I’m an older single woman and even though I’m a budget nerd, I feel uncomfortable. Having no one to bounce my ideas off of, leaves me guessing. Do other singles feel this way? Or do those with a partner who wants nothing to do with finances, feel adrift making all the financial decisions? I make errors in financial judgement, thankfully they have been small and the long term financial impact is low. I’m concerned that I’ll make a big one. Being frugal, I only pay for short, annual appointment with my long-term financial counselor. We set a goal, I work for it. Also, as a retired person, making a huge error could have a huge impact.
I have definitely made some financial mistakes in my younger life, or more like a few short years ago
It is only more recently that I have really started focusing hard on my finances and what I would like my financial future to look like.
I can say that being married, and having someone to be more accountable to does help but that person doesn’t have to be a partner.
That being said, I was still making some poor decisions even when we were just dating. Such as purchasing a car when I had one that worked perfectly fine. That is one financial mistake I am still paying for and kick myself for every day!
The problem is, a lot of times, both us and the person we are holding ourselves accountable to are prone to make mistakes.
That is why, I really appreciate being a part of a group like TPH Community because here we have the opportunity to hold ourselves accountable on a much larger scale and also learn from other’s successes as well as their mistakes.
I know this sound trite when major financial decisions come into play but years ago. when in sales, I learned about the “Ben Franklin close”. I have used this method over and over again through my lifetime when trying to make major decisions on many things.
Basically, you make 2 columns on paper: Pros and Cons.
Each column becomes a list of why you should and why you should not.
I leave the list where I will walk by it all day long. I add, cross out items, re-reading it for several days if necessary. Over time a plan starts to form that I become reasonably comfortable with.
The list doesn’t necessarily mean the longest list wins. When I was trying to make the decision to buy a house on my own, the cons list outnumbered the pros list, but the importance of the items on the pros list ended up outweighing the cons. Things like raising my kids in a stable neighborhood with other children and people in my age group rather than living in an apartment, the school zones, the resale and investment potential.
It also presents a way to look at the worst thing that could possibly go wrong. In the case of the house, the worst thing was to not be able to afford the payments at any time (like an emergency). So the worst thing was selling the house, and if I could handle that financially and emotionally, then I saw no reason not to proceed.
I don’t think the Ben Franklin close performs miracles, but it gives one a structured and visual guide to thinking things through…for me, anyway!
Thanks MINTJULEP, I’ve done a pros and cons list on decisions before, but never let it sit for a few days to revisit the list. I also like the term “Ben Franklin close”.
I am a single parent, and although I have a partner, he lives 2 hours away.
I meet with a friend of mine (also a single parent) at least twice a month to budget together and discuss money. It helps so much to have someone to talk with and bounce ideas off of. We call it our support group. Its helpful to have someone brainstorm with and to call me on my stuff and hold me accountable.
Yes, it requires transparency, and obviously has to be a trusted person. Doing this has made a big (positive!) impact on my finances.
I have always tried to be in charge of my finances even with a partner (I am currently and plan to stay single since I turned 50 and divorced). Some people work well together budgeting but that only works if you both discuss finance spending and budgeting and come up with a budget that both can deal with. As part of my divorce, I went through a bankruptcy to remove the debts that occurred and left unpaid by my ex-spouse because I live in a joint ownership state for anything that occurs during a marriage even if the only one creates the debt. I took a credit counseling course during the bankruptcy process which made me face the reality of properly handling a budget which also made me realize exactly how much I earned and how to control my biggest threat to controlling debt. Every one of us has to know how to differentiate between necessity bills and debt created by impulse buying.
I am at a point now, where I feel I need to eliminate the unneeded debt that I created so I am forcing myself to impose a block on using any credit cards unless for necessity and eliminating the debt one card at a time until I have no debt. Yeah, I have read those stories about how people do this in a short period of time but those storytellers don’t live in the real world of also paying all real necessity bills–rent/mortgage, utilities, transportation, and food–because they aren’t paying for these bills during their “big paying off debt” cycle.
I deal in reality in my world as I have to pay these bills, plus pay off debt. Reading these blogs doesn’t always give me answers but it does enforce key points on budgeting skills and elimination of debt skills. As for the need to have someone to talk to about finances as a single person, what I find works is to be informed as much as possible and if you need answers have questions prepared and ask more questions, especially when they expect you to sign fine-printed papers. I make a point of making them give me time to read those papers in detail in front of them and question everything I don’t understand. I especially detail read the changes in my healthcare (at this point in my life, it’s Medicare plus a drug coverage in a PPO plan). You would be surprised how much cost they try to pass on to us if you don’t read the fine print. For example–those dental plans–you only get coverage for a list of certain treatments, implants are not included, plus dentists don’t have the same requirements to detail their treatment procedures and create extra treatments so they can collect more money. I have had bad experiences with dentists so I don’t accept their recommendations unless it fully addresses my need. My present dental need was created by dentists, who were overzealous in the treatment of cavities and did nothing to prevent cavities, plus the orthodontist I went to never removed my overbite problem. Now I am going to be very specific on what treatment I will undergo and what cost I will undertake.
