It takes two to make a baby and ideally it is a task for two to raise it. But there are many circumstances, due to which the responsibility of raising a child falls on one parent. In case of single moms, one of the biggest challenges is to ensure a financially secure future for your child, because this is something that usually a father takes care of. Most Indian women still depend on their husbands to save and invest for their children. To ensure that the fee is paid on time, and that when the time comes there is ample fund at disposal to pay for college or setting up a business for your kid.
But what if you lose your partner prematurely, before he could plan for your child’s future? What if you opt for a divorce and your ex shakes off any financial responsibility towards the child? In such circumstances it becomes a struggle to both care for your child and fulfil their financial needs as well.
Novelist, poet and activist Sujata Parashar shared her experience with us, “As a single parent my responsibilities towards my son also include managing my finances in the best possible manner. It took me some time to get used to the idea of budgeting, (especially living in a metro city like Delhi). However, after the initial hiccups; I can now safely say that I no longer break into a sweat at the thought of checking the account balance at end of every month. It took a lot of disciplining and smart planning to come to this stage.”
Women can indeed prevent this challenge from turning into a catastrophe, by starting with financial planning early on. The first step to this? Stop feeling intimidated by finances and think of it as your life-long friend, who will be there by your side, in times of need. As Janice Goveas, Senior Account Director at a global firm puts it, “Planning always helps. My father inculcated an appetite for saving as soon as I started working. I used to hate it then, but It always held me in good stead especially after my separation. I was prepared for any eventuality thanks to my father, as I have always been in control of my finances. He helped me in my early years (being a bank employee himself). He urged me to take risks when I was younger and to save before spending. It is simple tricks like that which are very helpful now.”
What if you lose your partner prematurely, before he could plan for your child’s future?
You shouldn’t wait for a tragedy to strike or a partner to break off things with you to take matters into your hands. Because then the stress of current upheaval only makes the task at hand look more difficult than it already is. But that doesn’t mean that it is too late to start at any point in your life. However, women face a very critical question, when they do decide to dabble with money- Where do I start? What do I do and how?
Perhaps Parashar’s take on how she does it can give them some insight. She says, “I always start by making a list of “needs” and “wants,” at the start of every month. The “needs” are bought first and if there’s scope left, I focus on the “wants.” Credit cards are an absolute no – no for me, I prefer using debit cards. There’s a self - imposed cut off mark or minimum balance that I maintain in all my accounts and I rarely go below it, and finally, I use multiple bank accounts to control spending and save compulsorily.”
I always start by making a list of “needs” and “wants,” at the start of every month - Sujata Parashar
Goveas too offers a very practical advice, “Always save before you spend. Make yourself financially independent and inculcate a habit of frugality. Focus on spending on experiences and not things. Things are perishable, experiences remain.”