Money Matters: single parent

You work for your money, but does your money work for you? As the financial year comes to a close, we ask the question, how well do you know your money?

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Jyotika (Joy) Singh (Credit recovery manager) and her sons Armaan and Sidhant

How do you plan your cash flow (income and expenses)? Do you use a budget planner?
The first thing I learnt was, no matter how much we say money is not important, at the end of the day we all need it to live a decent life and pay our bills. I plan my budget meticulously. Top of the page is my monthly income and down below are the expenses. After noting down all the bills and direct debits, I also note my petrol expenses, grocery, daily coffee money, medicines, extra unknown expense (always put aside $200) plus I have my savings.
Does your partner support you financially?
No, never has, never will.
Do you think women should learn more about managing their finances?
Let my life experience be a lesson to all women out there. Yes it is very important for all women to be aware of their finances and to manage them. From someone who had never dealt with money matters, to have to learn to budget even for the smallest daily expense, has been quite a journey. But it’s a journey that has made me stronger and more aware financially.
When my ex-husband just took off (he was untraceable), I had no clue of where to start. In today’s world, if women can go out and work full time, they should also be fully aware of their financial situation. This is the first step to independence. When women say “I have no idea of our finances, my husband does it all” I don’t think this is something to be proud of. Know your finances and be in control of your own life.
What is your Plan B in case you can’t work?  Do you have an emergency fund, or insurance policies to help out?
Unfortunately no insurance policy but I do have some extra money in my home loan in case I need it for emergency reasons.
Name one financial challenge you face often. How do you overcome it?
When my boys were younger and at school, it used to be extra expenses like school camps or even just buying them sports gear. But I always budgeted for it and had some extra money end of the month stacked away. Now that the boys have grown up and are both working, the challenges are different. Now it’s more about thinking for the future, ensuring that I keep something aside for my old age, and having that extra bit for the unknown. I overcome this challenge by being responsible with my money. I live within my means and have never felt like I am depriving myself.
Tips and tricks you use to curb expenses and stop spending/start saving?
I never deprive myself of small pleasures. Always keep some money aside for catch-ups with friends or an occasional movie/dinner night. Never over-do what you can’t afford. Every week, I take out $50 as my own pocket money. I keep it aside and it surprises me when it all adds up in a few months. I am not a shopaholic. I buy clothes/shoes when I need to. I have thinned out my cupboards and don’t hoard. It is such a satisfying feeling.
Did you set money aside for your kids’ education?
When my boys were younger, yes, I always set money aside for their education. Both my boys went to TAFE and took HECS. I think it’s a brilliant system that teaches our children to be more responsible and to value their money.
Are you wishes for the kids written down somewhere?
I do have a will done up by a lawyer. I just feel this is so important. Life is unpredictable and it’s always good to be prepared.
What did you teach your children about working with money?
My boys used to get pocket money when they were younger but not a lot – $20 a fortnight. They would save it up to buy an X-box game or something. Now that they are both working, they too respect their money and only spend within their means. It makes me very proud to say that neither of them owns a credit card.
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