The new year is a time for fresh starts, and as a single parent, that might be just what you need.
With so many balls to juggle, you can be forgiven for losing sight of your goals and not making as much headway towards them as you would like. For this reason, the new year is a great time to re-focus your time and energy while you get perspective on what really matters.
Nothing is more important than financial goals because good money habits underpin the success of most of our objectives. Whether you want to buy a house, go on holiday, head to university, or upgrade your car … all of these need financing, so getting your cash in order is a great starting point.
In this article, we make ten simple suggestions to help you reach your financial goals faster and more effectively.
DO A PERSONAL BUDGET
Nothing is more important than a personal budget when managing your finances and working towards your financial goals. We recommend the free MoneySmart budgeting tool but there are many others available. Or create your own. After all, a personal budget is simply a list of money in and money out to allow you to track your income and spending. Simple but extremely effective, and a great starting point to reach your financial goals as a single parent.
BREAK DOWN YOUR GOALS
If you are aiming high with your goals, it could feel overwhelming. And overwhelm will dampen motivation. If this is the case, break your goals down into more manageable and quantifiable objectives. For example, instead of saying you will “save $80,000 for a home deposit”, change your goal to “save $10,000 over the next six months”. Then, when you have reached that goal (after you have patted yourself on the back) you can reassess and set yourself the next achievable goal which works towards your final target.
MAKE IT A TEAM EFFORT
As a single parent, your child (or children) will be an important part of your world. Consider them members of your team when it comes to reaching your financial goals. Even from a very young age children can become part of your money-saving mission. Explain to them what you are saving for and how it will benefit them. This will help them understand when you say no to unnecessary extras such as ice creams, throw-away toys, and takeaways. Equally, when you reach your goal, share your success with them and thank them for playing their part.
GET A PERSONAL FINANCE APP
There are lots of personal finance apps available, some free, others paid. We recommend doing some research to find an app that works for you. A personal finance app is a great tool to track your finances down to the tiniest detail wherever you are. Once you have fed in your personal finance information and hooked the app up to your financial institutions, the app does the rest for you. They are incredibly user-friendly and somehow make money management fun!
LEARN FROM THE FINANCIAL EXPERTS
There are lots of financial experts who are only too happy to share the secrets to their success with the general public. Check them out, see if any resonate with you, and get yourself educated. A favourite is Scott Pape aka The Barefoot Investor who makes finances so damn simple and even funny. Search online or check out the great range of personal finance books on the market to find an expert you like and learn from them.
MAXIMISE YOUR INCOME
Once you have done your personal budget, you will know what your monthly income is. This will be an accumulation of wages, child support, child benefit, investment payouts, etc. Now is the time to consider how you can maximise this amount. Here are some thoughts:
- Can you ask for a pay rise at work?
- Do you have time to take on more work or make money from home?
- Are you receiving all the benefits you are entitled to?
- Are your investments geared up and working to maximum potential?
MINIMISE YOUR OUTGOINGS
Similar to the above point about income, your budget will enlighten you as to how much money you are spending each month. Examine this carefully and think of ways to minimize your outgoings, such as:
- Are you paying for subscriptions or memberships that you don’t use?
- Have you got the very best available price on utilities, phone, internet, insurance, etc?
- How can you cut back on your weekly spending such as grocery shopping?
- What luxuries can you temporarily do without to minimise outgoings i.e. takeaway meals and coffee, eating out, alcohol, beauty treatments
PLAN FOR THE FUTURE
Having goals is a great way to plan for the future and to make your dreams happen. Over and above this, it is important to have a financial plan in place that will run alongside your goal-getting mission. A financial plan will ensure your finances are set up in such a way that your tax and super are working for you and not against you, and that you and your family will have financial security even when times are tough. A financial planner will be able to assist you with this.
Investments are not only for the rich. If you have money, you must invest it wisely. This can be as simple as a high-interest bank account to stash your savings. Or, if you have a larger sum to invest, consider an investment property or the share market. Note: Always get advice from an expert before making a big decision on what to do with your hard-earned cash.
VISUALISE YOUR GOALS
Setting financial goals on the first of January is all well and good, but by mid-March, your motivation may be waning. This is understandable and expected. Stay inspired by creating a visual guide of what you are saving for. You could make a mood board with pictures of the holiday you are saving for or the kind of home you want to buy. Or save pictures, pins, or websites online that remind you of your goal and how wonderful it will be when you reach it.