Being a single parent comes with its challenges, many of which are related to finances. Even when you have another parent contributing financially, you still have to manage your money on your own. Looking after your finances is not only difficult but also time-consuming, and a lot of other things can feel more important.
However, managing your money is a must if you want to create a good life for your children. It will help you to make things better in the present, as well as plan for the future. Once you start organizing your finances, it will be easier to keep going and stay as organized as possible.
Every single parent has to have a solid budget. Whether you have to pinch every penny or you’re financially comfortable, it makes sense to know where your money is going. A budget helps you to take a look at what you’re spending and find ways to save if you need to.
If you start by looking at all of your spendings, you can identify your defined expenses and those that vary. While looking at your expenses in one month is helpful, it’s also a good idea to think about what you spend across a whole year. It will give you a better picture of the less regular expenses, such as clothes or medical costs.
Claim Money You’re Entitled To
The one thing you don’t want to do as a single parent is missing out on the money that you should be getting. This could include child support, survivor benefit or life insurance, or some types of benefits or welfare.
If you’re a widow or widower, a wrongful death attorney might be able to help you claim the money that you’re owed.
For divorced or separated parents, you might work out something informal with your ex-spouse, but many people prefer to have something legally binding. It helps to hold everyone accountable and ensure that child support is paid.
Deal with Debt (Especially Joint Debt)
Some debt can be healthy, but there are some types of debt that you don’t want hanging over you. One issue for single parents is that they may have joint debt with their ex-spouse.
When you have a joint debt, you’re both responsible for it, which can make things complicated. There are different ways of dealing with it that can simplify things.
If you share a credit card, for example, one of you could transfer their portion of the debt to their own credit card, so you’re each paying a fair amount of what you owe. Keeping both names on a credit account could hurt you if your ex misses a payment.
Set Goals for the Future
Having financial goals for the future is good for you and your family. It gives you some direction and helps you to decide how to manage your money. There are various goals that you might have both for yourself and your children. From increasing your general savings to saving college funds for your children, owning a home, or raising your income, you should think about what goals you want to set. Once you have set some goals, you can think about the steps that you need to take to reach them.
Boost Your Savings
Everyone should have some savings. When you have money saved, you can use your savings for a variety of purposes. You might have an emergency fund, which you use to cover any unexpected expenses.
You might save some short-term savings that you use for vacations or for essentials such as clothing. Long-term savings are useful too, whether you start a college fund for your child or you’re thinking about what your retirement will look like.
Start with an emergency fund, which will give you protection when you have emergencies or unexpected expenses to take care of.
Stay on Top of Your Finances
Once you’ve started to get your finances organized, you can keep taking steps to ensure you stay on top of everything. Regularly reviewing your finances will help you to stick to a budget, find new ways to save, and make sure you’re meeting all of your responsibilities.
Spend a little bit of time each week to check up on your finances, make sure you’ve paid your bills, check the balances of your different accounts, and take a look at how you’re progressing with paying off your debts.
As a single parent, your finances are your responsibility alone. Start managing them smartly, and you can improve your family’s quality of life.