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How to Budget and Thrive as a Single Parent
Money Management

How to Budget and Thrive as a Single Parent

Being a parent is challenging, but being a single parent is even more difficult. You are expected to meet your work obligations, ensure the kids are fed, warm and healthy while acting as their part-time personal assistant, nurse, chauffeur, playmate, coach, and tutor — to name the least.

In addition, the most demanding part of the whole ‘raising small humans shenanigans’ is still waiting for you - bills. There is rent, school fees, medical bills, toys, food, etc. In most cases, there is no help coming. It is all you. 

It is no wonder that there is this assumption that single parents (especially single mothers) are destined to be lonely, miserable, and in a financial mess. Being a single parent is a stigma. 

But it doesn’t have to be so; you can absolutely prove society wrong. The first step is to convince yourself that your new life will be one that is full, joyous, and financially rich. With proper financial planning, single parents can be not only happy and fulfilling but also economically sustainable. 

But how do you achieve that when the future looks so bleak? This article gives you a guide that will help stabilize your mind and emotions as well as guide you to financial bliss. 

Create a Lifestyle That You Can Afford Now

There are many reasons why people become single parents. It might be due to a divorce or separation, early pregnancy, or even the death of a partner. Whatever the reason is, it is crucial to realize that you are now in this on your own. 

You are now the only person your child/ren can depend on. However, it is okay to realize this is a new life and create a lifestyle you can comfortably afford now—not when you were married, what you think you deserve or where you hope to be in 2 years. Now! 

Also, understand that you are in no competition. Forget about the fancy living arrangements, expensive trips, and classy parties that you were used to when there was another partner in the equation. 

For now, focus on the basics and provide your kids with exactly what you can afford. It might not look like it now, but these little humans also understand a lot of what is going on. So put your mind at ease, fill their tummies and focus on tomorrow. With the right plan, things will surely get better. 

Understand the Numbers and Create a Single-Parent Budget

Even if you have never been in charge of the finances in your life, it is now time to learn. The only way you will make any financial progress while relying on a single income is to quickly figure out where you currently stand and develop a concrete monthly budget. 

Avoid at all costs living in a survival mode. Now that it is up to you to make it work, every shilling that you earn counts. When you have a clear picture of the money coming in and how much you spend each time, you will be able to live more stress-free and even set and achieve your financial goals.

So, sit down and draw a realistic single-parent income. Factor in all the income that you have coming in right now. Same way, factor in all the money that is going out every month. Once you have all this laid down, you may realize that you have a lot more money going out than coming in. For example, you might be spending a lot more on unnecessary goods such as impulse buys at the grocery store checkout, or items that your children want. 

Now find a strategy to cut down on costs. For example, instead of giving the kids everything they want, try explaining to them why you can not afford it at the moment and maybe come up with alternatives. While at it, you can also find five other amazing ways to help you save more on this post.  

Focus On Earning More: Build Various Income Streams

Now that you have the basics figured out, it is time to find a way to bring in more income. You no longer have the luxury of relying on a single income stream.

But remember, this will not happen overnight. It might need a bit of sacrifice and little lifestyle tweaking. For example, if you are already working full time, you might have to sacrifice a few hours of sleep to start a side hustle.   

Thankfully, there are many things you can do to earn an extra income. For starters, try and build a few passive income streams. A passive income stream is an income from sources that require minimal labor to create and maintain. Here are examples of popular passive income sources that you can start on 0 or no costs:

  • YouTube Channel
  • Blogging
  • Create and sell art online
  • Drop shipping, etc.

The idea is to try and increase your income every month gradually. Set clear income goals and find ways to meet them. Be creative about it. Before you know it, a little bit of effort and determination will go a long way. 

Avoid Unnecessary Debt

I know this might be tough, especially if you have just been thrown into the deep end of being a single parent. Falling into instant responsibilities and expenses with little or no income is not easy. 

However, as much as you can, avoid getting into debt. Poorly planned borrowing can cripple and hold you captive. So, instead of racking in debt, try to cut costs and live within your means - live with what you can afford at the moment. For example, instead of getting into mobile loans to buy take-out dinner for the kids, find the nearest open market, and buy groceries to cook dinner. 

Instead of borrowing 30K from a friend to pay for a two-bedroom in Buru Buru, why not find a nice and simple bedsitter and save yourself the headache and heartache of paying a debt or losing a friend. 

Get a loan only if it will help you generate more income and improve your lifestyle. After all, the best way to make money is by leveraging other people’s money.

Create an Emergency Fund

There is no other time that an emergency fund is more important than in a single-income household. Problems and emergencies are a way of life. An emergency fund gives you a safety net for when emergencies arise that throw you into financial distress - things like unanticipated sicknesses, loss of income, etc. 

So, although it might be challenging right now, ensure that you factor in emergency funds into your budget and ensure you stick to it and save every month. Experts often recommend having at least 3-6 months worth of living expenses stashed away in a separate savings account where you won’t be tempted to spend it. That way, you have money to spend when you need it.

Protect Yourself and Your Children: Get Appropriately Insured

Many people know they need insurance - even those in double-income families - but not many prioritise it. However, insurance is crucial to protect you and your loved ones against life’s risks.

For example, life insurance is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make for your child/ren, especially as a single mom. Contrary to popular belief, you are not wishing death upon yourself. Instead, it is a way to cushion your kids financially if a tragedy strikes unexpectedly. 

On the other hand, a medical cover will ensure that your and your kids’ health is protected, and you do not have to worry about medical bills if one of you needs medical attention. You might be thinking that insurance is another big expense on your already tight budget, but it is worth it. 

Also, there are very many insurance options in the market today. All you need is to shop around and find one that fits your needs and your budget. For example, NHIF is an excellent medical cover for those with an extra tight budget.

Wrapping Up

Well, it is all on you now. But you got this! You are strong, and you will be financially independent, fabulous and raise those kids to be happy human beings. 

All you need is to take a breath, understand your finances, make budgets, and work a little harder than you did before. Before you know it, you will be happy, contented, and financially thriving. It is doable! 

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Doris is a finance professional, freelance writer and SEO expert. She has experience helping businesses of all sizes create content that helps improve their site quality and increase their online traffic. She is a personal finance and wealth creation enthusiast and a frequent contributor to Money254. Visit Doris' personal website to learn more about her work.

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