Single Parenting and Finance

(This article is part of a weekly guest column by Claire Moylan*)

When you are a single parent, it becomes even more important to have a good handle on your finances. You may have one or many children that are relying on your ability to generate sufficient income and reduce expenses enough to keep a roof over their heads. While the responsibility of single parenting is enormous, it can become even harder when faced with additional financial burdens. Here are some tips to help you provide for your future and that of your little ones.

Get Help Sooner Than Later – If you are divorcing, make sure that you get enough child support to help you bring up the kids. If you need help and have a low income, you may qualify for some assistance, either through food banks or daycare or financial assistance programs.

Have A Job With Benefits – For a working parent, benefits are essential to providing good healthcare and other additional perks. Some of the benefits that can work well for single parents besides healthcare are flexible spending accounts and company-matched retirement accounts. Using flexible spending accounts a parent can budget daycare and out-of-pocket health care costs in a pre-tax format. Company matching retirement accounts help make the little you do manage to put aside grow a whole lot faster.

Locate Reliable Daycare – Daycare is expensive, but it can cost you your job if it is unreliable. Unlike a dual parent home that has an emergency backup in case your regular daycare is closed, a single parent doesn’t have another adult in the home. You will want to make sure that your daycare is reliable or have some emergency backup daycare providers (family, neighbors, friends) so that you can continue to work.

Take Advantage of Low-Income or Parent Programs – There are low-income programs for school lunches. Some day care provides a discount on multiple children. After school programs sometimes offer single parents a discount too. If you’re not sure, ask. It may surprise you to learn that there are discount programs out there targeted specifically towards helping single parents survive.

Understand Your Tax Situation – If you are single head of household, you will be in a different tax bracket than a married householder. This can also lower your withholdings and make you eligible for a child tax credit at the end of the year. Be sure to check out your tax obligations early so that you have the money in your pocket during the year when you need it.

Be Creative With Your Situation – Maybe you can trade instead of pay for some of your services. Is there another single parent around who can do daycare in exchange for a room in your house? Why not pool your resources? Do you have a hobby you can turn into a side business after hours?

Reduce Your Expenses – Most single parents know all about consignment shops, discount grocery stores, and how to make do with very little. The three main expenses of food, clothing, and shelter all need to be budgeted to make sure that you always have what you need to make do.

Locate Sources of Credit – You will have debt as a single parent. The point is to not get in over your head. You do need to locate sources of credit for those emergency situations. If family can’t help, then using a credit card can be one way to extend your ability to pay. Just keep a tight reign on this as it can easily balloon out of control.

Get Free Emotional and Physical Support – If there is no single parents group in your area, think about starting a network or hopping online. You will need to access to resources and programs out there that can help you overcome some of the financial hurdles that single parents face. It’s also important to have someone to share your troubles with so that you don’t feel alone. This can help you to keep a positive attitude.

Being a single parent is tough and there are multiple ways to cope financially. However, all children grow up and these financial hurdles will eventually pass as they fly the nest to make their own way in life.

About the author: Claire Moylan is a freelance writer specializing in ebooks and custom-tailored articles for niche websites. You can view her portfolio online or check out her constant content page for more information about her writing assignments.

*Image Credit: Photograph by WhatDaveSees [via Flickr]

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max said...

Day care helps parents in preparing the youngsters, boys and girls alike, for school, life, exposing them to nurturing environment.

ssdsp said...

Hi claire, it true parenting is the toughest job in the world rather its is the most important work we do in our entire life. And for doing so we have to be very careful with our earnings. Here you have a very nice post on that. Great one, keep it up.


Experts on Credit said...

For so many reasons, it must be really tough to be a single parent. I have so much respect for those of you who are.