A single mom is entirely responsible for the family finances. And though it may seem impossible to take care of children’s needs and also save up for the future, you would be surprised to know how a simple budget would make a big difference.
Budgeting as a single mom
You don’t have to get confused by looking at the several available budgeting methods. The central aim of all budgets is the same: know what is happening and plan accordingly to save. With a little help from a budget tailored for a single mom, anyone can not only pay the bills on time but also save up for the future. Once you understand your financial situation, it will be easier to track your payments, cut down on spending, and set aside money for saving. Here are some ways to maximize the budget:
Get up out of that debt
If you’re in debt, your first priority should be to pay them all as soon as possible. The faster you get out of it, the more dollars you save that go away in interest. It may be difficult and tight until you pay out the debt, but every sacrifice will be worth it once you become debt-free.
Your emergency fund should be a significant amount that will meet the daily essentials for three to six months in case of job loss or health issues. You should not use these funds for unexpected expenses that might pop up now and then.
Think long term
Just like emergency funds, create another category for long-term goals — most importantly for your children’s college. After that, retirement is the most important goal. Apart from them, housing, vacation, and any other dream are other important long-term goals. No matter how difficult it is to pay all the bills each month, try to save even a few dollars somehow — only small amounts add up as a fund in the future.
As a single mom, you would have so many responsibilities. It is, therefore, highly likely that you might forget to pay some bills before the due date. You will be charged a penalty and also lose points in your credit score in case you miss a payment. Scheduling payments will make everything easy for you.
Here’s a tip: Schedule payments on the same day you receive your paycheck. By doing this, you can prevent overdrawing your account. After that, schedule transfers to your savings account so that you wouldn’t use the money that should be saved.
Adapt to a frugal lifestyle, just for sometime
Finding ways to cut costs literally every minute in everything we do is the only way to reach our savings goal. Simple things like sharing a TV subscription, carpooling, buying secondhand clothes, and learning to cook your favorite dish instead of eating at a restaurant will make a huge difference. You can also create fun challenges with rewards that will motivate you to save.
Look for coupons, discounts, and free entertainment
Though visiting an amusement park with your kids on the weekend can be fun, it can cost a lot of money. If you can find coupons or promotions for entertainment and leisure activities, you can save a considerable amount without any effort. If there aren’t any discounts, you can also teach your children to enjoy playing in the park or going out for a picnic.
Include your children’s miscellaneous expenses
Children’s expenses are always more than they may appear, and it isn’t fixed either. Apart from school tuition, other expenses like uniforms, field trips, and weekend leisure should be also be included in a budget. Moreover, more expenses might spring up when you least expect it. Thus, you must be prepared for such miscellaneous expenses as well. If you’re willing, you can also train your children to spend within limits set by the budget to inculcate good spending habits right from childhood.
Once the basics are set, you will have to include the monthly recurring payments like child care or health insurance, etc.
Work towards a better future
If you cannot save anything even after cutting expenses, you have no other choice but to increase your income by working part-time, after working hours. You can also perform well in your day job and ask for a raise or look for other open positions with better pay.
If a raise isn’t possible, you can look for part-time jobs with flexible timings. If you are lucky to get a job with flexible work hours and hourly payments, you will not miss out on spending time with your children, family, or friends.