That day has come. It is official. You are now divorced. The emotions of the day are different for everybody. The day is happy for some and sad for most. No matter what the reason, it is now time to move forward. You are now a single dad and that term comes with many heavy financial responsibilities.
The Financial Burden is All on You
In life most everything that happens to you is because of you. In raising kids as a single dad, most everything that happens to your kids is because of you. You’re going to be the key to them having birthday parties, driving a car and insuring it, and moving on to college among other things. These are the big things.
No longer is there a double income family unit to help pay for these things. It is all up to you. Now some of you may be saying, “No, my ex will help pay for those things.” That is nice to think, but it should not being something that you depend on. You don’t know what will happen down the road, and I am sure at some point that your ex will bring another man into her life, which may affect all the good intentions that she had when she said that she would help with those kind of expenses.
My message to single dads is plan as if there is no other person who will help you’re your kids’ life events.
Consider Future Expenses
Take a weekend to look at the future and think about things you will be responsible for paying. My own experience with this made me think about things like birthday parties, special trips at certain ages, a car and college.
One of the things that I always promised my daughter was that when she turned 13 and became a teenager I would take her on a special trip – just her and me. I started talking about this with her she was probably 6 or 7 years old.
Last year that day came. I had planned for this day and that was the smartest thing I ever did. I planned by saving a little bit along the way so that when the day came, I was not shocked by what its cost. Side note: Single dads, do this for your daughters. It was the best week of my life. We had such a great time and made memories for a lifetime. I planned for it financially, and, boy, am I glad I did!
Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Financial Planning
Plan, plan, plan. I believe that most everything that a dad will want to do for his kids can happen if you just plan for it far in advance.
In my case, I set up an investment account with a simple dollar cost averaging strategy in a growth mutual fund. It is remarkable what a little monthly money can turn into after a few years of growth. I made sure that I let my daughter know that it was set up for her and her needs down the road.
Not only do I have money set aside for her, but telling her also is a great teaching tool. A way approach the money conversation is to ask the question, “Is this item worth taking money out of the account when it might mean less money for a trip or a car?” When you ask your child this question, it starts them learning the value of a dollar.
I think that most kids need to have a philosophy that prioritizes spending money on experiences rather than on things. Things will eventually end up in a garage sale. Memories of experiences will be in the mind for an eternity.
I also encourage you to let your children’s grandparents know about any investment accounts that you set up in case they would like to help out. It cannot hurt to mention it in passing.
Single dads, do yourselves a favor, and from day one of being a single dad plan for those special moments in life that all kids deserve to experience. I know that you will be glad you did.