Old Mutual’s Savings and Investment Monitor found that 50% of mothers in SA are single moms and of these, just 12% of fathers regularly contribute financially to the well-being of their child.
“Our study revealed that not only is every second mom single, but that there’s a 33% probability that she’s also supporting one, or both, of her parents. Furthermore, the survey showed that the poorer the household in terms of income, the higher the likelihood of single motherhood,” says John Manyike, head of Financial Education at Old Mutual.
Unfortunately, single mothers are faced with double the work, stress, tears and financial difficulties. “Especially during the current tough and uncertain economy, the word ‘difficult’ becomes an understatement. However, this is the time when planning is absolutely crucial. Making sure you’re prepared – emotionally, physically and mentally – is key to your peace of mind,” Manyike says.
Never leaving anything to the last minute, always thinking ahead, and planning accordingly will help single moms through various challenges they’re presented with.
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“It’s essential to start at the beginning and think about every milestone that will present itself in your child’s life,” says Manyike. “This includes school fees, uniforms, stationery, extra-mural activities, extra lessons, daycare, the matric dance, university tuition . . . the list goes on. Without becoming overwhelmed, set a reasonable plan in place and assign an estimated budget to cover the expenses that you’ll need to save toward. By doing this, the challenge of being a single mom and being financially stable becomes more achievable.”
Here are a few tips that Old Mutual Financial Education has drawn up for single moms to stay financially fit while raising their children alone.
- For new mothers, the minute your pregnancy is confirmed, start putting money away into a savings account. Take into account your potential medical expenses as some medical aids don’t offer 100% maternal benefits. You can start with as little as R200 a month – the important thing is to start, and to start today.
- If you have a baby on the way, consider nappies and baby gear, a carer for when you return to work, nursery school for when your baby is older, and eventually school. Take a step back and consider the potential expenses that are likely, and be better prepared for what’s to come.
- Charge down your debts to limit your financial obligations when you’re on maternity leave or speak to your creditors to reduce your monthly instalments so you can cope during this period.
- Contact a financial adviser and start the conversation around saving for your children’s education. School fees increase every year, and saving long before the time will give you peace of mind.
- Compile a comprehensive financial plan and stay committed to it. Of course, circumstances can change, so notify your adviser of any financial changes to ensure that they’re worked into your financial plan and that allowances are made where necessary.
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- We all want the best education for our children and often our first choice of school is far from home. Prepare yourself for rising transport costs and school fees. Or look for schools that are closer or move closer to the school that you prefer to reduce transportation costs.
- No matter what, don’t stop saving. Be committed to your long-term goals, such as a university degree for your child. Become emotionally attached to seeing your child getting a degree – that vision for the future will fuel your commitment to save money, especially in those months when it’s tough to do so. Many government schools offer school fee exemptions to parents who can’t afford to pay the full fees monthly. Speak to the principal and make use of this service to ease the burden.
- Don’t put yourself under pressure by trying to “keep up with the Kardashians, the Khumalos or the Karims”. Dress your children according to what you can afford and don’t open clothing store accounts if you can’t afford to pay the total monthly fee – if you can’t buy it cash, then you shouldn’t buy it at all.
- Prioritise and shop at cheaper stores, change to cheaper brands, compare prices, and pull back on holidays, DStv and other luxuries. This is the time to go with what you need, not what you want.
- Learn to say no! Children can push you into buying things just to keep up with their friends or the latest trends. It’s wiser to teach your kids about budgeting, pocket money and financial restraint than to give in to their demands. If there’s a pair of takkies they’re desperate for, sit down with them and work out a financial plan to save the money. Once the money is saved and the takkies are bought, your child will have much more appreciation for that item.