Today we have an amazing guest post by the fantastic Francesca over at FromPenniestoPounds and what the girl doesn’t know about being savvy with money just isn’t worth knowing so ALL THE SINGLE LADIES listen up!
As a newly single mum, I know how it can feel in regards to your finances when you suddenly find yourself in this situation. Regardless of whether you were the instigator of the relationship breakup or not, it can still be quite worrying when you realise that you now solely responsible for the entire household expenses.
I wasn’t as worried as I could have been, as I took the decision to get on top of my finances and pay off the debt that felt like it was sucking the life out of me! I learned how to budget with my favourite budget method, paid off my debt and started working towards the future. Thanks to this, I wasn’t that anxious when the relationship breakdown happened, and I know full well that it would have been a million times worse if it had happened a couple of years or so ago when my finances and self-esteem were at an all time low.
Many couples tend to have one person who is in charge of the finances – usually the breadwinner – and when a relationship breakup happens, the person who was left out of the money side of things, is the person who will suffer the most. I don’t want this to happen to you – so I hope that the following tips will be able to show you the best things to do, and help you on your new journey.
Create a Budget
I am a big fan of budgeting, and to be honest I’m pretty obsessed with mine! Budgeting is, in my opinion, the most important part of managing your finances. The reason I say this is because you need to clearly see the money that is coming in, and the money that is going out.
Creating a budget is more simple than it probably sounds, and won’t take much time to do at all. It is personal to you – and you can change it however you wish. When some people hear the word “budget” they immediately raise their guard because it is often associated with having no money. If someone isn’t able to buy something, they will usually say that they are “on a tight budget”.
To start off the budget, you will need to write down all of your income – that’s your salary (after tax), any benefits that you receive, any other income that you have coming in. Don’t guess this either – take a look at your previous payslips and bank statements to get the accurate numbers. If you have an income which varies month to month, you can either go by what you have earned in that same month in the previous year, or estimate your minimum wage that you could get (I would be more likely to go with this one myself).
Once you have your income all sorted, you need to find out what is going out of your account – start with the important bills. Go through your bank statements or internet banking and find your direct debits for things like your mortgage or rent, electricity, water, council tax etc. These are all generally fixed expenses and will most likely come out on the same date every month, for the same amount of money each time.
The next step is finding out what your unfixed expenses tally up to – such as your grocery shopping. It is important to not take a wild guess at how much you spend – because if you have not been budgeting or tracking your spending, you could be way off the mark with your guess. Here again is where you can go back through last months bank statements (and previous months if you want a fair assessment!) and highlight the transactions which are for each category e.g. food, petrol, entertainment.
Hopefully now you will be left with your budget! Your budget will show you how much money you have left after your expenses are taken out of your income. You may be shocked at how little there is – but don’t worry, you can work on reducing the expenses through ways such as cancelling unused memberships, cutting down on your TV package, reducing your food shopping bill, meal planning, batch cooking and more.
If you have money left over in your budget after this, this is to be used for personal goals, such as an emergency fund (see below), sinking funds for things like car repairs, kids birthdays, Christmas, school uniform and so on (all of these will happen, so it’s best to be prepared!), saving up for a house deposit, saving for retirement, and so on – your goals are up to you!
Save Up An Emergency Fund
As mentioned above, an emergency fund is something that you can save up for, and is pretty important – I’m a big advocate of the humble emergency fund, and I think it is often overlooked as a key component to financial success.
What tends to happen, is that you have the best intentions of saving your money, and you even start to actually save some and are feeling really confident and proud of yourself. Unfortunately though, life likes to throw a curveball, and something will crop up that you have to use the money for. Examples could be the car breaking down, the washing machine deciding to give up, getting a bad virus and being unable to work for a bit, and so on.
Things do crop up all the time, and if you really don’t have the money to pay for them, you may have to turn to taking out a loan or putting it on the credit card – which we definitely don’t want to happen!
Now just to be clear, an emergency fund is for an actual emergency – something that you cannot plan for. I don’t mean things like Christmas – which happens at the same time every year – or something is on sale that you reallyyyy want. You can save up for those things separately – the emergency fund is for real emergencies only!
Find extra work
Something that I found life-changing for me, was finding extra ways to make more money. Hopefully, by being on The Money Shed right now, you are looking at ways to earn extra money already!
There are loads of different things that you can do – some are really easy, some require a bit more work. It’s down to you to choose which things you want to do, and it does help when you find things that you genuinely enjoy doing. Some ideas include:
- Finding an extra job. There are all kinds of shifts available in shops, warehouses, cleaning companies etc. Print out your CV and go around the local shops, get on job sites and have a look what is out there. Don’t just go off the hours listed either – I got to choose my own hours in the part time job that I have, but they didn’t say that in the advert.
- Matched betting. The Money Shed will show you the best ways to start doing this! I also have a blog post about it on my site.
- Mystery shopping. Again, you should be able to find some good resources and info on here, but mystery shopping in case you aren’t sure of what it is, is basically where a company pays you to use their service (such as ordering food in a restaurant), or checking their store is ok (such as checking the shelves for a particular item).
- Entering surveys. There are loads of different survey sites out there, and some of them pay really well and are available often. A lot of people make a few hundred extra per month from doing this casually.
When I looked into earning extra money, I already had a job that I did from home in the evenings when my daughter was asleep, but I was very lucky with that because I was approached to do it. I then started doing entering surveys, mystery shopping, matched betting, and I now also do dog boarding and blogging.
Cut back on your expenses as much as you can, but earning extra money will make achieving your goals so much easier and give you some breathing room. Earning extra money has made huge changes to my life – but things that other people may take for granted, such as having a car or being able to buy my daughter presents for Christmas without stressing.
Depend on yourself
Scary as it may sounds, your finances are now down to you. You are now financially independent for yourself and your family, and they need you to be on top of your game.
Don’t rely on the money that your ex says he will give you – even if it has gone through the courts – because it’s not 100% certain that this will happen every month, as shocking as that may sound. You can, of course, keep the money that you are given, but don’t rely on it as a source of income every month. I hear time and time again of when the payments stop coming through and it’s a source of huge worry and stress.
Same with benefits – changes happen all of the time to the benefits system, and they should not be counted on as a guaranteed income. Would you be ok if your benefits were stopped now? If the answer is no, an extra job or way of earning extra money could be a lifesaver.
It is hard, and exhausting – but just remember that you are a brilliant example to your kids and them seeing you working hard and doing your best will pay off for them in the future. You can teach them that they don’t need to rely on anyone else – that even in difficult circumstances you can change the course of the future for the better.
Set Yourself Some Goals
Setting goals is SO important – not just for your finances but life in general as well. It can be easy to struggle through life, because you are doing the same thing over and over, and time passes by really quickly. Making time to sit down with a notebook to write down actual, amazing goals will be one of the best things that you can do.
Remember that they are personal to you – you can have a goal of whatever you could possibly wish! It’s proven that writing down goals makes you hugely more likely to achieve them – so grab that pen and paper now!
Think of your dream life. Think of the things that would make life easier for you. They can be big goals – they can be small goals – they can be a combination of the two!
Examples could be:
- Earning an extra £100 a month to ease your stress
- Paying off your debt
- Regular holidays
- Buying a car
- Buying a house
- Moving house to a better area
- Doing up your house
- Starting your own business
- Travelling the world
After you have written down your goals, it’s time to make a plan of action. There’s no point daydreaming about them if you aren’t going to go ahead and make them a reality! Just because you are a single parent now, that doesn’t mean that you can’t create an amazing little world for you and your family.