HOW TO THRIVE ON A SINGLE-PARENT BUDGET
Being a single mum can be challenging. You have to worry about everything from raising your kids to working to keeping your house in order. And on top of all that, you have to worry about money. Of course, money is always a worry for families. Still, it can be especially tough for those on a single-parent budget.
It’s no secret that raising a child costs a lot of money. Your budget is tight. You have to cover all the expenses yourself, and often, you don’t have anyone to help you out financially. You’re managing as best you can, trying to make ends meet. But you’re finding it stressful to provide for your family.
You’re wondering how you can make it work.
Fortunately, you can do a few things to ease the financial burden of being a single parent. With a little planning and discipline, you can build a healthy bank balance, provide for your children, and even thrive on a single-parent budget.
When I first became a single mother, I had no idea how to survive on a tight budget. I was up to my ears in debt. But, after some trial and error, I’ve finally figured out the system that works.
So today, I’m going to give you some single mum budgeting tips on how to save money as a single parent. From budgeting to cutting costs, I’ll help you make ends meet and keep your finances in the black.
Establish a relationship with money
First things first, if you have a poor relationship with money. It will be tough for you to manage it effectively. I’ll go as far as saying that; if we have a negative mindset when it comes to money, it’s almost impossible to get ahead.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of overspending. Prioritising expensive materialistic items over necessities. Or constantly finding ways to avoid our money issues instead of facing them head-on. With a negative association to something, it can often be challenging to see the positives. So, as a result, we tend to avoid it.
It can be the same with money. If you have a poor relationship with money, you will avoid it. When we avoid something, we don’t learn. For example, suppose you’ve had a bad experience with money in the past or find it tricky to manage your finances. In that case, you likely have a poor relationship with money.
The first step to fixing a poor relationship with money is to identify the problem and understand where it stems from.
I realise that improving your relationship with money does not happen overnight, but with the right mindset and behaviours, you can start moving in the right direction. It’s critical to set aside some time to reflect on the state of your finances and identify areas for improvement.
Scott Pape from “The Barefoot Investor” recommends booking time with yourself for a ‘financial date night’. Why? Because he states, “Money talk is better with garlic bread and wine.” A positive association with nutting out your single-parent budget will motivate you to do it.
As a single mother, I’m sure you have plenty of responsibilities and obligations that demand your time and attention. But it’s also essential to set aside some time to plan your financial future.
Make a single-parent budget and stick to it.
Second, even if you are a millionaire, you will be unable to successfully manage your money if you do not know where it is coming from and where it is going. It’s a cop-out to say I don’t have enough cash when you have not invested the time to address your spending.
The best place to start is by establishing where your money is going and where you can cut back without sacrificing your needs. Then make a list of all your short- and long-term financial goals.
Next, determine the actions you must take to achieve those goals, and set aside a specific amount of time to work on each one. This will help you prioritise and plan a course of action, which will ultimately help you reach your goals much faster.
When you have a budget, you start making decisions based on facts and goals rather than your impulses. Going through a process of evaluating your spending helps you build a healthy relationship with money and guides you toward thriving on a single-parent budget.
There are plenty of books and blogs on how to structure your budget. However, my fave is “Your Ultimate Guide to Household Budgeting – Money with Jess” by Jessica Irvine. The whole book is like a budgeting worksheet with templates and loads of money-saving hacks.
I get no affiliate income from recommending her; I just totally love her work. But if at this time money is tight and you can not afford her book, grab my free (almost as good) version, “Plan your budget goals, step by step worksheet.” (it’ll just cost you your email address).
Become a bargain shopper.
Being frugal with your single-parent income does not just end at buying things on special. Sure it’s great to save money on your grocery bills, and every dollar counts. But to thrive on a single-parent budget, you will need to invest deeper.
So contact your bank, your credit card company and your insurance provider. Ask them to lower your monthly fees and contributions or assist you in reducing your interest rates. Go through your subscriptions. Do you need Stan, Netflix and Disney? Do you need everything you’re paying for? What can you do without?
For example, When I went through my separation, I was thousands of dollars in debt. Still, I also had every insurance under the sun costing me hundreds of dollars a month. I was able to cut back to just the bare essentials and set up separate accounts for extra medical and veterinary expenses. These accumulated in time, without me even noticing. When the bill came in, the funds were just there without me having to lodge claims or ask for help.
Now I’m not advising that the above is precisely what you should do. I do not know your financial situation. Nor do I have the qualifications. However, the point I’m trying to demonstrate here is that you can thrive on a single-parent budget just by being creative in seeking out new ways to manage your money.
Most importantly, being frugal teaches you to value what you have and helps you be less wasteful. This not only helps your wallet but also allows you to build a relationship with money, which will help you make better decisions in the future.
Educate yourself and your children.
Addressing your attitude towards money, tracking your spending, and becoming frugal with your money can be very empowering. However, once you have a handle on your current situation, ensure to invest in your financial education.
A great place to start is https://moneysmart.gov.au. They have a myriad of tools and educational resources to build your financial knowledge and confidence. Not only will this strengthen your money management skills, but it will also set a fantastic example for your children.
By teaching your children the value of a dollar and the importance of saving, you’ll encourage them to develop a strong sense of financial responsibility. This will help them build a solid foundation for their financial future, no matter their life path.
Find ways to make extra money.
It can be very isolating when you are the only person responsible for keeping the family financially in the black. This is especially true for single mothers with young children. For this reason, single mothers often struggle to come up with ideas for earning extra income.
It can be challenging, especially if you have chosen to be a stay-at-home parent. However, with a positive mindset and some creativity, it is possible to earn a little extra money from various sources. Here are just a few ideas to get started.
- Sell your unwanted stuff.
Selling items on sites like eBay or Facebook Marketplace is one reliable way to make extra money if you’re in a pinch. To generate additional money, you might sell any used stuff you no longer need online. Such as furniture, home appliances, clothing, or anything else. If you’re serious about it, you could even do it for others, earning a small commission on each sale. Take good photos and write a good description, and you’ll do great.
- Sell your services.
Platforms like Fiverr and Airtasker have revolutionised the gig economy. Even though most services start at $5, some sellers earn six figures or more per year. You may sell almost any service through these platforms in person, like gardening, ironing, cleaning, making or even transporting things. Remotely, like, resume writing, copywriting, social media post creation or virtual assisting. To thrive, however, you must provide value and receive good reviews.
- Create an online course
Turn your knowledge and skills into income. Are you an expert on knitting or make the best pies? Are you handy with a drill or have some other talent? Whatever you are good at can be used to teach others.
There are various forms of assistance available to single mothers to help them to thrive on your single-parent budget. If you haven’t already, the first stop I would make is https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/parenting-payment to see if you qualify for any government benefits.
Several charitable and non-profit organisations also provide services to single parents. These organisations can aid single mothers in need with financial assistance, emotional support, and other help. https://singlemum.com.au/links/single mother crisis support/ has an extensive link list for crisis support.
https://beanstalkmums.com.au is also a fantastic single mum blogging site that covers articles on charities. It also provides a myriad of discounts and contacts. And it’s just a bloody good read!
And of course, you can also reach out to me for counselling if you need to work through any past traumas or experiences which affect your relationship with money. Or for coaching if you need proactive goal-setting assistance, accountability and support. Just follow this link to book.