Don’t think you need to be in a relationship to take care of your financial needs.
@mintjulep Yes, I use the 2-column, pro-con list especially for major decisions, financial and otherwise. I don’t think I knew it was called “Benjamin Franklin Close” or if I did, I forgot about it. Thanks for the term. Happy Valentine’s Day.
I don’t have a partner, but finding this site where I can see what others are doing and getting feedback is actually more helpful than all the other personal financial sites I visit. I also use a cousin of mine to bounce ideas off. He’s as big a personal finance nerd as I am. We love to talk about how we save on things, canceling subscriptions, getting the most for our dollars. Basically, because I’ve been doing everything my entire adult life, including all the financial mistakes, I still trust my judgment. And listing out the Pro/Cons as @mintjulep mentioned is a part of making judgment decisions. Sometimes, when I see the pros and cons listed out, I may still choose the “con” even if there are more of them. Situational judgment I guess it’s called.
@maria.rose it sounds like you’ve taken the bull by the horns to get out of debt and stay there! It’s an amazing feeling to relieve the debt burden, especially when you must do it on your own.
I also am a fine print reader, it’s important, though so tedious. One almost has to read the fine print with a law dictionary beside them! And I’ve signed a few documents that made me think I was absolutely insane for doing so, but knowing I had options to remove myself if I had to.
@sthom Thank you for the Valentine’s Day greeting! I hope yours and our PH friends made the most of their day. The more I age, the more grateful I am for every day I wake up and move it!
@mintjulep I’m right there with you.
@DBOOTHE Grateful for the basic and little things right!!!
Thank you for the ideas. I’ll be 60 this year, where did time fly to? When I divorced my children’s father, he required that every year I turn over accounts of what I spent the child support on. Our children were 7 years and 4 months old. I guess he wanted proof of the $3000/month he was sending. I opened checking accounts, one for each child and purchased carbonless checks. Every January 1st, he got a shoe box full of the carbons and I let him work out the numbers! I NEVER cashed those $1/month alimony checks he sent. If child support ended, I could get an immediate increase in alimony. I’ve been an adult far longer than most. I inherited my first home at age 11 and my second at age 14. At age 15 I became an emancipated minor. It was only years later that I realized not everyone grows up that way. But it was fun! Finished college early, and went off to be a fighter pilot. All of this made me a die hard budget nerd. I’ve been completely retired 20 years. When I was forced into medical retirement, I still had my children at home and staying on top of chemo and doctors appointments. Being a full time Mom was a full time job. My daughter left for college at age 16, so it was just me and my son, age 9. I really enjoyed the time I spent with him one on one. My daughter is the type who sucks all the rooms attention and my son is the quiet one. He began his pre-med at age 14, but lived at home until age 17 when he transferred. I was glad I still owned one of those homes, since both went to Harvard. They got scholarships and I paid cash for the balance. They are grown, married and have good careers. Now that I have my service dog, my power chair and my handicap van, I’m going to hit the road. No. I no longer fly. My humble home is paid for, so I can just keep it as a base. I’m now saving up to send my grandchildren to Harvard. Granddaughter is 2 1/2 and Grandson is due in May. I’ll have time to get that accrued interest to work in my favor. I am keeping my New Years resolution. I normally save 25% of my retirement income to offset what I’m taking out. I’ve increased it to 50%. March will be the fourth month of the increased amount. I’ve had to tweak a few things, avoiding perfumes, jewelry and knick knacks. I actually stuck a label on a bottle of perfume to see how long it took to use up. 14 months! If I want “new” jewelry, I take apart old and create something new. As for knick knacks, I just buy toys and mail them. I don’t think I’ll ever stop buying clothing. After decades of uniforms, I love to dress up. I’m old school, i buy hats, gloves, shoes, handbags, hose and dresses. My makeup is another big splurge. I installed a program on my laptop which speaks what is written. I just let the laptop read my excel spreadsheet and I have “something” to talk back to. lol I just need to plan what I’ll do for the next 20 years.
I love it, @mintjulep “…wake up and move it.”
@jobelle.collie What an interesting life story! You have definitely accomplished quite a bit and have managed your finances much better than most.
Just from this short excerpt of your life, I was thinking you could write a book that would definitely be interesting to read! There is a lot to be learned from your many life experiences.
Thanks for giving this a name…