A Single Budget: Those Unexpected Expenses

TFO - Table for One Ministries- Ministry for Singles and Leaders to Singles - Blog - A Single Budget- Those Unexpected Expenses

For some, it is pretty easy to stick to a Spending Plan except when some unexpected expense arises. Some of these expenses can be predicted, some are just pure, unwelcome surprises. It is important to have an emergency fund to take care of the unwelcome surprises that we know will happen from time to time.

However, there are many “unexpected” expenses that with a little thought and planning can be anticipated. Singles frequently tend to work more and socialize more because they often have fewer family obligations. In socializing, it is common to eat out a lot, celebrate lots of birthdays, weddings, babies and many other things. So we need to plan in our Spending Plan for things like gifts, dinner parties out, social events celebrating milestones like birthdays and graduations, etc.

We also have expenses that don’t occur every month. If we are not planning well, these expenses can be “gotcha expenses”. Examples would be things like oil changes, car tags and registration, children’s school Field Trip costs, Christmas gifts, etc. It is important to anticipate these expenses and work them into your monthly Spending Plan.

Take a calendar and go month by month to help you anticipate these expenses. Working these into your Spending Plan will help you have more confidence in your plan and therefore help you be more successful.

A Single Budget: So What’s the Plan?

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So, you are single, carefree and are thinking a week at a beach house with your buddies sounds like a great vacation. Or maybe you are a single parent who wants to give your 7-year old and your 9-year old the magical vacation that every child dreams of…a trip to Disney World! So you just grab a soda and jump in the car and go, right? Of course not! With no plan or thought put into it, that would just be crazy. So why do we treat our money any differently?

Have you ever gone to pay for something with a $20 bill only to find it isn’t in your wallet anymore? Yeah, me too. What happened? You just got $80 out from the bank ATM a couple of days ago. So where is it now? If you don’t have a plan for that $80, it vanishes.

Whether you are a planner or not, when it comes to money you have to have a plan. Otherwise, your money just goes and you don’t have control. As Dave Ramsey says, tell every single dollar where to go on paper before even one of them leaves your hand. Having a spending plan sounds constraining, but if you can do it for 90-days, you suddenly find it very freeing.

“The plans of the diligent certainly lead to profit, but anyone who is reckless only becomes poor.” Proverbs 21:5. Although having a spending plan is a little uncomfortable to start, it sets you up to have success with your money, to take care of you and your family, and to experience the joy of making others’ lives better.

So what is your plan?

A Single Budget: A Spiritual Revival

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Money is the root of all evil, right? Not even close. Money is neither good nor bad. Money is a tool that can be used for some very good things, like feeding your family or giving to support a ministry. Money can also be a tool to do bad things like spoil children or finance terrorists groups. It’s not the money. It’s how the money is used.

How do you handle money? As singles we are blessed to get to control all of our money! We don’t have to share with a spouse–we can make 100% of the decisions about our finances. However, the curse of this is we can also easily misbehave with money and not have someone nagging about it. If you find yourself struggling with sticking to a spending plan, find someone to help you with accountability. It can’t be someone who is an enabler and will not ask you the tough questions when needed. Look for someone who is doing well with money and loves you enough to be tough with your feelings when needed regarding your money.

As Christians, we know our money is not really our own. We are money managers for what God provides for us. He is our provider.

Does your money spending reflect your values? The answer is yes. Like it or not, where we spend our money says a lot about what we value. It doesn’t mean we should give all our money away and live in a tent and eat bread and water. It is okay to enjoy some things, but Believers should also be balanced in living, giving and saving.

When we start managing money God’s way, amazing things will happen. Your debt will be under control, you’ll experience more joy of giving and you’ll move towards a greater understanding of God and His love for us. He has many good things for us and wants us to have joy. Give thanks for the things He has provided and focus on how He wants you to manage His money.

Single Struggles: Big Purchase, Big Decision

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Big Purchase, Big Decision

For single adults, financial decisions often feel like something you have to do on your own. Sure, you have friends and family to help. But friends and family are not always the wisest counsel when it comes to large purchases.

Who do you trust when you have to make a  tough choice?

Do you go with Internet reviews?  The article about Top Ten Cars? The brother-in-law who is a mechanic?

Mortgage websites can provide information but you can also find conflicting information about the choices when buying a house. Some say choose a fixed rate, some say a variable. And, let’s not even start a discussion on reverse mortgages.

Your singles group at church can certainly show support with prayer and bouncing off of ideas. There may even be wise singles in the group with a financial career. Maybe someone who recently spent a large sum of money on the very item you are considering. Connect with that individual and seek advice.

