Financial strategies for single parents

Financial Education
Dec 18 2014

 

For most single parents, it’s more important than ever to have a spending plan and to make sure you are setting aside money for emergency savings. While most people think of a budget as limiting and painful, it can actually be liberating to learn how to make the most of what you bring in. Here are some tips to get you started.

 

Let the kids help

Depending on the age of your children, you can find ways for them to be a part of the family’s budget plan. It could be something as simple as clipping coupons and helping create the grocery list, to allowing older children to get a part-time job to earn money. It never hurts to give your child structure and responsibility. Giving them chores to do and an allowance for spending money can help you and them.

Get a handle on debt

If you’re having trouble getting your debt in check, consider talking to a debt counselor about a repayment plan with your creditors.

Find good child-care

As a single parent this can prove especially challenging. Many single parents work not one, but two jobs to make ends meet. But there are some alternatives to traditional daycare that can provide a solution.

  • YMCAs: The nation’s largest provider of child care programs is the YMCA. Child care is open to all, with financial aid available. Programs range from infant care to on-site after school care. To find a YMCA near you, visit www.ymca.net. Boys and Girls Clubs also offer inexpensive and free school programs in many communities. Visit www.bgca.org.
  • Child care jobs: A child in the 8-to-12 year old range may be able to volunteer or get a job as a “mother’s helper” for a stay-at-home or work-at-home parent who would be glad for the break. This will ensure they are being cared for after school while learning valuable skills. Children 13 years or older may want to take a local Red Cross babysitting course and get an after-school babysitting job for younger children, or work as a counselor in an after school program or daycare. They’ll earn extra money and get valuable experience.
  • Sick care: Taking days off work to care for a sick child can be expensive for a single parent. It’s important (but not always easy) to line up help for those emergencies. Find out if a sick child daycare program is available in your community. Some hospitals, for example, offer this service and they are often staffed by nurses for added peace of mind. If not, you may want to talk with your local hospital and find out if there are retired nurses in your community who may welcome the chance to take care of your kids and earn some extra income. If the program you need doesn’t exist, see what you can do to help get one started.
  • Get free babysitting: If you never have a moment to yourself, it may be time to trade with other single parents who would like a break as well. Starting a babysitting co-op to exchange babysitting with other single parents can be a sanity saver.

Want more financial tips? You can learn more about this subject and view other financial education resources on our website.

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