By Camille Ramdial
Printed tee shirts saying, “What’s your Superpower? I am a Single MOM!” says it all.
Being a single mom can be a very empowering yet overwhelming experience. Single mothers have increased over the years and are diverse in their age, ethnicity, and socio-economic standing. They navigate through the many issues of life, while trying to keep their children’s wellbeing a priority.
One of the major challenges single moms face is meeting the financial responsibility of providing for a child or children, in our current environment.
Having been parented by a single mom from the age of nine years old, I can empathise with single mothers “who try to make ends meet”. The question of how to provide the basics like food, shelter, clothing, and an education for their children, can be stressful, especially now with rising core inflation.
Many have also lost their jobs or have had to work from home, while still actively parenting during the Covid pandemic. Given this reality, all is not lost. Single mothers can take charge of their financial life and increase their sense of control.
Firstly, even though things may be challenging now, it is vital for single mothers to think about the SMART goals they wish to achieve for themselves, and their children. Creating a vision of your future, inspires you to be disciplined, and make good choices to achieve your goals i.e., owning property, educating your child, starting a business, saving a nest egg.
Secondly, make the best use of the money you have now and find ways to increase it. In other words, single mothers need to budget effectively! Developing multiple sources of income is critical to financial success and goal achievement.
What skill, talent, or resource do you possess that can be monetised to earn income? Can you cook, bake, sew, sing, tutor, make pepper sauce, pone? Do you have space that can be rented or used for a home-based business? This empowers single moms and removes the vulnerability of dependence on one income.
Good decision-making is fundamental in money matters for single moms. I suggest a 3 S’s approach- Share, Save and Spend to help with budgeting. Share first, means using your money to help someone via a charitable act, even if a small amount. Bless your money by giving it to those in need.
Secondly, Save at least 10 per cent of your income for it to grow in the future, in instruments like credit union shares, mutual funds, annuities. When Spending, single moms need to prioritise first on needs (food, rent, mortgage payments, utilities, transportation, education fees, expenses for children, medical) and then wants (fancy clothes, entertainment, jewelry).
Some cost savings tips to help reduce your expenses include bulk buying and sharing the cost with others, looking out for specials and discounts, cooking at home, buying secondhand books etc. Single mothers should also talk to their children about money and making good choices. Give them a budget for spending also, so they can understand the value of money, early in life.
Critical illness, health, and life insurance are fundamental to a single mom’s financial plan. She is most time the sole income earner and care giver for her children. Life insurance will ensure they are taken care of in case something happens to their mom.
Single moms should have in place adequate insurance benefits to pay off debts (mortgages, credits card, loans) and also provide for living and education expenses for their children.
Should she become sick, she will also need available funds to help her recover. Critical illness insurance protection and an appropriate health plan will assist with this issue. These financial instruments should be included in the budget, as not having this protection can be devastating, to both parent and child.
Finally, single moms should engage in effective estate planning. This will ensure their assets are protected and used for their children’s benefits, especially if they should die while their children are minors or financially dependent.
Hopefully, these tips can help single moms fulfil their role and reflect their superpower, as stated in Proverbs 31:25- “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.”
Camille Ramdial holds an MBA (Master’s degree in business administration) and MFA (Master Financial Advisor). She is the Governing Director of Camilleon Consulting Ltd and has been a facilitator with the Central Bank’s National Financial Literacy Programme for 15 years.