Being a parent is the most rewarding and important job you’ll ever have, but it can certainly come with its challenges. Being a single parent can be even more challenging, especially when it comes to finances. But there are many money tips for single parents that can help improve their budget, such as analyzing their spending and focusing on prioritizing costs.
Money Tips for Single Parents: What Research Shows
The challenges single parent households face are stark – and finances can feel daunting and complicated. Life Happens, a nonprofit that advocates for the importance of life insurance, recently conducted a survey that shows seven in 10 single parents said becoming a parent is a financial burden. And on average, single parents think about their child’s financial future five times a day.
“They’re trying to do the work of two people as one,” Barbara Pietrangelo, chair at Life Happens, said. “Not always, but often times, single parents might have a lesser income because not only are they trying to work but trying to juggle all their child responsibilities. They’ve got a lot on their plate.”
Money Tips for Single Parents: Helpful Information
But it’s not all doom and gloom. There are many tactics single parents can take to mitigate the financial challenges they might face. Pietrangelo, who’s also a financial advisor, shared tips that single parents can use to lessen their financial burden. And the best part is, these are tips anyone can follow, whether they’re part of a single-parent household or not.
Look into community resources. Many communities have resources that support families in need—including single-parent households. For example, local YMCAs sometimes offer scholarships for summer camp, or reduced tuition based on income. During fall, some organizations hold backpack and school-supply drives for kids.
“There are a lot of opportunities out there for parents,” she said. “Single parents might not want to ask for help, but there’s no embarrassment to do so. There’s a lot of resources where service clubs and other places are willing to help if someone just asks.”
Take a look at your budget. Money tips for single parents include taking a look at your spending. Look at 3 to 6 months of credit and debit card statements to see where your money is really going. For many people, they have expenses in there that they don’t realize.
“It’s not to say don’t ever treat yourself,” Pietrangelo said. “If you’re getting a special cup off coffee once a week because it’s Friday, that may be great. But if you’re getting a $6-10 coffee every day, and you don’t have money, that can be an issue.”
Dining deals. Sure, it’s fun to eat out and certainly easier than cooking, but it might be worth it to reconsider how often you enjoy meals outside the house. Unless—you can score a good deal.
Pietrangelo recommends meal prepping and eating home more often. But when you do decide to go out to dinner, consider looking for deals or other budget-friendly options at local restaurants.
“If you’re going to eat out, see if there are deals or specials such as a free night for kids,” she said.
PRO TIP: Check out these Staten Island restaurants where kids can eat free on select nights.
Reconsider how many streaming services you need. Everyone loves a good movie, and when you have kids, movie nights at home are especially important. But if you have a high internet or cable bill, it might be a good idea to reevaluate if you need as many channels as you have.
Have money for emergencies. It’s not something we want to think about, but it’s important to have money for emergencies or other major life events.
“Have some emergency money,” Pietrangelo said. “I was a single mom back in the day, I always liked to keep even just a couple hundred dollars cash on hand. So try to have some money in savings for emergencies. That could be cash value life insurance, not having credit card debt and having room on your credit card, or having extra savings in the bank.”
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