By Sydney Sekese, CFP® professional and FPI 2016 Media Award Winner
“Mmangwana o tshwara thipa ka bogaleng”, this is a Sepedi idiom that loosely translates to that a mother would go to any length in protecting her children. When you’re young, Mother’s Day is pretty simple: Just put together a handmade card, make Mom a quick breakfast and spend the day with her doing activities that are fun for both of you. As you grow older, though, it gets a little trickier. There’s a strong desire to show your love on Mother’s Day, but a nice gift is often expensive and can add to your own financial worries.
Mom’s softer approach to money lessons probably stems from motherly wisdom in many areas. Life lessons like “don’t be late” and “practice, practice, practice” and “don’t be afraid to ask for help” and many others have direct application to the money world. After all, it’s wise advice indeed to never make a late payment and to seek advice on complicated money matters.
There appears to be no advice for would-be and new mothers. Well-meaning tips on which doctor to visit, what to eat, the medication to take and how to exercise pour in from all quarters. However, there is one aspect even the closest person is hesitant to touch upon—the financial challenges associated with this phase of life. I have not been a mother before but I suspect motherhood is no child’s play and mothers across life-stages need to take charge of their finances to ensure a smooth journey. It is recommended that financial planning should precede family planning.
For example; mothers-to-be are encouraged to determine the amount they need in their kitty after analysing future expenses. It is wise to sort expenses on a need, want and desire basis. For example visits to the doctor, medical tests, a tailored diet and the main C-section procedure can be classified under the need basket. The next set of expenses, the wants, include such things as hiring a domestic help post-delivery and enrolling the child in various activities and classes.
And what about single moms? How do single moms survive financially? Single moms’ challenges are varied and include having to adapt to a drop in income, a compromised lifestyle and even a change in house or neighbourhood. Single moms have to combine the roles of two people to raise the children and run the house. More time needs to be spent to prioritise financial needs. If they have children, single moms should sit down with them and agree on how to cut on some of the luxuries so that they don’t strain so much on the household budget. The faster the family accept their situation and adjust, the better is will be for the single mom and her children. This experience need not be an overwhelming one.
As a single mom you can live a successful life by adopting the following financial tips:
- Embrace that you are now financially independent.
- Let go of assumptions about what is possible as a single mom.
- Get a grip on how much you’re spending.
- Get a grip on how much is money coming in.
- Understand your new tax situation.
- Check on your credit score for free on an annual basis.
Mothers are known to have an incredible gift of multitasking. They need to find time, desire and energy to determine what they are doing wrong or right with their money. Anything to do with money should never take a backseat.