Budgeting Made Simple with Chris Hogan
Single parents, relying on one income, often face financial challenges, whether it’s always been that way or due to divorce or loss of a spouse. Variables such as child support, alimony, or a lack of either are factors that add to the complexity. Chris Hogan, financial expert with Ramsey Solutions, shares that even with these unique circumstances, the solution for single-parent families is similar to what every household needs – a clear road map to follow so they can move toward financial stability.
Chris is passionate about empowering people to gain control of their finances by making budgeting simple. He shares that regardless of the amount of income or expenses for any household, the common denominator to gain control over your finances is to begin using a budget.
A budget is a tool
For some of us, the idea of budgeting seems scary and complex, maybe even overwhelming, or impossible. Chris shares that using a budget doesn’t have to be any of those things. Rather, a budget is a powerful tool for healthy control over your money and a huge step toward personal freedom.
Budgeting brings freedom
The first step in developing a budget is understanding how much money you have coming in and going out. Determining how much income you have and knowing your expenses helps you begin to gain control over your finances. Rather than looking at a budget as a restrictive tool or punishment, we need to change our mindset, and look at it as a tool for personal freedom and success. Financial guru, Rachel Cruze says, “A budget gives you permission to enjoy” and this echoes Chris’ approach. A budget is meant to be used for our good so that when we do want to spend money on dinner out or buying something we want, we don’t have to be nervous about our card being declined or a bill being unpaid. A budget is a tool we can use to have a life we can enjoy while knowing our obligations are covered.
Developing a budget, knowing your income and expenses, is the first step toward that freedom. Figuring this out will take several months but it’s time well spent.
Proverbs 27:23 “Know well the condition of your flocks and give attention to your herds.”
What comes to mind when you hear the word “budget”? Do you see it as a tool toward financial freedom and steps toward the life you want? Why or why not?
The Four Walls
Next, it’s necessary to be aware of the four walls we must take care of first. These walls are housing, food, transportation, and utilities. Notice, says Chris, he doesn’t include gifts in there, shoes, or golf clubs, or even eating out. Instead, we must take care of essentials.
Especially during the pandemic, incomes have changed, hours have been reduced, and more than ever before these four walls must come first. Budgeting must be intentional. If we know these four walls are regular expenses, we prioritize them. Look at the things that are taking away from these priorities. For example, Chris says if you’re eating out three or more times a week, that is taking up a substantial portion of your budget. Reduce eating out to twice a week at most or even better start cooking at home. This is a huge money saver and a way to take control.
The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. If nothing changes, nothing changes! Taking control of your finances means learning. Learning is uncomfortable but our kids are looking to us so it’s important to become an effective leader for them.
Redefining our dreams
Another part of the budgeting process is redefining our dreams. When we have control over our finances, we give ourselves the power to reimagine our future. As we learn to manage our income and expenses more effectively, even if the pie we are dividing up is smaller, we gain the ability to make new dreams a reality.
Chris knows budgeting for single parents can be overwhelming. Single parents are busy and often exhausted. Chris says he thinks “Single parents put so much pressure on themselves. They want everything to be perfect for their kids but kids really want your time and your presence. They just “like” stuff but what they really need is your time.” Chris says we need to give ourselves grace. We won’t solve our financial situation in one afternoon. And, it’s okay and healthy to ask for help. He urges single parents, “Find someone who is better at this than you are and ask them to help you. We’ve become too prideful in our society to ask for help. I think it’s a downfall.”
If we, as single parents, want to gain control of our finances, become a good example for our kids, and provide effective leadership for them, we must give ourselves grace, be willing to learn. and be willing to ask for help. This insight applies to so many areas, not just finances!
Proverbs 15:22 says, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”
Are you willing to reach out for the help you need with developing a budget? What about asking for help in other areas? How much grace do you give yourself when it comes to learning something new?
Resources for Financial Health
When it comes to finances, there are so many resources available. Chris shared his website offers all kinds of tools and information (www.ChrisHogan360.com) and so does Ramsey Solutions (www.daveramsey.com). Once you’ve created a budget, there are seven steps you can take as a clear roadmap for financial health. Chris shares that these steps are like a recipe, “When you follow them to a T, you get the end result.” The foundation is to create a budget and prioritize the four walls of your expenses. Once you do that, then you can take the next seven baby steps.
Seven Steps to Financial Freedom
- Get $1000 in your savings so you no longer rely on credit if an unexpected need comes up. (How??? Have a yard sale, sell items on consignment, take a second job. Chris emphasized that if you don’t do step 1 , you will never get to step 2.)
- Attack debt, smallest to biggest. This will take 18 -24 months depending on the amount of debt you have.
- Build up a fully funded emergency fund. This is 3-6 months of expenses saved to a money market account.
- Invest 15% of your household income.
- Save for college.
- Pay off your house.
- Build wealth and give.
Giving is the best part of financial freedom. Chris can’t describe a better way to use money than to give. “It’s a two-way blessing. It blesses you as the giver and it blesses the receiver.” Giving sends a powerful message to your kids and teaches them a lesson they will never forget. “Let your kids catch you doing something good.”
One of the blessings of financial health is finding ways to be generous. Proverbs 11: 25 says, “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”
Can you think of a time when you’ve been blessed because of generosity, whether as a giver or a receiver? What message do you think it sent to your kids?
For more information on how to manage your money so you can use it as the tool God intends it to be, follow Chris Hogan on social media, and check out his website (www.chrishogan360.com).
As you walk the journey of single parenting, we want to help any way we can. Join our Solo Parent Society community by participating in one of our online groups meeting every week. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram (@soloparentsociety). Subscribe to our weekly podcast via AccessMore or wherever you get your podcasts and download our Solo Parent app FREE in the app store. We love to connect single parents to resources that offer hope and help. If you want to donate so we can reach more single-parent families, go to www.soloparentsociety.com. Questions? Email us at email@example.com.