All Things New: Finding Financial Peace with Rachel Cruze

All Things New: Finding Financial Peace with Rachel Cruze

One of the more challenging parts of single parenting is how to make everything work financially. When we are primarily responsible for the welfare and health of our kids, the financial burden can often feel so overwhelming. So, as we start off this New Year talking about how to approach the foundational parts of our lives differently, finances should be at the top.

Number one best-selling author and financial expert, Rachel Cruze, joined us in the studio today to talk about finding financial peace in the new year. 

Money Doesn’t Define You

As single parents, there’s so many emotions that come with the loss of a spouse, whether that’s through divorce or even death. When you’re walking through the crisis of that, it can feel like there’s more expenses than what you have the resources for. But that doesn’t mean all is lost—especially when it comes to your finances. 

First and foremost, Rachel Cruze wants you to know that your money isn’t an accurate measure of your worth. “Money does not define us. In our world today, it’s seen as a scorecard of how good I am in life. Money is just a tool to help us get through life. And its value has been changed,” Rachel said. “I do want to release single parents, especially those who are in crisis mode: Your net worth is not your self-worth. Your money and what’s in your account does not define who you are. Of course, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect you, because we have to have money to pay bills and put food on the table. It’s a part of life we can’t escape, but it does not define who we are. I would really encourage you to give yourself grace—Especially in crisis mode.”

Dealing with Finances While in Crisis

When you’re in crisis, it’s hard to make big financial decisions—especially when you’re worried about how to keep the lights on and food in the fridge. Here are Rachel’s top tips for handling your money when you’re walking through difficult times:

  1. Have a community of people around you

When you’re a single parent, you don’t have two brains working for the good of your home. Instead of two people working through questions like: Has the light bill been paid? Is the bread moldy? Do we have enough income to pay our mortgage this month? 

You are the only one thinking through all of these things for your home and your children. Because of that, it’s so helpful to invite a community of support to help you remember all of the things. Rachel suggests asking a good friend to walk with you for accountability. Send them a text at the beginning of the month saying, “Here’s the 10 things I need paid every month. Will you text me on the first of the month so I can remember?” That kind of support will go a long way in helping you until you get the hang of things again. 

  1. Get back to the facts

As single parents, it can be hard not to let fear take over our minds and even our decision making. Sometimes those fears can get magnified in our heads, and the emotions take over. “The logical part of your brain can easily unplug and you can get in this cycle of fear,” Rachel said. “And if you don’t have facts in front of you, it can be really hard.” Get the facts down on paper. At Ramsey, we call these the Four Walls: food, shelter, utilities, and transportation. 

“I want you to sit down and look at the rent or mortgage payments. Write that number down. Make it visual. Then, look at food and put together a rough estimate: Here’s probably how much we’re going to need for food this month. Utilities: As much as you can, get those utilities down on paper. And the needs. If you need to cut some subscriptions down to make it less chaotic and simplify it, that would be really helpful. And then finally, transportation. You need to make sure everything is good with you getting to work. Make sure there’s gas in the car, insurance is paid, and if you have a car payment, that you don’t get behind on that. That’s your baseline. During crisis mode, that’s what I would focus on. If you have other bills, I don’t want you to get behind. But crisis mode is only for a season and I would almost rather you just stick with those four walls to make it simple . . . just to get through that time.”

  1. Simplify your work

If you’re a single parent who has never had to deal with the finances, you might be in a spot where you’re needing to bring in money. If you’ve been out of the workforce, it’s time to go back to the basics and piece your resumé together. 

Rachel reminds us that if the income is coming from one stream or maybe even two, that will be helpful for the logistics of life. “Look at your past experience and what you’re naturally bent towards. If you’re great at details, could you be a virtual assistant? Could you do that and still have the ability to be at home with your kids (if that was something you were doing before)? 

Also know that jobs aren’t permanent. You may plug into something for nine months and that’s great and that’s going to get you through a season, just to get money in the door and keep those four walls covered.”

  1. Look towards the future

“As you gain experience in the workforce again, you can begin to look toward the next thing. If your dream was to be able to be home with your kids, start thinking about what passions you have that you can plug into your job. Look out and say, ‘Here’s my long-term plan. Run some numbers, do a retirement calculator. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel . . . ‘I’ve got to get through the next twenty years and I want to enjoy my work while I do that, but I’m going to work towards that number.’” 

Once you’re out of crisis mode, it helps to be able to look toward the future and decide what it is that you really want to do. Knowing where you’re going is a key part of enjoying your life in the present, but also preparing yourself (and your money) for the future.  Rachel reminded us that, “When you know where you’re going, it’s helpful to be able to ask yourself, ‘If that’s where I want to be, what’s it going to take for that to happen?’ If I want that dream to happen, whether it’s retiring in the future, or starting a business, or taking the kids on a trip. Whatever that dream is can actually be the motivator for you when you’re tempted to purchase unnecessary things and can help you save and go towards that dream.”

You Have Permission to Not Be Perfect

Solo Parent: If you’re starting this New Year wondering how you’re going to make ends meet, or even how you’re going to remember to keep all the plates spinning on your own . . . you’re not alone. Maybe you were the one keeping track of the budget, making mortgage payments, and paying the bills. Or maybe your spouse was the one doing that and you’re left trying to keep up and tackle yet another important thing that got added to your list of responsibilities. 

Either way, Rachel reminds us that we need to give ourselves grace. If you’re overwhelmed because you’re now paying bills (something maybe your ex did), don’t worry. It’s going to be okay. “God forbid, if you’re late on one payment because you totally forgot, guess what? You can do it the next month. You know it’s coming now. There’s going to be mistakes along the way. If the worst was that you missed a rent payment, they’re not going to kick you out that first month. They’re not going to foreclose on you for missing one payment. There’s still that level of, ‘Okay, I can make a mistake and now I know how to plug into a system.’ None of this is going to be fatal in this process—even though it feels like it. 

There’s only so much we can take in life. So trying to do 18 different things with your money is not realistic and not good for you. I always tell people: do not make major financial decisions or changes until you process the grief. We want to be as healthy as possible before we start making decisions with money that are not necessities in the moment.” 

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