Money & The Single Parent
Some days you may feel alone, but you aren’t. There are literally millions more single parents like you. According to the 2010 Census, 16.4 percent of American households have just one parent. There are 12.9 million single-parent households run by women and 4.39 million run by men. That’s not exactly comforting information, but it’s evidence that there are other people like you–probably just down the street.
Still, we realize that your situation is unique. You may be divorced, separated or widowed, or you simply may have chosen not to marry. You may be just starting out in life or you may be well on your way to retirement. You may have lots of financial resources or you may have few, if any. The circumstances differ widely, but you all have one thing in common: You have yourself to rely on financially.
It’s not always easy–sometimes it can be pretty hard–especially if you’ve been recently widowed or divorced. The first piece of advice we’ll offer is to give yourself time to get past the tidal wave of emotions you may be feeling now like grief, shock, sadness, anger, guilt, denial and depression. You may be feeling none of these emotions, but it’s likely that you’re feeling some. Be very cautious about making dramatic financial decisions in the heat of the moment. Give time a chance to work in your favor.
This is not to say you should ignore necessary decisions. Keep paying your bills and be sure your insurance policies are up to date. If you haven’t done so already, you’ll also want to close your joint bank and credit card accounts and open new ones in your name only. For some, staying busy is therapeutic.
If you have a large sum of money to deal with (an insurance settlement, for example), don’t be too hasty. Consider investing it in an account where your money will earn interest but also be available if you want or need it, such as a Treasury bill or a short-term CD. When you’re ready, you can make other plans for your money with the certainty that you’re thinking straight.
What You Should And Shouldn’t Discuss With Your Kids
You say you have money problems? So do lots of people. What should you tell your kids when they ask about those problems? Tell them the truth. Not down to dollars and cents. They don’t want to know those kinds of details, and they won’t understand them. Communicating with your kids honestly about your money can be a good way to start teaching them about money.
One thing kids often wonder about is their (and your) financial future. They may have a deep-seated fear of what will happen if you’re gone. Talk to them in detail about the way you’ve planned for the future–your insurance, your will, your investments. This kind of information is reassuring, and it teaches your kids that planning for the future is essential. Of course, it’s hard to explain coulda, shoulda and woulda, so you’ll need to act on what you learn here.