Is there anyone more resilient and adaptive than a single parent? No matter what hardships they face, they take them head-on for the sake of their children’s futures. If you don’t have your own children, that doesn’t mean you can’t learn some solid financial lessons from single parents. Here are five critical lessons we’ve found single parents learn that help their family flourish no matter the circumstances.
1. Debt is always an emergency
When you’re relying on a single income, dealing with debt is incredibly stressful because losing that income source can destroy your finances and limit your options. If you’re in debt, then it’s time to start planning how you’ll get out of it as quickly as possible. One way is to use a debt consolidation loan to help lower the number of payments and the total amount of interest you’ll pay. Or, find a 0% promotional APR credit card to give you some breathing room. Whatever method you use to pay it off, you’ll need to stop seeing debt as an everyday nuisance and more as the financial emergency it is.
2. Saving money should always be a priority
Like getting rid of debt, when you’re relying on a single or small income, you need to prioritize planning for the worst should something happen. Having an emergency fund available for those times you’re coming up short will ensure you’re never scrambling for money or needing to use credit cards to keep you afloat. The amount of money you need in an emergency fund depends on your comfort level. Experts say you should have anywhere from six months to one year’s worth of bills. If that seems too overwhelming, start with a goal of $1,000 and go from there.
3. Opt for budget-friendly over trendy every time
How often did your parents tell you that you couldn’t have a specific hot item? Everyone has a story of wanting the toy of the season but instead getting something that their parents thought was “close enough.” The truth is that the “close enough” item may have been the best choice your parents could have made. Trendy items are typically expensive due to their high demand and tend to quickly fizzle out in popularity, getting replaced by the next must-have toy, shoe, purse, jeans, etc. Don’t get caught up in the hype since you’ll only be paying for the label. Instead, opt for budget-friendly, quality items that last longer than any on-trend item ever could.
4. Use available resources whenever you can
Single parents are the champions of creative thinking, using any resources to make ends meet. Take a tip out of the Single Parent Playbook and look around for untapped resources that could make your money stretch a little bit further. Don’t neglect to reach out to your neighbors and loved ones for a bit of help or to look into government programs and food banks. You’d be surprised at the resources available in your social circle for things like hand-me-down clothing and furniture, play dates and babysitting, group-buying programs to help save money on essentials, and more.
5. Protecting your family is non-negotiable
Single parents know that their family relies on them, and losing that parent could be disastrous. Because of this, many parents will not only play it safe in their everyday lives but plan for the worst-case scenario to ensure their families are always financially taken care of. Set up safeguards like life insurance, long-term disability, and a will so that your children or loved ones are never caught in financial turmoil should something tragic happen.
The bottom line
Single parents are resilient people who think creatively and plan ahead. Use any of these five lessons as a way to secure your own financial health even if you don’t have children, and you’ll be well on your way towards a stable financial situation.