Earlier this month, I found myself at the library without children. This is a rare occurrence. At this point in life, my only trips to the library are to escape dreaded rainy days with the kids to give them an outlet for their energy. Besides, between work and the girls, there just isn’t time to read. Hence, no reason for me to be at a library. But, I have a goal this year, and it is to begin investing. Sure, I have a 529 for the girls and a 401k and IRA for myself, but if I am going to retire early (which is the plan!), I’m going to need to enter the scary world of investing.
So off I went on a quest to find a book that would help me learn enough about personal finance and investing to be comfortable that I am doing the right thing. I know a lot about money management and how to make a dollar work for you. I amortize absolutely everything. I am frugal to a fault. But, I needed some reassurance when it came to investing. So I headed out into the money management section with reference numbers of books I wanted to find in hand. I found the one that I wanted. A simple, clear introduction to personal finance. Next to it though, I spotted a book that caught my attention, Head of Household. I thought, Hey that’s me! Then I read further: “Money management for single parents.” Ugh. My eyes rolled. I am not a fan of self-help books. You won’t find me checking out any books to help manage my emotions or any type of interpersonal relationships. This title was way too close to that for me.
But, due to some quick decision making (I was on a short time frame due to lunch-hour constrictions), I decided to pick it up anyway. This author thought she’d have something to tell me about single parent money management? I’d let her try. I vowed to myself that at the first mention of welfare or child support, I was out.
Trying to hold skepticism at bay, I opened the book up to its introduction and instantly fell in love. The author, Kara Stefan, clearly begins with the heart of money management, which is our value system, and speaks to it from a single parent perspective. What do we want our kids to value? The way that we spend our money should reflect that. Yes! I wanted to scream out. Yes! Oh, be still my frugal heart.
It goes on to talk about what is great about single life. What does this have to do with money management? Everything. As single parents, we need to examine what is great about our lives (because most of it is awesome) and remove those negative boundaries we can sometimes set up for ourselves. Adjusting our mindset will allow us to look past the boundaries and be happy with what we have. Why? Because this allows us to realistically and proactively look at financial matters. I don’t think I am any worse of a parent because I am a single mom. I don’t think reaching my financial goals is impossible because I am a single mom. The two mindsets are synonymous.
“One of the rewards of single parenting is that it’s easier to teach the value of money to your children. If you embrace this reality instead of resist it, our financial education — and your peace of mind — will come more easily” (p. 7).
The first financial health aspect to be examined in the book: budget. Where everyone needs to start. It is the basis of where our money goes and it needs to be planned out. Stefan walks through the budgeting process from start to finish in a manner that makes sense. Her advice is both practical and flexible. Just as our married counterparts, each single mom is in a different financial situation. Stefan does not tailor her advice to either end of the spectrum — she makes it accessible for all income levels. Financial advice should apply to all income levels. The time it will take to accomplish your goals is the only variable.This is the only #singlemom resource you should ever need. #singlemomlife #moneymanagement… Click To Tweet
- Child care
Each of these topics is explored with a positive realism and parental humor. It isn’t dumbed down. It isn’t adjusted. It is communicated in a way that makes sense and is easy to digest. It provides examples from a single mom’s perspective that is reflective of our actual lifestyle. We love our kids, we love our life — and we will accomplish our goals.
“Children, ah children. Those money siphons of need and greed” (p. 110).
If you ever find yourself at the library without kids, you need some affirmation that you have all of your financial bases covered, or you need to take a serious look at your financial health in order to make adjustments, check out this book first. You won’t regret it.
Follow Kara Stefan on twitter! @writerfinance
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