Being a single parent means you're solely responsible for your family finances. As the provider, it also means that things can get expensive.
When you're shouldering the financial burden alone, it's doubly necessary to properly plan out your finances so you can manage your expenses, take care of your children and still build wealth. A one-income household has its challenges, but it’s still possible to take control of your spending and plan for the future. It all starts with a budget.
Budgeting as a Single Mom
A budget is a plan for your money. While there are several budgeting methods to choose from, the idea is the same — plan where your money is going.
A winning single mom budget will help you avoid financial stress and have peace of mind instead. After tracking your expenses, you might find that you need to stop shopping in order to pay for other necessities or look at weekly ads to save money on groceries.
Figuring out how to budget with one income doesn’t have to be a hassle. Here are four ways to create a single mom budget that'll put you on the road to success.
Single Mom Budget Strategy #1: Prioritize your expenses for yourself AND your children
When creating your budget, be sure to include not only your own expenses but also those of your children. This is something many people forget to do. School activities, clothes, trips out, and weekend activities are all things for your kids that should be budgeted for. This way, you know exactly how to plan out your income each month.
For newly single moms, your budget should also take into account expenses that you’ll now be taking on. For example, will you need to pay for child care or health insurance? A sitter once a week? Are you paying insurance premiums?
Single Mom Budget Strategy #2: Build up your emergency fund to include your children
Your goal for your emergency fund should be to have three to six months of your basic living expenses (i.e. housing, food, etc.) put away in the event of a true emergency, such as a job loss.
But when you have kids, you need to include their basic expenses as part of the amount you save in your emergency account. Keep in mind anything that they may need for school (i.e. tuition, textbooks, etc.) or other commitment.
Single Mom Budget Strategy #3: Find free, fun things to do
Kids' activities and outings can cost a lot of money. From paying entry fees at amusement parks and the zoo, to buying foods and drinks, things can get really pricey. So why not take advantage of free activities to do with your kids?
Many museums offer free first Saturdays — you can pack a nice lunch and visit the museum for a completely free day. Your local library may offer free activities or events, too. Go on a picnic, take a hike outdoors or come up with other fun yet free things to do with your kids. If you need more inspiration, Pinterest has tons of ideas!
Single Mom Budget Strategy #4: Put money aside to support long-term goals for yourself and your children
Be sure to include a line item in your budget that goes toward savings for your children. For instance, things like back-to-school shopping, future school trips, clubs, and activities, etc. can really add up. And of course, don't forget about saving for college! It's all about planning ahead by putting money aside.
Don't forget to save money for your own long-term goals such as retirement, owning a home, starting a business, or traveling. No matter how little you're able to save, make it a goal to save something each month. Even the smallest amounts add up!
Are you a single parent? How do you save money with your kids? Trying to figure it out still? Try out these tips above! As I mentioned, it's all about creating a solid budget and plan for your finances — one that includes yourself and your children.