When it comes to raising children, most people would prefer not to do it on their own. However, things don’t always go as planned. Many women are single moms from the get-go, while others find themselves raising their kids alone after a divorce or death.
You’re solely responsible for everything as a single mom—from making paying bills to childcare and everything else in between. How can you take on all these responsibilities without going broke or having a breakdown? Here’s how to survive financially as a single mom.
Know Where Your Money is Going
First things first: know your money inside and out. In many relationships, one person takes care of the money, while the other ignores it. As a single mom, you need to be the one who takes care of it, so if you’ve never been into finances, it’s time to change that.
One of the best ways to survive financially as a single mom is to get organized. Start by using an Excel spreadsheet, Google sheet, app, or some other method to track your income and expenses. Make a list of everything you earn as well as everything you spend. This visual device will help you see where your money is going and possibly be the wake-up call you need to change your spending habits. Just make sure to keep it updated, as income and expenses can change over time.
Create a Budget
One of the most important steps in how to survive financially as a single mom is to make a budget. It’s also one of the main steps in effective financial planning. This is where that Excel spreadsheet comes in handy.
Once you know where your money is going, there are various rules of thumb to consider. Some experts say to create a budget that will allow you to contribute 20% of your income toward a savings account, but that may not be realistic at first, especially when you’re living paycheck to paycheck.
The most important thing is to make sure you get your bills paid and spend your money on necessary expenses, such as rent, groceries, utilities, healthcare, and car payments. If you have credit card bills and other debt, make sure to make the minimum payments.
Frugal and cheap are not synonymous. Frugal means buying things intentionally and essentially getting the most bang for your buck. Look for ways to save money and even get things for free—trade items with friends and neighbors. Use coupons and take advantage of all possible discounts. Craigslist and other local sites are great ways to find good deals—just make sure it’s something you will use. Remember, no matter how cheap an item is, it isn’t a good deal if you’ll never use it.
Plan Your Meals
To survive financially as a single mom, you need to cut costs at the grocery store. Instead of getting what you want to eat, buy what’s on sale. Peruse the sales ads at your local stores and plan your meals around the foods on sale. You’ll end up buying what’s in season, so this will help you save money. Once you buy the items, you can go online to find easy recipes.
Tell Your Kids No
Your kids may want a candy bar, toy, or other items every time you visit the store. The best way to avoid this is to not take your kids to the store with you. If this is not possible, then you need to be strong and tell them “no.” These small purchases add up over time and can ruin your budget if you choose to give in.
You don’t need to get too detailed about your finances, but you need to teach your kids that food is a priority. If they want something, they can do chores around the house to earn money or wait until their birthday or Christmas.
Use Autopay for Your Bills
Stop worrying about your bills every month. Instead, use autopay and just set them and forget them. Many people are afraid to do this because they’re afraid they will unexpectedly run out of money and then face overdraft fees from their bank. But if you make regular income, setting your bill payments keeps you from forgetting to pay them, which can come with late fees and increased interest rates.
Cut Daycare Costs
If you’re a full-time working mother, you may have your child in daycare. Daycare is a huge expense, though. Depending on where you live, the average daycare can exceed $15,000 a year. That may be more than your rent or mortgage!
This means you need to do what you can to cut this cost. Depending on your income, you may qualify for a government program that can help. There may be other daycare options in your area that are cheaper, such as private daycare. You may be able to enlist family and friends to help with childcare as well.
Start an At-Home Business
If you have extra time and have a skill others can use, starting a business or doing freelance work can help you rake in some extra income. Writing, website building, arts and crafts, and selling items are just some of the things you can do at home in your spare time. Even if you make just a few hundred dollars a month, that can pay for a bill or two.
Seek Support from Other Single Moms
Getting support from others is a great way to survive financially as a single mom. Try to make friends with other single moms you may encounter at work, at your kid’s school, or in the neighborhood.
You can also look for support groups for single moms. These single moms have been there and done that, so they can be an invaluable source of information. They can give you the advice you need when you are struggling. Plus, you can often call upon these single moms to help you out when needed. Need last-minute childcare? Want to know the cheapest places to buy diapers and clothes? Single moms to the rescue!
Don’t Be Afraid to Get Help
Sometimes, to survive financially as a single mom, you need to ask for help. Many people who are financially struggling want to make it on their own without any help. While that’s a great goal to have, sometimes it’s just not feasible. You likely qualify for many local, state, and federal programs that provide financial assistance based on your income. The government offers assistance for food, such as food stamps and the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program.
There may be other public assistance programs available, based on where you live. Many states have programs for food and housing. Locally, you might be able to find food and clothing at churches and food banks. If you’re internet savvy, you can do some research and find out what you may be eligible for. Swallow your pride and take advantage of this help. It’s better than you and your child starving or being homeless.
Learn More with Power Finance Texas
Now that you know how to survive financially as a single mom, you can use these tips to spend your money wisely, get your bills paid, and possibly even save some money. Power Finance Texas offers various financial solutions to help you get through situations when money is tight.