Figuring out how to survive financially as a single mom can be strenuous. Read on to find practical tips that will help you have healthy finances and a less stressful life.
Being a single mother comes invariably with struggles, and financial hardships might be one of the main sources of worry and one you want to avoid at all costs.
In this post, you’ll find the best tips and advice on how to survive financially as a single mom.
First, Make a Budget
The first step to gaining control over your finances is to understand their exact and current state.
To do that, you’ll have to look at your bank statements, credit card bills, PayPal or Apple Pay transaction history, and anything else that will reveal where you are spending money and how much is coming in.
Since we spend our money in dribs and drabs and all on separate occasions, it’s hard for us to grasp just how much we are spending.
We assume that our essential expenses like rent and bills drain us of all our money, but a proper budget for single moms based on our financial reality will show us the truth – this is why you need a budget. We may find some surprises as we scrutinize our finances and build a workable budget for each money.
Next, Cut Expenses
Your budget might look short on wiggle room at first, but now that you know how much you’re earning and spending each month, you can see more clearly where you can make cuts and bring your expenditure to within your means.
You may realize that your streaming services are costing you $80 or more dollars a month and you don’t even watch some of them anymore, so canceling them will free up some monthly extra money.
Look at areas where you can make cuts, but don’t cut anything from the “must pay” column like bills, rent or kid’s medical insurance.
Look cut unnecessary expenses that may seem small, like getting treats every other day, or taking a cab instead of walking the 5 blocks, and try to minimize their impact on your budget. Here you can find a big list of fun things to do with no money!
Set Aside an Emergency Fund
If you aren’t saving money for emergencies when you’re struggling financially, then you won’t do it in the future when you’re more financially stable, either. If you spend too much when you have less money, reality suggests that you’ll do the same when you’re rich.
Even if you’re only setting aside $5-20 here and there when you can, it’s still something and it contributes to easing your stress if and when emergency situations arise: car repairs, medical expenses, extracurricular activities, and so on.
It’s a vital practice for single moms to survive financially and be prepared for any contingency.
Get a Side Hustle
In the information age and the thriving gig economy, there are many things you can do to supplement your income and figure out how to make extra money as a single mom.
Even if you only have a few spare hours a week, you could get on a platform like Fiverr to offer freelance services in your areas of expertise.
Some of the best jobs for single moms include copywriting, proofreading, voiceover work, video editing, and graphic design. The best thing is that you don’t have to waste time traveling to these jobs, you can do most of them from home.
You could also sell your creativity online by creating your own e-commerce business, or perhaps you could start a blog and make money via affiliate marketing.
There are many possibilities, and if you’re a single mom on a low income, you’ll benefit greatly from a side hustle.
Set Financial Goals
If you’re a single mom struggling financially or are wondering how to survive financially after a divorce, you have to take active steps toward real financial goals that will improve your position, make you more comfortable and allow you to thrive as well as just survive.
Your goals need to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely, or “SMART financial goals” as the popular acronym puts it.
Start small with short-term goals that you can achieve in less than a year. This could be to cut down or even eliminate your credit card debt, or to finish paying off your car, or catch up on bills. Take a portion of your monthly budget to put toward these goals, such as the proceeds from your side hustle.
A snowball effect will begin when you start with small goals. The money you save in a small way can be put toward larger and more long-term financial goals.
Remember that these goals need specific dollar amounts, appropriate timeframes, and above all, they need to be both realistic (for example not counting on winning the lottery) and attainable in that you can create a concrete plan to make it happen.
Track Your Spending
As we mentioned earlier, a lot of people in the world have absolutely no idea of what they spend on certain things. They buy a coffee every day at Starbucks for $3-4, thinking it’s just that, $3 or so; they buy a pack of cigarettes for $8 once a day and wonder why they have nothing left at the end of the month.
Keeping detailed track of your spending is the only way that you can find ways to control it. Sometimes just the stark realization of how much you spend on a particular thing is enough to make you rethink it.
