How to Budget as a Single Parent
Creating a budget is generally considered to NOT be a very fun task, but that may be even more true when trying to budget as a single parent. It may be especially difficult if you’re a single mom or dad trying to support your household and children on a fixed income with little to no outside help.
Do not fear because I’m going to show you how to budget (and save money) as a single parent with a few timeless tips, suggestions, tricks, and ideas. You will learn how to save money for the future, as well as take care of all your financial responsibilities.
Step 1 – Ask for Assistance and Get Help
- When there are children in the picture, state and federal agencies are available for assistance. Contact the local Social Service agency in your area and ask for help. They can offer guidance and direction for food, medical needs, housing assistance, and legal advice too. Local churches and non-profit organizations may offer additional support.
Step 2 – Set a Budget and Stick to it
- One of the first rules of proper money management is to create a realistic spending budget and stick to it. You can use our FREE online budgeting tool: http://www.onlinebudgetadvisor.com. Just answer some simple questions, and it will create a free budget analysis and Action Plan report that includes a visual chart showing exactly where your money is going each month.
Step 3 – Figure Out the “Wants” versus the “Needs”
- After reviewing your budget and Action Plan, decide what is essential to efficiently run your household (needs). Then, decide which items are merely “wants” and try to make some cut-backs by getting rid of them, i.e. gym membership, magazine subscription, morning lattes.
Step 4 – Non-Profit Credit Counseling for Unsecured Debt
- If you have a decent amount of unsecured debt like credit cards, and you are having a hard time making the minimum payments or failing behind, then it’s a smart idea to seek help from a reputable Non-Profit credit counseling agency. They can work with you and your creditors to reduce interest rates, waive late and over-limit fees, stop collection calls, and consolidate the debt into one monthly payment.
Step 5 – Coupons and Sales are Your New Best Friends
- Coupons can help you purchase things at a discounted price to help you save money. Become a serious coupon clipper and take advantage of “double coupon” days. Also, steer clear of big name brands and try purchasing Store brands instead. They can give you the same satisfaction at half the price, and if you look closely most have the same ingredients!
Step 6 – Conserve Energy and Reduce Utility Bills
- Keep thermostats at a consistent temperature that is comfortable for everyone in the home, avoid changing the temperature often, and make sure that all air filters are clean. Also, turn off unused lights and unplug any unused appliances. Here are ten changes that you can make to help your home be more energy efficient: http://www.bankrate.com/finance/smart-spending/10-ways-to-save-money-on-your-utility-bill-1.aspx
Step 7 – Keep a Very Close Eye on Your Checking Account
- Keeping track of exactly what amount you have to spend will eliminate overspending and additional fees from the bank. Enroll in online banking so that you can track the most recent transactions that have been made. Utilize free Apps such as www.Mint.com to easily see the most recent purchases and a breakdown of your spending habits.
Step 8 – Start an Emergency Savings Account
- Saving a little money from each paycheck or bonus check can provide a safety net for unexpected expenses and emergencies. I know it seems impossible to do, but even saving $5 or $10 from each paycheck begins to add up and could save you big time further down the road. Use an interest-bearing savings account to make your money work for you!
Step 9 – Live Within Your Means
- I know this is easier said than done, but you really DON’T have to “keep up with the Joneses” especially when you’re a single parent. Don’t be ashamed to accept hand-me-downs, visit thrift stores, or shop on the Internet for used items that you know your children will soon outgrow such as clothing, strollers, swing sets, cribs, etc.
- Websites such as www.Amazon.com, www.eBay.com and Craigslist.com offer plenty of household and children’s items at bargain prices. Do some comparison shopping and don’t forget to ask friends and family for their help with finding things or borrowing items from them.
Step 10 – Have Faith in Yourself & Be Confident
- Faith, strength, confidence, and a lot of hard work will eventually improve your lives. Concentrate on the positive and surround yourself with positive, helpful people to spur your motivation and reach your goals. You are not alone, and there are millions of single parents out there making it work every single day, and you can too!
If you need help setting up a budget, eliminating your credit card debt, or just have some money management questions, please give us a call toll-free at 1-866-699-2227 for free credit counseling. We’re a national non-profit agency that has been assisting consumers from all walks of life since 1968.
Do you have any budgeting advice or money saving tips for single parents? We’d love for you to share them with our online community by leaving a comment below. Thank you!