by Damon Carr, For New Pittsburgh Courier
The paradox of singles and money—the good thing is that everything falls on you and the bad thing is that everything falls on you. When you’re single you have the luxury of spending, saving and investing money when, where and how you want to. You are independent, self-reliant and self-sufficient. You don’t have the nagging money fights that many couples have about money. The downside of being single is that the income, decisions and responsibilities associated with spending, saving and investing money starts and stops with you. There’s no one to fall back on in the event you lose your job or source of income. There’s no nagging partner who will challenge you and force you to rethink certain money decisions that oftentimes lead to mistakes. As a result when you’re single, you have to be twice as smart, twice as cautious, and twice as responsible than the average couple with money.
Whether you’re married, single, shacked up or have a lifetime partner, we all have similar financial goals. We desire to work in a good-paying career that we enjoy. Other financial goals include buying a home, saving for retirement, saving for college, building an emergency fund, eliminating debt, buying a newer car, making repairs to home, taking nice vacations, paying off home early, purchasing investment property, building an investment portfolio, giving to charity, becoming financially independent and building wealth.
The only real difference that we have is that we are at different phases in our life. Because we are at different phases in our life, our financial goals are prioritized differently. A younger person just starting out may be more focused on career planning and buying a home whereas a person who is nearing retirement may be more focused on paying off the mortgage early before retirement and saving for retirement. Given the fact that we all have similar financial goals, the process of financial planning is similar. You have to identify short-term and long-term financial goals and identify financial concerns and fears. Prioritize your financial goals. Develop and execute a game plan to achieve your financial goals and tackle your financial concerns and fears. But because singles are doing it alone, they have less room for error. Singles have to be more strategic in their planning and err on the side of caution when making financial decisions. For example, it’s recommended that you should have three to six months worth of living expenses set aside for emergencies. If you’re married and your spouse works, three months of living expenses will be okay. But if you’re single, your goal should be saving the full six months worth of expenses.
There are four types of singles: Never been married; divorced with no kids; single parents and widows.
Each type has their own set of unique circumstances.
Never been married: The primary focus with this group is finding a soul mate. They desire to find someone to love and grow with oftentimes overshadows their career and financial goals, resulting in poor financial planning and in many cases, no financial planning at all. This group tends to overspend on dining out and entertainment and are very prone to impulsive shopping. It is extremely important for people in this group to get a financial game plan in place and stick to it. It is also recommended that people in this group find a money mentor—someone that they respect and admire in the area of money management. This mentor will serve to help you remain accountable to your financial plan. They will also serve as someone you can talk to and help you weigh the pros and cons before making large money purchases.
Divorced with no kids: Considering the fact that 80 percent of people who go through divorce cite money problems as the leading cause, this group is likely to be carrying both emotional and financial baggage. In addition to facing many of the same problems that the never been married group faces, this group tends to indulge more as a way to block out many of the negative experiences in the former marriage. This group also tends to try and maintain the lifestyle they lived when they were married even though there’s been a substantial drop in income. Because of the negative experiences this group faced with money and marriage, they re-enter the single world wiser and more cautious. A solid financial plan will help to bring about hope and a fresh perspective on life.
Single parents: This group is overworked, underpaid, tired and many times scared out of their minds because they face many of the same problems in the first two groups and they have the added pressure of their dependent children relying on them for guidance, safety, and money. The importance of this group having a solid financial game plan is magnified because it’s no longer all about you. Although single parents lack both time and money, it’s important to note that managed money works harder. Having a financial game plan in place where you know your children will be provided for if something happens to you will help ease the tension and fear associated with being scared.
Widows and Widowers: It can be emotionally crippling to lose a lifemate. Hopefully you and your mate had a financial game plan in place that will ease the financial tension that comes with the transition of now having to do it alone. This group faces many of the same issues that the other groups face. One of the biggest problems with this group is when the spouse who handled all of the money and money decisions precedes the other spouse in death. This leaves the surviving spouse who generally has no basic financial skills to fend for his or herself.
(Damon Carr, Money Coach can be reached @ 412-216-1013 or visit his website @ www.damonmoneycoach.com)