Facing Your New Financial Reality

by Amie Streater with Megan Gordon

Juggling expenses in the middle of drastic financial changes may be one of the toughest challenges you’ll face as a single parent. As you set out to provide for your family, it can be hard to know where to begin and how to make ends meet. So it’s natural to feel overwhelmed or anxious.

To overcome your financial fears, start with what you know: God is in control, and He is your provider. Acknowledging God’s plan and purpose for your life will empower you to overcome fears of the unknown. Now is a good time to deepen your prayer life. Lean into your faith and strengthen your relationship with God.

Another step you can take to lower your financial stress is to prioritize spending. Because income levels may change dramatically for newly single parents, re-evaluating finances is necessary.

Following a realistic budget enables you to keep your spending in line with your income. If your income has decreased but your spending has not, you need to reprioritize. Facing the facts on paper will help you establish your “new normal.”

Remember, a budget should be based on secure income. If a potential source such as child support or alimony is inconsistent, do not consider it income. You can always adjust your budget if this source becomes reliable in the future.

Although you may no longer be able to rely on a dual income, you don’t have to feel stuck in an unhealthy financial situation because of embarrassment or shame. You don’t have to go it alone. There are resources available to help you find your financial footing as a single parent:

Look to your community, including local churches, for supportive services.

These options may include practical, cost-cutting or complimentary help related to clothing and food for those who don’t qualify for government assistance.

Seek the wisdom of a financial mentor.

When you struggle, your mentor can encourage you to regroup and prioritize your expenses until you are able to live within a plan that works for your family. Then when you meet a financial goal, you’ll have someone to celebrate with you.

Connect with a financial counsellor.

The counseling department at Focus on the Family has a national network of Christian counselors ready and willing to help.

Besides your relationships with God and your children, your relationship with money has more of an impact on your personal level of peace than any other connection in your life. Don’t allow financial fears to hold you back. Take the necessary steps to make informed decisions and find freedom and peace in your new financial situation.

Amie Streater is a financial coach and the author of Your Money God’s Way. This article first appeared in the October/November 2011 issue of Thriving Family magazine. Copyright © 2011 by Amie Streater. Used by permission. ThrivingFamily.com.