Collect the information to make a wise decision but don’t move forward without seeking the wisest Counselor we have.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (NAS)

While doing your research, pray about whether God has the specific purchase in His plan for your life. Trust in Him to open doors that lead to making that large purchase or close doors that require a waiting period.

Single Struggles: Shopping Alone

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One single adult told us that they struggled with shopping alone. While some purchases may not be as big a deal on your own, certainly there are times when we all need a wingman or wingwoman for support. When you are single, shopping alone will happen, but if you plan your time you will be able to find a person to shop with you. This is where having a strong social network of friends as a single adult is important.

Church is a great environment to meet other people and build a social network of friends to go to when shopping for life decisions. Next time when you have car trouble, need to make a big purchase, or just meet the cable guy at your house, call a friend and share in the shopping experiences with them. Do not let the pride of being self sufficient keep you from the opportunity to bless others with social interaction.

So go shopping alone from time to time. Sometimes it’s best to find out that the pants that used to fit and now do not when you are alone! But also be humble enough to ask for a second person to go with you when you need it.

I Got This

TFO - Table for One Ministries- Ministry for Singles and Leaders to Singles - Blog - I Got This

Singles love going to eat with other people and being social. The other part of being single is that your budget only has one income and eating out often can get expensive. Most singles run into this problem and have to cut back on eating out, or keep it under control at the least. But, there is something about going to lunch with someone else that helps us bond with one another and allows walls to come down. Jesus broke bread with His disciples and used that time to teach and connect with them, so it is no surprise we do the same.

But, when was the last time was you purchased someone else’s lunch? Have you recently said to your lunch partner “I got this” and purchased their meal? A meal may cost $8-$10 but your action was not a monetary one, it was one that demonstrated an act of love and selflessness. Still doubtful? Give someone a $10 bill and watch their reaction. They may say “thank you” and then move on without even keeping up with how that $10 was spent. But, purchase that same person a meal for lunch with that $10 and they immediately are grateful and remember your generosity. Your intentional act of giving will hopefully bring glory to God. Be discerning in how you bless someone with buying their meal and always be discreet. Be a cheerful giver and learn through your act of kindness how to serve and bless others everyday.

Now, we can hear those of you saying you don’t have enough money to buy someone’s meal. Start small with your acts of generosity and start budgeting funds to be able to do so. Soon you will be a cheerful giver that is demonstrating the love of Christ with others. Go ahead, try it. Not all results will be gratifying, but if you continue to bless others, you too will be blessed by your giving. Don’t let the mindset of being single on one income keep you from telling your lunch partner, “I got this.”

An Emergency Fund Kind of Day

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I had a wonderful time visiting with family at Christmas. Due to my job, I traveled back from Tennessee to Texas on Christmas Day . A storm was moving up from the Gulf and another winter front moving down from Oklahoma. Eventually, these two storms would collide. No worries. I carefully planned to avoid the expected collision. According to the weather forecast, I would be in between the storms.

However, both moved faster than expected.

Halfway through Arkansas, I ran into the heavy rain storm that froze and turned to ice. About 15 miles later, I heard the noise. The noise was a tire pierced with a large piece of metal. I managed to ease off the Interstate at an exit with a Shell gas station. An abandoned Shell gas station. I was in the middle of nowhere.

Fortunately, my cell phone Roadside Assistance was able to help me. Within an hour, I was back on the road.

Another 40 miles and I was out of the storm. I had talked with family and they’d checked the weather–it was clear the rest of the way. About an hour later I called again for a check because huge snow chunks, not flakes, but chunks, were hitting my windshield with loud splats. The storm had shifted and taken an ugly turn. The next 100 miles seemed extra long and slow. As I approached the next town, I needed to determine whether to get a hotel room or press on despite the highway conditions. I pressed on.

I saw over 60 cars wrecked or skidded off the road, stuck in ditches. Each incident represented the possible need for Emergency Funds. My Emergency Fund could have been in play if I had decided to stop and get a hotel room. Because I had an Emergency Fund, I knew I could have made that decision. I had a choice.

Now, put yourself in this true story. Do you have an Emergency Fund set aside to tap into if you have a wreck, a snowstorm, an unexpected hotel stay? There’s many other emergency scenarios. You have a dead battery or bad alternator. A bout of flu that require $70 worth of prescriptions. A minor child who runs into a neighbor’s mailbox and it needs to be replaced.

Emergencies will happen, it’s just a matter of timing.

If you don’t have an Emergency Fund, it’s time to get your Emergency Fund in place as if you see the emergency coming. I assure you, at some point, it is. Start small, maybe $100 set-aside for emergencies. Then over time, grow it $500, then $1,000. From there you can determine how much emergency funds you need in your budget to avoid worrying about where money will come from when there is a time of need.