Take the cigarettes as an example, $8 adds up to $240 or so a month, which adds up over a year to $2,880. Imagine what you could do with $2,880 extra in your bank every year!
You could put that toward a downpayment on a house, or invest it in a savings scheme. The possibilities are there, you just have to include this habit, one of the best ones for helping single moms financially, into your life.
Grocery Shop on a Budget
One of the most important financial tips for single moms is to take some time to carefully reflect on their grocery needs and create a budget for shopping each week.
You can start with things that you will definitely need: staples like bread, rice, potatoes; fresh fruit and produce for nutrition; meat, fish, and dairy. You need these to create a balanced and nutritious diet for you and your family.
You can also, if it works out, add a little extra budget for treats, but the important thing is to always stick to the budget. So if the treat is ice cream this week, we don’t get candy bars and vice versa.
It doesn’t matter what you buy, as long as it’s within that budget and it’s fulfilling your needs first.
Prioritize Getting Rid of Credit Card Debt
If there’s one thing that keeps people poor, it’s debt traps. Credit cards are among the easiest ways that people fall into these traps, finding themselves stuck in a cycle of interest and minimum payments that just won’t make the debt go away.
In fact, it just seems to get bigger and bigger, and it’s one of the main drawbacks for single mothers to survive financially.
Ridding yourself of this debt burden should be among your top priorities. Cutting expenses should free up money that you can use to pay off that credit card debt. Ensure that you stick to plans, and sacrifice little luxuries and other unnecessary expenses until you are debt-free.
Not wasting money on banks’ interest means that you will actually have more disposable income to spend on luxuries later.
Once you get out of debt, don’t cancel or cut up your credit cards, because the credit score boosts you get from them are useful for other things in your financial life.
Either use them when you know you have the money to pay them off, or just keep them for absolute emergencies (although in that case, you should first use that emergency fund we talked about earlier!).
Set Up a Direct Deposit to a Savings Account
If you don’t have a savings account with a regular amount of money flowing into it every month, then you need one. It doesn’t have to be megabucks either, with some banks charging no fees and allowing small deposits of just tens of dollars a month.
The more you can channel into a savings account, the better your long-term financial prospects are, and it’s a great way for a single mom to make money over time.
Money you put into savings can sit there gathering interest, essentially working for you by doing absolutely nothing except being in that account. Setting up such an account is easy at the bank, and you can set up an online direct deposit from another account like your checking account.
According to Best Rates, the top savings accounts pay between 0.4 and 0.5 percent in annual interest. That’s a lot more than in a regular account, and once again you get it for doing nothing other than making those deposits. All of that will add up over the years!
Protect Your Family with Insurance
Just as you might set up an emergency fund for those times when you might lose your job or have unforeseen expenses coming in, insurance can be a lifeline that you’ll never regret purchasing.
Some people balk at the idea of buying insurance because they just see it as a needless expense for no financial return. What if you spend hundreds of dollars a year on premiums but never need the payout? Where’s the return?
In that sense, it’s something of a speculation, but you’re spending smaller amounts of money on an insurance that, if needed someday, might relieve you of a bill of thousands of dollars or even bankruptcy.
It’s one of those things you hope you’ll never need, but if you ever do you’ll be (so) glad to have paid for it. If you can afford it, it should be added to your single mom budget.
Look for Help with Daycare
If your job doesn’t allow you to work from home or operate on flexible hours, then you can look into possible government programs to get some help with daycare. There are a number of programs, including (but not limited to):
- Child care subsidies
- Head Start / Early Head Start
- State-funded Pre-K
- Military fee assistance programs
- …and more
Look online for resources, especially those at Childcare, to learn about the many ways in which the government might help ease the burden a little when you’re a single parent struggling financially. Getting daycare sorted so you can work more and earn more is a great start to that.
In conclusion, while being a single parent is no easy task, with the right approach you can make the journey steadily easier by taking active small steps to improve your financial situation and take control of your life.