Sometimes, life comes at you fast. If your family is one of the 15 million single-parent households in this country, you already know it’s a jungle out there.
Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to keep yourself in the black, even if you’ve got a lot on your plate. Some of the most effective budgeting tips for single moms won’t take a second away from your daily responsibilities.
1. Maintain a Healthy Emergency Fund
How would you pay for all of your basic living expenses like housing, food, and other necessities if something were to happen? Supplies for school, healthcare, and other important parts of life should all be included in your emergency fund, with contingency, if at all possible.
What makes a great emergency plan? Ideally, you should have at least six months’ worth of all your expenses for you and your children in the bank, ready to withdraw at a moment’s notice.
If you can accomplish this, you’ll never be blindsided by a disaster. Unexpected illness, debilitating injury, and even something like the loss of a job are only a few examples of how this emergency fund can protect your family.
2. Cut Costs When You Can
Some parts of life deserve ample investment—your health, the food you feed your kids, and their futures should never come at the cost of things like entertainment and other wants. Eating out at restaurants is one obvious example. If you have the time, cooking at home will always be a more economical choice.
When you can, try to find ways to spend less on these wants or even nothing at all. Your local library, for example, offers you books, movies, and, in some cases, even access to other forms of enrichment like free classes online. Buying some things secondhand—like electronics, appliances, and clothing—can also save you a bundle without compromising on quality.
3. Always Be Thinking Long-Term
Long-term goals like owning a home, sending your kids to college, and your retirement should all be a part of every short-term financial decision you make. Thinking in this way is one of the best and most effective budgeting tips for single moms. Keep your eyes on the prize and your money where your heart is.
Nothing worth having comes easy, but through small steps that take place daily and at every financial transaction, you’ll be on the road to a better way of life.
4. Use Tools That Make It Easy
Budgeting apps and software, tools to do your taxes, and services that pay your bills automatically each month can often be found free online. They take the thinking out of your future. That way, all of your energy will be devoted to simply working hard and saving as much as possible.
Inquire into any other services that your bank or other fiduciary institution can offer you. There’s always a better way to get it all done, and many of these tools will save you money after using them for a while.
5. Avoid New Debt
The debt trap is a hallmark of American life, but you don’t have to be a victim. Try to live within your means and do what you can to make things like vehicles, appliances, and other big purchases last as long as possible.
Credit cards are another dangerous game to play. Utilizing a cash-only system à la Dave Ramsey asks you to assign each part of your budget to a physical paper envelope. You stash each allotted budget in cash in an envelope, which forces you to see how much you are spending with each purchase.
6. Take Everything Into Account
Every single penny counts. Sometimes, small things like hidden fees, and services we forgot we subscribed to can all whittle away insidiously at your nest egg.
There are so many financial pitfalls you can easily avoid. Accrued interest, for example, becomes less of an issue if you’re able to pay a loan off sooner rather than later.
How Single Moms Can Set the Stage for Success
Some of these effective budgeting tips for single moms will be more obvious than others—not everybody has the time, expertise, or institutional knowledge required to navigate our financial system like a future millionaire.
It’s not always easy, but we can help. For more advice and our full line of lending services, our doors are always open!