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Unbiased Financial Information Provided by Financial Finesse

Single parenting is tough. It's hard to make ends meet when you're trying to provide for two or more on just one income. You make sure everyone is on time for soccer games and music lessons. And, you have to keep up with the weekly household chores. "Money Management?" you might say. "I barely have time to breathe!"

Basic money management techniques are a necessity for a single parent. The more you commit to it, the more you are going to make life a little more manageable. You might even find yourself with a little extra income that can help you enjoy life as a single parent. And you might even find time to breathe.

A Little Budgeting Goes a Long Way

There's no question about it: Good budgeting saves money. Here are some great tips on reducing expenses:

Tips for Easy Savings

 

  • Groceries: Make a list and stick to it! Your local grocery store probably sends out a circular highlighting the week's special offers. Use that information to save money! Many supermarkets print your "bonus buy" savings at the bottom of your receipt; that is the dollar amount you saved by buying items on sale. Attach the receipt to your bulletin board or refrigerator and keep trying to top last week's score.
  • Meals: Many single, working parents spend a lot of money eating takeout. Why not invest in a slow cooker or crock pot? Easy meals can be prepared in the morning, cook all day, and be ready when you walk in the door. Also, on the weekends, cook more than you need for one meal. The leftovers can be frozen for use later in the week.
  • Haircuts: Barbers and hairstylists are expensive! Cut your child's hair yourself or see if you have a friend or relative who can do it for you.

 

When you Really Need to Find More Savings

For some single parents, more significant cost-cutting might be in order. It hurts a little at first, but by eliminating unnecessary spending you can put yourself in better financial shape. And you will be rewarded in the future. After a year or two of frugal living you might be able to splurge on a long summer vacation or move into a nicer home!

 

  • Housing Costs: Are you paying too much in rent, mortgage or household maintenance? Many single parents actually rent extra rooms in the house to their friends and family, who in turn can help with babysitting, paying rent or helping out with the mortgage and other household expenses. If you have an adult child living with you, consider charging at least a small amount for rent and household expenses. It is good for children over 18 to begin taking some responsibility for expenses so they learn how to manage money once they move out.
  • Debt Payments: If you have a lot of debt, you are probably making high interest payments each month. Consider consolidating your credit card debt to your lowest interest rate card to save on interest charges. If you have student loan debt, you may be able to defer payments to a later date. For help with disputes involving your direct student loans, visit the Federal Student Aid Ombudsman web site or call 1-877-557-2575.
  • Technology Costs: Cell phone, internet and cable television charges can really add up. Make sure you aren't spending too much in these areas. Think about how often you use these services. You may be able to cancel services you don't use or reduce your costs by switching to more basic plans.

 

Saving on Day Care

Nobody should have to trade quality for cost when it comes to day care for their children. Yet day care is probably one of the biggest financial worries that a single parent deals with. Ask at your church/place of worship, YMCA, or Boys and Girls Clubs about cost-effective and trustworthy childcare.

If your employer offers a "dependent care account", use it. It allows you to use pre-tax dollars to pay for your day care expenses (up to a family maximum of $5,000 per year). Instead of using after-tax dollars to pay for day care (where $1 buys $1 worth of day care) you use pre-tax dollars (where $0.70 buys $1 worth of day care, assuming a 30% tax bracket). Therefore, the same day care costs less.

Manage the Stress

Remember, children are sometimes more in tune with your emotions and feelings than you think. If you constantly worry about money, they will feel that and they'll worry, too. So do what you can to keep things "light."

Tough times don't last forever. Better days are ahead. Keep this in mind when money gets tight and you'll find that you are able to make better financial decisions with a clearer perspective.


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