Single parents are often under a lot more stress than couples. They’re either solely or mainly responsible for the needs of their children and don’t have the same in-home support. This, in many cases, multiplies the stresses of parenting. There are a lot of things that a single parent will have to learn how to master, yet one of the most challenging seems to be financial matters.
Managing your finances to ensure that both you and your children’s needs are met is already hard. However, when you only have one source of income, the need for financial relief is often greater. This is especially true for single parents who recently divorced, their significant other passed away, or the non-custodial parent has chosen not to care for the children at all.
When you’re not sure how you’re going to feed your kids, keep a roof over their heads, clean clothes on their backs, or afford other necessities in life, the stress can overwhelm you. Single parents often stretch themselves to the max. When it becomes too much to deal with many become physically and emotionally overwhelmed. As the debt increases and the funds don’t seem to stretch very far, some even turn to drugs and alcohol to cope or fall into a deep depression. Their lives spiral out of control as a result of addiction and untreated mental illness and they end up needing to visit a drug detox center, take medications, or seek counseling to get back on their feet.
How to Manage Your Finances
It can seem like the world is crashing in on you and that you’ll never be able to get your finances under control. However, that is far from the truth. There are lots of thriving single parents who learned tips and tricks that helped them to better manage their finances, which, in turn, improved their overall health. Here are some suggestions on how you can get a handle on your finances and raise your children without all the stress.
Get Serious About Debt
One of the biggest issues with being able to effectively manage your money is debt. When you have so much money that you owe creditors and other institutions, it takes away from the money you could be putting towards your family.
So, whether you like it or not, the first thing you want to do is get serious about your debt. Pull out all your bills and a copy of all three credit reports to get a clear picture of what you owe. Then, based on your income, determine how much you’d need to pay each month to get these bills down. There are many debt repayment methods out there, however, the snowball method (paying small bills and then snowballing the money you used for those bills to pay larger ones) seems to work best.
Be Mindful of Your Spending Habits
Another major problem with developing a healthy family budget and affording the things your children needs is your spending habits. When you’re not effectively monitoring how much you spend, you could be wasting a lot of income that could be put to better use. You can use a money management application, your online banking notification system, or create a spending journal to keep track of all your spending over the next 30 days.
Review your records to see where your money is going after bills are paid. Are there things that you could go without? For instance, you may realize that you’re spending too much on streaming services, cable television, takeout, or outings with the kids. Eliminate the streaming services you don’t use, ditch the cable since you have streaming services, learn recipes to cook at home more to avoid ordering out and find more affordable ways to enjoy quality time with your kids. This should free up a considerable amount of money.
Create a Budget
Now that you know how much debt you have and where you’ve been wasting money, you’re ready to create a budget that will allow you to care for yourself and your children. Grab all your monthly bills and your other expenses. Using a pen and paper, spreadsheet, or money management app, begin plugging in the amounts owed and the due dates. Then, factor your takehome pay and distribute this to each of the bills and expenditures you have.
Any money you have leftover can be put into a savings account or contributed to your debt repayment plan to get that burden off your back sooner. If you don’t have any money left over, it is at this point you may need to consider a secondary source of income. You could take on another part-time job or look for ways to earn money on the side to boost your income.
You want nothing more than for your children to have a good life. One way of doing this is by making sure you can provide for them financially. Naturally, it can be overwhelming when you’re finances are out of whack or appear to be minimal compared to your bills, debt, and other expenses. Before you stress yourself out and get sick, take the time to use the above-mentioned tips to get a handle on your finances.