December is a month of various traditions. Traditions that typically have little to do with saving, budgeting, and planning for a richer year ahead.
In December, people are feeling either elated or burdened by all the gift shopping and family visits. Personally, I love the Christmas holiday season, even though this time of the year can be one of the toughest for single mothers. Financially, it is extremely hard to save and stick to the budget during December. Emotionally, as single parents, we might want to (sometimes subconsciously and sometimes consciously) overcompensate for the absence of the second parent in the family and go a little wild with spending on children’s gifts and activities.
I also really enjoy giving gifts to my friends and family, as well as sharing what I can with those in need. Not to mention all the baking, fun family events, and deals during Black Friday and Boxing Day. Can you hear your wallet screaming “Help” yet?!
Whether you have very little or a lot, it is the prime time to think about actionable steps towards a richer new year for you and your children. As single mothers, we know the journey through financial peaks and valleys all too well. Our resourcefulness and determination push us through numerous challenges we face as sole providers and caretakers. By taking the time now to think about what you want to achieve financially in the new year, you are creating a good foundation for success.
1. Create/Update Your Budget
I know, making and reviewing budgets is not the most exciting thing to do during the festive season (or ever!). Yet, it is an absolutely essential step to make sure you are in control of your finances. I have been doing my budgeting for a few years now, and doing that taught me a lot about where my money comes from and goes to every year.
Even though my life does not drastically change every year, there are always changes in my income, debts, as well as spending. Typically, financial goals tend to change as well, especially if you have been sticking to your budget and saved up to invest in something that could produce extra income. All of these fluctuations need to be accounted for if you want to be the boss of your money, and make it work for you.
If you haven’t already downloaded my free budget template, do it here. I use this very same template (which I designed with single mothers in mind) every year. I still save my budget spreadsheets from previous years for comparison purposes. When I was updating my budget sheet this December, I was surprised to see quite a few changes vs last year. I also like to create “best” and “worst” case scenarios in my budget, which makes me feel more prepared. A great thing about this budget template is it doesn’t take long to fill out, yet creates a solid financial roadmap for the year ahead.
2. Boost Your Resume
Rewriting and updating my professional resume is another thing I don’t particularly enjoy. And yet, it’s another essential step of “boring variety” in my list of steps towards a richer new year. As I’ve learned, having a well-written and up-to-date resume can be one of the biggest contributors to a better income. It doesn’t really matter if you work at a factory, restaurant, or office. What matters is that your professional knowledge and skills grow and you are advancing as a specialist in your industry.
To get a better position and to boost your monthly income, your resume has to capture your professional growth. Let’s face it, single mothers are among the hardest working people on the planet! Chances are, you have been working very hard and deserve to get fair reimbursement for your dedication at work. As you’ve learned new skills and gained more practical knowledge at work, make sure your resume reflects that.
While I wrote my resume by myself before, this year I’ve decided to spend some money and have it written by a professional resume writer. We all have a very personal and emotional connection to our own resumes and can miss major blind spots that could lead us to a much better position. You want to work with a professional resume writer who knows what they are doing. This means they need to understand your past professional accomplishments, recent growth, and future goals. They will then create a clean, easy-to-read, professional version of your resume (and cover letter). Having this done will significantly increase your chances of getting hired for a role you’ve been waiting for.
After searching online, I’ve noticed a vast range of prices for a professional resume writing service. Unless you are at a CEO-level (and can justify spending a few thousand dollars to write your resume), I don’t recommend spending more than $150-$250 to have it done. Fiverr has a few good resume writers with stellar reviews who are more affordable than other writers online (click here to get 20% off if you haven’t used Fiverr before). Make sure to view samples of previous work from a resume writer you decide to work with. Yes, even $150-$250 is a lot of money for a single mother’s budget, but even if it will help you earn a few hundred dollars extra per month it is worth the initial investment.
3. Think Big
After you complete less exciting but necessary, two steps to a richer new year, it’s time to have some fun! Your revised budget provides you with a clear picture of your finances. Your updated resume is ready to be considered for new positions and exciting new opportunities. You can take a deep breath knowing that you’ve done your due diligence and allow yourself to think bigger now. As you think of the year ahead, what would you like to see in your life? How do you see your new year richer and more fulfilling?
Even if it is very hard to imagine, try picturing yourself and your children enjoying a comfortable and peaceful life, where you don’t have to worry about finances as much. Where do you work? What are you spending your money on? How is your life at home with children different? Notice how you are feeling when you envision all of this. Most likely, you feel more peaceful and relaxed.
This exercise is essential to expand your vision about what’s possible for you and your children. You might have a thousand good reasons which make thinking big seem ridiculous. However, by allowing yourself to dream you are tapping into your inner reserves of confidence, creativity, and resourcefulness. In order to succeed, you need to feel you can do it. As single mothers, we can bury ourselves under the weight of daily routine and limited vision. We primarily focus on getting done what needs to be done to make ends meet. In turn, we forget what it’s like to dream about a more prosperous future.
Since December is one of the most magical months and this post is about taking steps towards a richer new year, I invite you to imagine your biggest goals being accomplished. It doesn’t cost you anything to take yourself on this visual adventure. Yet, it will make you feel more centered, relaxed, and detached from the daily rut. Just try it!