While becoming financially independent is a crucial aspect of adulthood for everyone, it is especially important for single women. Single women, whether due to choice or circumstance, are breaking the mold and carving their seats at the tables of financial independence. However, the road to financial empowerment isn't always without its rough patches, and that's okay.
Establishing a strong financial foundation not only brings financial independence but also paves the way for life's next big steps, whether that involves pursuing further education, buying a house, or planning for retirement. With the right strategies and tools, you can take control of your money instead of feeling like it is controlling you.
This blog article will discuss practical financial management tips on how to survive financially as a single mom, but better than that, to empower single women to achieve financial independence.
Shifting Mindset to Becoming Financially Independent
Thinking about finances for a single person can be intimidating or scary. It is holding up the mirror that you are going at this independently and your financial success or failure is solely on your shoulders. Change your mindset and instead view your independence as a positive. You have the sole decision-making power, you have unlimited earning potential and you don’t have to answer to anyone about the financial decisions you make. Every decision you make impacts you and you alone, harness that power, educate yourself, get professionals in your corner that will empower you and enable you to feel confident.
Understand and embrace your Financial Independence. Financial independence is not just about having plenty of money or a steady job. It is often projected as an intimidating concept, often unattainable, laden with complex vocabulary and lofty goals. However, at the core, it is about taking control of your own financial decisions, determining what financial independence is for YOU and choosing what suits you best in the long run.
Your financial decisions including when and how much to save, spend, invest and insure should all stem from an understanding of your financial independence.
Identifying Concerns and Setting Goals
What keeps you up at night, financially? Is it the worry of not having enough money to pay your bills? The thought that you’re never going to be able to retire? Paying for home improvements? Addressing those concerns and crafting a plan to make sure those concerns don’t become a reality is a necessity for single women.
Now that you have identified your concerns, what are your goals? What do you hope to achieve? An essential first step in your financial journey is to articulate your goals. These may range from short-term objectives such as a dream vacation, a fabulous designer outfit, or a new car, to long-term aims like buying your own home, starting a business, or planning for retirement. Once you’ve identified your financial goals, the next step is to create a structured plan to achieve them.
Remember, being single gives you the flexibility to tailor your financial goals precisely to your own needs and desires without having to compromise for another's financial priorities. It is also beneficial to regularly review and update your financial goals and concerns, adjusting as necessary to fit changing circumstances.
Managing Cash Flow and Budgeting Tips for Single Women
You can not identify how and when you’re going to save if you do not have a handle on your household’s cash flow. You have a single income household, but many of your bills and expenses are not based on one person. Your property tax bill doesn’t care if 1 or 10 people live in your house. Your cable and internet is the same whether you’re single or a family of 5.
Managing cash flow as a single woman is essential in order to build a solid financial foundation to build wealth. Here are some budgeting tips for single women:
- Are you spending more than what you’re earning? If that is the case, that needs to stop immediately.
- What are your necessary expenses? That should represent about 50% of your take home income. The goal is to save 20% of your take home income first in your emergency fund, then in a retirement account and then in after tax accounts.
- A consistent savings strategy can work wonders here. Consider automating a portion of your income each month towards your savings and investments so you are not inclined to skip.
Establishing an Emergency Fund
You can not achieve financial independence and security without the existence of an emergency fund. This is a pool of savings that acts as a buffer between you and life’s unexpected financial surprises. This is money that is put away with a lock and key and is only used if life were to throw you a curveball and you don’t have enough money in your checking account to handle it (job loss, home repair, car accident, etc.).
Rule of thumb tells us to have three to six months’ worth of living expenses in this fund. As a single woman, I suggest you lean more towards six months of expenses. Reason being, you’re a single income household, everything falls back on you. So, if you don’t have enough money in your emergency fund when an event occurs, you only have your savings to falls back on, no other income or savings, and if you have to incur debt, it again falls on you.
Having six months of expenses saved ensures you have enough to cover sudden expenses such as medical emergencies, car repairs, or job loss and would bring a sense of security and independence to help you sleep soundly at night.
Managing and Eliminating Debt
If you have significant debt, you need to first make moves to pay off that debt. Eliminating debt should be the priority after your emergency fund has at least 3 months of expenses saved. The reason we want to focus on getting an emergency fund build up before tackling debt is because if you have an emergency, and are without an emergency fund, you are going to bring on more debt to address it.
Once you have aggressively saved three months of expenses into your emergency fund, you can start thinking about investing, then slowly but surely make moves to increase your emergency fund to six months worth.
Investing for a Promising Future
Investing can often seem intimidating, but this is where finding a Financial Advisor to walk you through the process can be helpful. You can start off with a basic index fund when you’re starting to accumulate. But as your account grows, your investments should become more sophisticated. Investing requires patience, strategy, and an understanding of your risk tolerance. Mutual funds and stocks have historically time-tested to offer better returns over the long term. However, it is critical to diversify your portfolio to mitigate potential losses.
In addition to short-term savings and an emergency fund, setting up long-term savings is a must. Whether it is for your retirement, your child's college education, or any other significant future expenses, long-term savings are crucial. If you are going to use the money in the next 5 years, this can be in a conservative investment or money market fund. If you are planning on not using the money for a long time, it can be more aggressive, but still in line with your risk tolerance.
Explore Other ‘Extra’ Strategies
Creating Additional Sources of Income is another hack that single women can explore for financial empowerment. Today, there are numerous ways to generate passive or side income. It could be online freelancing, tuition, or renting out your spare room. This additional income can increase your savings, pay off debts, or even afford a lifestyle upgrade.
Today, numerous financial tools and resources are available that can help you manage your money effectively. Budgeting apps, retirement calculators, investment platforms – explore all these financial tools and take advantage of what they have to offer. They can help you understand more about your finances, how to save, where to invest, and how to reach your financial goals quicker.
Lastly, make continuous learning a part of your financial journey. Seek out financial literacy programs, read books, or engage with financial blogs and podcasts. But don’t feel like you have to go at it alone. You need trusted professionals in your corner to ask questions, bounce ideas off of and they should be bringing you ideas and providing advice as well. Knowledge is power, and in this case, it’s financial power.
Being a single woman is a powerful place to be, especially when it comes to your finances. You have the freedom to make independent decisions and cultivate a financial path that suits your exact requirements, making every penny count. Building a secure financial foundation may not be easy, but like everything else – where there is a can, there is a way.
Facing financial challenges is daunting, but knowing you are in control of your financial future is exhilarating. By implementing these strategies, you position yourself at an advantage to take control of your financial destiny. And remember, it's not just about the destination, but also the journey.
If you need any help or advisory when planning your personal or family finances, remember you can schedule a call with me. Let’s start the conversation to design personalized strategies that fit specifically what you need.