Families with both parents have occasional ups and downs, which is completely normal and expected. But these ups and downs are much more noticeable in single-parent families. This goes especially for the downs.
From sharing custody and taking care of your child to working full-time and managing your finances, you can probably find a number of things that exhaust you and drain your energy.
Nobody said it would be easy, but if you focus on doing the best for your family, you can juggle all of these things with great success. That is why we have compiled a list of nine tips that will help you manage your home budget as a single parent and provide a better future for your family.
Create a budget
Having a budget is essential for all people, single or married. It is practically impossible to manage your finances without creating a budget. When you create a budget, you set a goal.
By creating a budget, you make a financial plan for a certain period of time, which is very helpful when it comes to planning your expenses, savings, expected income, assets, liabilities, and so on. Without a budget, you will either overspend or be too frugal. That is why you need to consider all factors in your budget and decide which purchases you really need to make and which are the result of Western consumerism.
Of course, there will always be some unplanned expenses, but you will be much more successful at covering them if you have been reasonably spending the money you have earned.
Also, it would be wise to involve your children in creating the budget. This way, they will understand why sometimes they can’t have everything they want and be grateful for what they do have.
There are so many great tips on saving money as a single parent, but one of the most important ones is to avoid buying on impulse and without a plan.
Before actually buying something, make sure you shop around and compare the prices online. There are a number of useful websites like PriceGrabber.com where you can quickly find out which retailers have the products you want to buy at the best price.
Another thing you can do is enter the retailer’s name and the phrase ‘coupon code’ along with it into your search engine. Browsing the results for coupon codes can save additional 10-40% on your purchases.
It is pretty amazing how much money you can actually save when you buy things on discounts and in bulk. There are always stores offering products at very affordable prices and you can easily find them by following sales and discounts online.
Finally, another smart thing to do is buy in bulk as this is always a cheaper option.
Set financial goals
Once you have created a budget, you should determine your financial goals. In order to do this, you need to ask yourself some questions like:
- Do I need a higher-paying job?
- Do I need to file for child support?
- Should I move to another home or rental in order to reduce my overall monthly payments?
Creating a budget is one thing, but setting your goals this way is a whole new level. This will show how mature and responsible you actually are. If you are really determined to make all necessary changes to provide for your family’s future, ask yourself these and similar questions and be honest when answering them.
These are major changes and none of them is easy, but this is one of the crucial points on your journey to a better financial future. The key is to be creative, resourceful and decisive, and you will be able to completely change your financial situation in the long run.
Pay your bills on time
If you want to improve your finances, one of the most important things to do is to pay all your bills on time. This way, you will have a much better insight into how much money you actually have and be able to avoid stress, improve your credit score, save money in the long run, as well as create opportunities for better loan opportunities in the future.
Here are some things you can do to prevent late payments:
- Sign up for auto-pay.
Having your bills automatically deducted from your bank account will save you both time and stress associated with not being able to pay your bills. When you register for auto-pay, you will cover the necessary expenses instantly.
- Consolidate your bills.
In case you are struggling to pay separate monthly bills, try consolidating them into a single bigger bill. This will save you time and you will be less likely to miss a due date.
- Organize your bills.
The more bills you have, the harder it is to arrange the payments. You can solve this by highlighting the due date for a bill as soon as you open it. You can also do this in your own way, but make sure to have some kind of visual reminder of the bills that are due.
Pay off your debt
If you owe money, you cannot save it. Even if you manage to save it now, you will have to pay much larger amounts in the future to cover the accumulated fees and penalties.
That is why you need to pay back everything you owe as soon as you can. In case you are unable to pay off the entire balance immediately, get in touch with your bank and credit card company and let them know your situation.
If you approach them honestly and in a friendly way, you may be able to negotiate a special payment plan. After all, they will be happy to help you and give you an attractive offer because their goal is to keep you as their customer.
Save and invest
Whether you have your own stash of money somewhere in your home or in the bank, make sure to always put some money on the side. This will help you cover any unplanned expenses, and you know very well that these occur much more often than we would like.
On the other hand, if you are a daredevil and want to risk, you can try to invest some money. There are a number of investment options like P2P lending, investing in real estate, bonds, and so on. However, be careful not to fall for get-rich-quick schemes. Ask an expert where and how to invest your money and you will see it return in larger amounts.
Improve your credit
When you improve your credit, you reduce the APR on future loans. This means that you will be able to get loans with better terms in the future and save money on your interest rates. Not only can you get more affordable loans but you will also be able to find better credit cards with a lower APR.
Even if you don’t need credit at the moment, improving your credit is a great long-term investment.
Pay in cash
When going to the supermarket, most people pay with their credit or debit cards. However, when we use cards to make payments, the actual amount of money we spend somehow manages to escape our attention.
Although we can see the item price, we feel much more relaxed when paying by card. Also, we are much more likely to spend more than the anticipated amount of money when we don’t pay in cash. Bottom line, if you want to save money on purchases, pay in cash, not by cards.
Eat at home
Eating out at a restaurant is a nice thing to do, but it is also rather expensive. It is acceptable to do this from time to time, but not too often.
To save money, you should eat at home most of the time. When you cook healthy food with your children, not only will you save money but you will also spend time with them and teach them good habits.
Also, we recommend that you keep track of what you eat. Junk food is bad for your family’s health and you should avoid it whenever you can, especially if you have small kids. Home-cooked food is much healthier than fast food, and if you buy the ingredients on a discount, it is also significantly cheaper.
These were the ten most useful tips for managing your budget. You may feel overwhelmed by them at this moment, but if you go through the article a couple more times, you will understand that you can implement all of them if you make some effort.
Managing finances is difficult for most people, let alone single parents. Go step by step, introducing a couple of steps each month. That is the best way to create a sustainable budget and save a lot of money.