Surviving Financially as a Single Parent
Making ends meet can be a struggle for two parent homes, and it can be even more difficult for single parents. Even if you are surviving now, you can’t know what the future will bring you. If you aren’t careful, you and your children could want so many things that your buying habits land you in debt. Financial planning is important for any family, but single parent families may need to take a few more steps to ensure that their family will be financially stable.
Save Now, Splurge Later
So many people use their paychecks to pay bills and buy what they think they need all month long, and then save whatever money they have left (if they have money left). The truth is that the most financially successful people decide to save a specific amount of money every month (for a vacation, a car, an emergency fund, or even for retirement) and use the rest of their paycheck to survive. With this plan, you can put some of your hard earned money into savings, and use later use your savings to buy something special. You will feel much better using this strategy than you would if you took out a loan instead.
Budget, Budget, Budget!
You probably already know that a budget is the only reliable way to take control of your spending. Everything in life needs a plan, especially if you are a parent, and you most likely have great planning skills already. Writing down a plan that shows exactly where your money is supposed to go will help you stick to the plan and figure out ways to save your money.
Following certain steps while planning your budget may be able to help you stay out of debt. You will first need to keep your checking account in order. If you know exactly what is in your bank account, you will be more aware of what you can spend, which will keep you from excessively shopping. Next, look at your bank statements at the end of the month to see exactly where your money goes, and use that information to decide where you can cut back. What we need and what we want are two very different things. Taking away a few of the things you want could make a huge difference in your savings.
The last step in planning your budget is to make a commitment for yourself and for your children. Cut out extra expenses and put that money toward an emergency fund or to a savings account for your child’s education. Follow your plan for a few months, and then reassess your plan to see if your efforts paid off. You may need to make a few more adjustments, but at least you and your children know that you are trying to improve your financial situation.
As a single parent, you already know the financial burden daily necessities can place on a family, and sometimes it can seem like your situation may be too hard to handle. If you are having trouble with your finances, don’t try to struggle through it on your own. You are not the first single parent to struggle with finances, and you won’t be the last. Research government agencies and other programs that strive to help single parents. Some of these government institutions include the Chamber of Commerce, TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), and YWCA (Young Women’s Christian Association).
As a single parent, you need to be careful where you spend your money and keep a very basic budget, but you also need to know that you are not alone. Even the best parents can fall behind in their finances, and there is no shame in finding financial assistance. Single parenting can be a huge burden on your finances, but you can lessen that load with the right help.
Amy Young is an author of articles relating to business and financial advice for single parents.