When you sit down this year to write your New Year’s resolutions, divorced father, we strongly discourage including ill-defined and unachievable goals, like losing fifty pounds or earning $50,000 a year more. In their place, include items that can be both reasonably achieved and that will pay lasting dividends.
- Give yourself a financial check-up: Take a look at the outflows of cash in your single father household, from insurance to mortgage to cable/telephone/internet to garbage removal. Using your checkbook (or virtual checkbook) register, list all of the vendors to whom you write checks every month. Then, shop your services. If you can save$50/month by changing your communications provider or $5/month by changing your trash hauler, both of which I’ve recently done, then you reduce your expenses by $600 and $60 per year, respectively!
- Pick one unhealthy food you buy, and replace it: Maybe, as you walk down the snack aisle at the grocery store every couple of weeks and, out of habit, you grab a jumbo bag of Doritos. Then, you and your kids eat them. This year, rather than buying Doritos, you buy a jumbo bag of mixed nuts. While the cost per pound of snack may be more for the nuts, the nuts contain better nutrition and are more filling that the chips. As a result, you tend to eat fewer nuts than you would have eaten Doritos, so the nuts turn out to be less costly. In addition, you reduce your calorie intake by, maybe, 75 a week. Considering about 3,500 calories adds one pound of fat to the body, switching chips to nuts will save a pound a year! This works particularly well with exchanging sugary drinks with unsweetened teas, water, and other beverages.
- Choose one activity you can share with your children: The benefits of a shared activity are two-fold. First, you connect with your children in a constructive, non-routine way, which I believe will facilitate communication as your children grow older. Second, you and your children exercise and learn something. Whether it’s hiking or biking or even bird watching – which anyone can do just about anywhere, each of these and other activities provide the benefits of creating memories, building a common experiences, regular exercise, and continuing education.