About one in every four children (around 17.4 million children), under the age of 18 years is being raised by a single mom.
Raising a child as a single mom can be the most challenging task. Almost all of us encounter stress, but there are higher risks of getting stressed out if you are a single parent. About 80 percent of the 12 million single parent families were headed by single mothers in 2014, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
No matter what the reason of your singlehood is, the challenges are many. Right from paying bills, to managing the home and children, taking care of entertainment and a lot more. However, one common issue with most of the single moms is financial stress. The financial goals of a single parent are not much different from those of a two-parent family, but achieving them is much difficult if you have to do it alone.
Being a single parent, you must come up with a strategy that will help you balance the emotional and financial needs. This might sound easy, but it is never easy. But you don’t have much of a choice. You have to take care of things and get things in place as soon as possible to make sure your children are not affected negatively. Here are four tips that will help you reduce the financial stress:
1. Start Planning Early
As a single parent, you don’t have much time to mourn for your loss. You have to act quickly and start planning your finances early. Think about long term financial planning. As a single parent, your budgets will be leaner, so you need to know where the money goes. Take help from the professionals to know about the financial plans that will help you secure your as well as your children’s future. Look for insurance plans, child support plans and government support plans for single moms.
You also need to have several backup plans, so that you can manage work and home during crisis periods. Make a list of people who can help you pick-up your kids when you are stuck at work, taking care of sick children while you return from home.
2. Track Your Spending and Trim Expenses
As a single parent, it is very important to get real about your situation. Have an idea about your earnings and expenditures. Identify how you can trim the expenses so that you can save more for your retirement as well as have enough back-up for your children. For instance, if you can consider shifting to a home with a lower rent or cut the costs of eating out. You can cut down costs by:
- Reducing monthly housing costs
- Reducing energy bills
- Doing the chores yourself
- Avoiding impulsive expenses
Budgeting is important for people from all walks of life but it is crucial for single parents. By working out the monthly budget and sticking to it, single parent families can keep the finances from going off the rails. Bucket budgeting is a simple trick that can help you manage your finances efficiently. The idea is simple – you create different accounts to handle various expenses. For example, you create four different accounts – one for food, housing expenses, one for long term expenses and the last one for discretionary spending. This way you will have funds ready for everything and you will even have some money to enjoy with your kids and friends.
3. Try to be Content with Less
Oftentimes the reason for the financial upheaval for single parents is the fact that they work too hard to keep up their lifestyle. Your children will learn what you show them. So if you try and become content with what you have, even they will learn the same.
Start with yourself, start having things that you need and cut out everything that is optional. Even if you need something, try getting the ones that cost reasonably. You can even try out looking for deals and discounts on products you need so that you can save money on your purchases. Several websites like freebies.org offer deals and free products every day; so you can try out these to cut down the monthly costs.
Teach your kids to value things that they already have and things that money can’t buy. Instead of taking your kids out for a big outing, take them to the nearby park, make something creative for them or ask them to take up a hobby that isn’t too expensive.
4. Think about Multiple Income Sources
By creating multiple streams of income, you can overcome the financial hardships and make your family happier. Even if the extra income does not allow you to meet up the everyday expenses, you can add them up to create big savings for your retirement.
If you play the piano well, you can consider giving piano classes during the weekends to earn some extra money; you can babysit during weekends; if you are good at writing you can help professors to evaluate and edit their projects, help lawyers with drafting, etc. Small amounts add up to become big and by saving a very little amount of money every month, you can create a better future for yourself and your children.
A Final Word
As a single parent, you must try to stay positive. Getting overwhelmed with the responsibilities is easier but accepting the challenges and living up to them is much more satisfying. Taking care of your family and the financial crisis can be difficult, especially if you are fighting grief, so you need to start planning early.
Ask for help whenever required and take out some time for yourself. Oftentimes, single parents become so overburdened with responsibilities that they stop caring for themselves. Never make that mistake! You have a lot of responsibilities and you need to stay fit and happy to bear them. Treat yourself, spend some time alone and take good care of yourself.
Being a single parent can be very difficult, but with the help of proper planning, you can overcome all the hurdles!
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