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29 Nov Financial Planning for Single Parents

It’s one of the hardest jobs you will ever do, and you may never actually get any true credit for it: single parenting. Since the 1960s, there has been a clear jump in the number of children living in a single-parent home. According to the United States Census Bureau, between 1960 and 2016, the amount of children living in with two parents decreased from 88% to 69%. It is reported that this was caused by an increase of births to unmarried women and an increase in divorces among couples. In 2010 alone, 40.7% of all births in the U.S. were to unmarried women. The latest Census data shows that approximately 26% of children live in single-parent households today.

If you have never lived in a single-parent home, or have never been a single parent, you probably have no idea of the struggles that come along with raising children on your own. There is much more to it than just fulfilling the roles of mother and father. For single parents, there are huge financial differences and requirements, which means there are also different financial solutions.

Here we will discuss the top nine most important financial planning steps every single parent should take:

1. Take care of estate planning.

One of the most important things you can do for your young children is to decide who will be their legal guardian, if ever something happens to you. Think of someone you trust, who is willing to seek professional help, and who knows your children and who your children know. Try to only consider those your age or younger, as those older than you may not be around if your children need someone in your absence.

It is advised that you choose an executor who has some knowledge of finances and is well organized, since they will need to make sure fees are paid and to put your assets where they are supposed to be. 

2. Always have health insurance.

For the uninsured, medical costs can be crippling. If you have children, you know they’re prone to getting hurt. Be sure to always have health insurance in order to avoid putting yourself in a pile of debt that you won’t be able to climb out of. Health insurance isn’t cheap, but it’s a much better payment plan than what would come after an uninsured medical procedure.

3. Purchase life insurance. 

After health insurance, purchasing life insurance is your next important step. What kind of plan you purchase really depends on the size of your family, lifestyle, and finances. No matter what kind of policy you invest in, make sure it will at least get your children through high school. To determine your life insurance needs, you should calculate what you want the coverage to do. It's common to seek coverage for living expenses, paying off a mortgage if you have one, and sometimes even paying for college for those who can afford higher annual costs.

4. Get disability insurance.

Your income is your most important financial asset when it comes to raising children. Therefore, disability insurance should be a priority for single parents, due to the fact that they don’t have a second income to cover them if they become disabled and cannot work. Check with your employer to see if they cover the benefit before you go purchasing your own. 

Generally, you will get a reduced income amount when you file for disability insurance – anywhere between 50% and 70% of your total salary. Disability policies come in two durations – short-term and long-term – depending on whether the disability will last weeks or years.

5. Plan for your lifestyle.

Being a single parent sometimes means you don’t have time to sit down every month to go over your finances, and that’s ok. This is where a lifestyle plan comes in. To begin planning your lifestyle, you need to know how much you’re spending now and how much you’re likely to spend in the future. Compare that to how much you’re making now, and how much you expect to be making in the future. Attempt to separate your funds into categories – one that covers your fixed monthly expenses, one that covers long-term expenses, one for emergencies, and even one for fun.

6. Have a savings account – with enough money in it to provide a safety net!

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Bad things happen, and when they do, it’s best to have a safety net. Even if it’s only a few hundred dollars, you may need it some day and you will be thankful it’s there.

7. Only save for college if you can.

Although this may not be what everyone wants to hear, it's the truth – if it comes down to you only being able to save for your retirement and not your children’s college tuitions, you must put yourself first. While it is wonderful and quite honorable to be able to send your children to college, your primary goal should be to secure your financial future. Your children will be able to get grants, scholarships, and loans. Will you be able to take out a loan just so you can put food on the table every night? Probably not.

8. Save for retirement.

No matter how much money you do or don’t have, it is incredibly important that you save for retirement. Even if it’s just $10 a month, it will add up and you will thank yourself in the future. Also, consider the fact that if your spouse died, you may be entitled to their retirement fund. This is the case with many divorces too, as you may be able to split retirement funds.

9. Have emergency fun backup money.

This may sound silly after discussing such serious financial topics, but fun is important too! Whenever you get the chance, set some cash to the side for fun adventures with your kids. $5 today, $2 tomorrow – it’ll add up soon enough!

In the end, all you can do is what you can do. If you don’t have the money to spend, you can’t spend it. That is why it’s so important to start saving as early as you can. This can make possible future struggles a little more manageable. One thing to never forget is that you can always ask for help. There are many free finance classes you can take and informative articles you can find online. Even some professional financial advisors do not charge for an initial consultation. Whatever the case may be, keep your eyes on the prize: a manageable financial future for you and your beloved children. 

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