For a lot of us, raising kids as a single parent is a financial strain. It always feels as if you don’t have quite enough money, and it’s a juggling act just to get everything covered. Food, clothing and shelter is a necessity, but what about the unexpected? School field trips, music lessons and new tires for the car… the financial burden of raising children can be challenging, but for a single parent with no one to lean on, it’s terrifying at times. Constant frugal living gets tiresome. Follow a few of these simple tips to ease that burden and get some relief:
Share Your Burden
Juggling childcare and your work schedule is one such challenge. Daycare and babysitters are expensive. Older kids are in school, but during evenings, holidays and summer breaks, you might not want them to be at home alone.
Get together with other parents in similar situations. Create a group of parents you trust and set up times to watch each other’s kids when the others are working or have obligations. Sharing the burden will relieve the financial strain of expensive daycare, and you will create friendships and bonds with families you trust. You don’t have to do it alone.
Create a Realistic Budget
The earlier you teach your children about financial responsibility, the better. They may not need to know how much you make or the amount of the mortgage payment, but they should understand the value of working for something.
Is your budget documented? Use this simple budget calculator to create one. It may not list every expense that you incur each month, but it will get you started. Next, compare the transactions in your checking account against your budget. What expenses are not categorized? Do not allow yourself a miscellaneous category: assign everything.
Prepare for the Unexpected
Unexpected expenses are precisely that, unexpected. A financial contingency plan (or cushion) is crucial to financial stability. Aim to have enough cash stashed away to cover six months of expenses. If you incur an expense that is unexpected and you dip into savings, determine what luxury you can forego next month to reimburse yourself. Add a small amount each month to a separate savings account specifically for emergencies. Vehicle repairs, medical bills and even field trips and surprise expenses can fall under this category.
Let Your Money Serve You
Consider every source of income you have when creating your cushion, such as alimony, child support or annuities. If you receive regular structured settlement payments, you can sell your future payments for a lump sum of cash now that you could use to help fund this savings account. Your money (and the peace of mind it provides) may serve you better there, earning interest, than inevitably getting lost in the mix of groceries, gas and spending money every month. Visit the J.G. Wentworth Facebook page for more information about selling your future payments.
You have a large responsibility on your shoulders. You are a role model for your children. Show them not only how to manage money, but how to plan for the unexpected, make the budgetary corrections and move on.