By Katrina Villareal
Parenting is difficult in itself; having to do it without the support of a partner makes it much more challenging. You have to protect yourself from unemployment, getting sick, accidents, and even sudden death. So what can you do to secure your and your child’s future?
1. Establish more than one source of income. Find out what your company’s policy is with regard to moonlighting. If you can work freelance or have a small business on the side, then start networking with your contacts. Are you a wordsmith? Email magazine and website editors to apply as a freelance contributor. Do you love a particular line of products? Find out if they have a reselling program. The income from these streams may not be enough at first, but once you’ve established a client base, whether you work freelance or have your own business, then you’ve established a new income stream.
2. Live a healthy lifestyle. Prevention is better than cure, so to avoid getting sick, start eating right and being more physically active. This isn’t to say that you can’t indulge in your favorite food, but learn how to watch what you eat so you’re not having a cheat day seven times a week. If you don’t have enough time to squeeze in an hour or two at the gym, take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator; walk instead of taking a cab. (But save all this walking for when you’re not heading to a meeting. You don’t want to look like it’s 5:00 p.m. when it’s only 8:00 in the morning.)
3. Check your health card’s benefits. Most companies offer medical coverage, so find out what membership you have as an employee and take advantage of it. Go for regular check-ups. Choose accredited doctors. This will lower (or even eliminate) medical expenses. Make sure that you’re regularly contributing to PhilHealth as well.
4. Invest in accident and life insurance. Money is typically tight in solo-parent households, but investing in an insurance policy safeguards your child’s future. Most credit card companies have third-party insurance providers, so if you have a credit card, find out if they have a provider that offers accident insurance. Typically, these plans involve a regular monthly fee without any payouts. The good news is that the premiums are low, but you are protected in case of an accident. Life insurance plans tend to have higher premiums, but you can request an agent to customize your plan based on your budget.
5. Keep a record of important numbers and crucial information. As the head of the household, you have primary control of the documentation. But what if all of a sudden, something happens to you? Will the people left behind be able to care for your child or will they be scrambling and have difficulty figuring out heads from tails? Start with a record of all important phone numbers: family, emergency numbers, your child’s doctors, teachers, friends’ parents, school bus or carpool group; your employer, insurance agents, colleagues, and friends. Compile all critical records, such as birth certificates, medical histories, your child’s baby book, immunization records, insurance policies, billing statements, savings accounts, receivables, and payables. Then discuss these details with someone you trust.
6. Create a Legacy Drawer. Dave Ramsey, founder of The Lampo Group—a company that provides biblically based, common-sense education and empowerment to the financially secure and the financially distressed—recommends that each household create a Legacy Drawer. It’s basically “a drawer that houses all of the important information your family needs in case something happens to you.” It’s not fun, but it’s practical, especially for solo parents. This drawer will include a letter explaining the contents of the drawer, will and estate plans, details on your financial accounts, funeral instructions, insurance policies, any legal or other important documents, letters to your loved ones, monthly budget, tax returns, and all passwords, combinations, usernames, and PINs.
These may all seem daunting, but if you set aside an hour or two each day, or a whole stretch of time every weekend, then you can tick off each task from your list and sleep well knowing that you have contingency plans in place.