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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...




Single and Financially Secure

By Deborah McNaughton
Feb. 28, 2010

Talking about money issues is often considered taboo. We talk to our friends about news events, family, illnesses and relationships. But when it comes to money, we clam up. When dealing with a financial crisis, many of us withdraw from the people who care about us. We tend to endure our money problems in silence, which is absolutely the worst thing to do.

In a single-parent home, resources are often stretched to the breaking point. When heightened financial stress is combined with past relationship pain, the tendency toward silence only goes up. Single moms (and even dads) can begin to believe they must face their red ink alone.

Two heads are better than one no matter how uncomfortable we are. Does God care about our finances? Of course He does! Hundreds of Scripture verses connect with the wise use of money. Proverbs 19:20 says, “Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise” (NIV). Money and wisdom are a powerful partnership. When you add prayer to the mix, you’re on the road to financial stability. As you commune with God about the challenges you face with your budget, it can do wonders for your peace of mind as well as bring inner peace and strength.

Find a partner, build a budget
Get a friend, family member or financial adviser with whom you feel comfortable. They will become your financial coach and hold you accountable on your finances. When you open up to a friend or expert, you often discover that they’ve experienced a similar situation in their life. It’s not unusual for them to give you solid advice on how to deal with the situation or where to get help. Meet with your coach once a month for accountability and to chart your progress.

When talking to the person you have chosen, make a list of the financial goals you hope to reach. It may be to get out of debt, purchase a home or automobile or set up a savings account.

After you have your financial goals set, the work begins. Before you can set a workable budget, you need to track all of your spending. If you prepare a budget before tracking your current expenses it will be inaccurate.

Your spending journal needs to list every dollar, quarter or penny that you spend for the next 30 days. For example you would write down the amount you spend on coffee treats or vending machine purchases. List everything.

At the end of the 30 days, total all your columns. Suppose you were buying a coffee mocha five days a week for approximately $3.05. That would total $793 per year. The fries that go with your burger five days a week at $2.05 would equal $533 per year. Could you take that money and pay off a bill or add it to your budget?

Review your checkbook register and credit card statements for the past 12 months. Put these expenditures into columns as well. You will find things that are not recurring expenses such as gifts, property taxes and car repairs. These are your “budget busters.” Total them up and divide by 12 months. This will be your monthly total to add into your budget.

Helpful Tips

• God is in control, even when things feel out of control.

• Money doesn’t fix everything. If we have God, health and loved ones, what more do we need?

• Carry a journal or notepad to track all your expenditures.   

• Look for ways to save money.

• Add the money you save into a special account to pay off your debt and begin saving for your future.

Once you have these numbers, you need to write down what your total income is per month. Use your net income (after taxes). Then go through your list of fixed expenses such as mortgage or rent, utilities, car payment, tithes, credit card payments, food, and childcare. Don’t forget your “budget busters.”

Now total your fixed expenses and subtract the total from your income. Hopefully you have excess money. If not, go back to your monthly journal and see what items you can cut back on. Once you are on track and have excess money at the end of each month, begin paying down your credit card debt.

Be a savings sleuth
Look for ways to save money. Simple things like turning down the thermostat can reduce your utilities. Review your phone plans. Avoid the frequent fast food trips. Split meals, join a carpool, and order water instead of soda. Think of ways to plug the leaks.

It’s not unusual for a single parent to spend money on incidentals for the children such as fast food, brand-name clothes and frivolous purchases. Many times a single parent will tend to overindulge a child out of guilt from a divorce. Don’t let guilt compromise good parenting. Be an example to your kids of a wise steward in handling money. It may be a good time to give them an allowance and show them how to budget.

When reviewing your finances, it is important to keep your spending under control. Most people can afford to pay 10 percent of their net income towards installment debt (not including their mortgage or rent payment). Fifteen percent is getting on shaky ground, but 20 percent and above is serious and you must seek help with a debt management company.

Being single, it is important that you save at least six months of living expenses. This is a good safety net should you have a loss in income. Sound overwhelming? It’s not if you look at it in pieces. Suppose you wanted to save $2,000 (which you should have as an emergency fund). Saving $166.67 per month equals approximately $2,000 in one year. If you can, designate a set amount that you can contribute to your savings. Have it immediately deducted from your paycheck.

As you and your financial coach meet once a month, track the progress of your budget. Review your financial goals to make sure you are headed in the right direction.

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed” (Proverbs 16:3).


DEBORAH McNAUGHTON is the founder of Financial Victory Institute. For more information, visit financialvictory.com.

Email your comments to pe@ag.org.