured in ESSENCE, Jet Magazine, and Black Enterprise. She is also the Founder of FNPhenomenal (Frugal –n- Phenomenal), a movement designed to help single moms create a vision for their lives, craft a financial strategy to support that vision, and show them that phenomenal living is possible. It’s time for you to be Financially Phenomenal!