Why Single Parents Must Set SMART Financial Goals Today!

goals

I want to run a 5K in less than 40 minutes by training and improving my eating habits within the next 4 months. That is a very specific goal that is also SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time constrained. You’ll need a goal like that to get on the path to financial freedom.

If you read the previous post, “Start Saving Now, No Really, Like Right Now”, then hopefully you’ve put paying yourself first on auto-pilot. Now that that’s taken care of, it’s time to get specific about your goals.

Do you want to be a millionaire? Multi-millionaire? Debt free? Financially stable? Earning passive income? All of those are a possibility when a clear goal is set and a concrete plan is made to achieve them.

As a single parent, emergencies arise and unexpected expenses are inevitable. However, when goals are in place then put on auto-pilot, achieving them becomes more of an expectation than a dream.

So, what is your goal? Why is it important to you to achieve that goal? Set goals that are meaningful to you based on your values. Avoid keeping up with the Jones’ or trying to meet societal expectations. Its OK to be ambitious and want to have amassed $250K in assets in the next 10 years (everyone likes the million dollar mark, but we’re working with baby steps here.) Or maybe taking a week-long vacation to Hawaii is what you desire the most in the next 3 years.  Just remember, set your goals using the SMART goal format, and you’re on your way. (Click here for more on setting SMART goals.)

Now that you are educated on goal setting, it’s time to take action steps.

  1. Brainstorm what financial goal is most important to you right now.
  2. Put that goal in SMART goal format.
  3. Determine how much you will need to save or reduce your spending by, in order to achieve that goal.
  4. Adjust your finances to achieve that goal.
  5. If the goal requires saving more, create a separate savings account at your new bank/credit union (see previous post) and put it on auto-pilot.
  6. Check your goal progress every month to make sure you are on track to achieving it. (You could track it through an app like Mint.)

Voila! All done. Now you’re saving/paying yourself first and setting financial goals. You are well on your way to financial freedom and independence.

What’s your next big financial goal? Post a SMART goal you’ve set in the comments below.

Happy Saving! Live well!

Skip the Bills, Pay Yourself First!

Flat lay of earning money concept

It is unimaginable that Americans log over 40 hours a week or 8+ hours a day,  just to see all that money bleed out of their checking accounts to pay bills. What a travesty!

Why endure 12 years of mandatory school, 4 or more years of college, spend thousands of dollars in student loan debt, countless hours applying for jobs, countless more interviewing, and then the rest of your life working, just to send it all away at the end of each month? Doesn’t make much sense, huh?

People always ask how single parents can take care of all their responsibilities and have money left over to enjoy. I say, you just have to.

It is no secret that I educate myself based on the advice of our nation’s financial gurus (see resources page). “Pay yourself first” is the mantra I live by because of it. When I pay myself first, I am saving for my future, my fun, and my sanity, aka my retirement, vacations, and myself. You must too!

Some of you are screaming “how” and “there’s no money left to save,” but let me tell you, I said the same thing, until I made saving a priority.

Ever been in a situation when you didn’t know how you were going to make something happen, but you knew you had to? As a single parent, or a person in general, I know you have. That blind faith made you take a leap and in the end, it probably worked out. So now, I am telling you that you must take that leap for yourself.

You must start to save, and you must do it now.

Save for retirement. Save for vacations. Save for “me time.” Just save money from every paycheck and watch your stash grow. Unless you embarked on your career to let others reap the benefits of your talent and energy, saving for yourself is like paying yourself for your gifts and abilities. You deserve it!

Enough with the preaching, following are quick, easy, action steps you can take now:

  1. Identify ways to save $10 from your next bi-monthly check or $20 from your monthly pay.
  2. Open an online bank account from places like Quorum Credit Union and Ally bank, or open a savings account at a local credit union, separate from where you do your primary banking. Just make sure you are not paying any monthly fees. Credit unions are the best choice.
  3. Start a direct deposit from your primary account to your new savings account. Make it so that the money is deposited from each check, automatically.
  4. Download an app like Mint to keep track of your spending each month. This will help you identify areas where you can save money in the future.

That’s it! The goal of this post is to get you to start saving and identifying ways to save more. By having the money move automatically, you’ll never miss what you don’t see.

Placing the money in an online bank or a separate institution from your primary one makes you less likely to withdraw the money for anything other than emergencies.

There it is. Start saving now, like right now, and you’ll be on your way to a nice stash of cash for a rainy day.

Do you fear paying yourself first? If so, why? If not, why not? Post your comments below.

Happy Saving! Live Well!

Journey to Financial Freedom: The SingleParent$aves Story

freedom

Welcome to Single Parent Saves. This blog is a result of my passion for learning all things financial and a desire to share my knowledge.

First things first. This blog would mean nothing if I didn’t tell the truth. As a single parent, I have experienced financial ups and downs. From bankruptcy, foreclosure, and five-figure credit card debt, to an excellent credit score. I have been through some mess!

All too often people shy away from discussing important financial issues that are really important and require a support system to navigate.

Its taboo to discuss your salary, net worth, debt, credit, savings, etc. In an effort to keep up with the Joneses, people are afraid to actually learn what’s going on with them to find out how to achieve financial stability and freedom. Hence this blog.

Since the age of 5, my parents have instilled in me the importance of financial responsibility and stability. By the age of 19, after I interned at Merrill Lynch for 3 consecutive summers, my thirst for financial literacy and knowledge blossomed into a full blown hobby. From there I became a sponge, soaking up insight from the brilliance of Suze Orman, Jean Chatzsky, David Bach, Clark Howard, Michele Singletary, and countless others. It is from their lessons and my experiences that I base the information in this blog. That means that I am not a financial adviser and do not recommend that you follow any of my advice as a final say in your own life. I am simply a resource for you to use and take no responsibility for the decisions you make after absorbing the information presented in this blog. You must consult your financial adviser when making final decisions.

With that background and disclaimer, I hope you find some nuggets of knowledge that gets your brain hungry for more and that inspires you too to become a single parent that saves!

What financial obstacles are you facing or have overcome? Post your comments below.

Happy Saving! Live well!