Living life as a single parent is full of us all being tarred with the same brush and misconceptions. In one of my past lives, I use to wear a suit daily to work. I didn’t fit the single mum shell suit image. I’m not work shy either, midnight oil anyone? And I do have an ample dose of common sense and motivation. Again I don’t fit the lazy, sat on arse all day in a shell suit, media image of single mums.
The other myth I completely dispel is the money one. It’s a common misbelief that single parents get money thrown at them. So not only are we supposedly sitting on arses all day in shell suits but we have huge flat screen TVs and all the gadgets. Again I fit the image as I have the grand sum of 1.27 left in my current accounts. Oh, and though I have a flat screen tv it’s not huge and took ages to save up for from my earnings.
Although I have £1.27 in my bank I’m not worried. If you would be worried, you need to keep better track of your current accounts. Easier said than done but once you get into the practice of checking you account it soon becomes second nature. So why I am not worried and how do I manage on tight purse strings?
I’m not worried because I know when all the bills are due to go out and what payments are coming in and when. So although I have a piddly sum in my bank account I also know there are no bills due till more money goes into my account.
First, make sure you are getting all the allowances you are entitled to. Tax credits and child benefit can be paid weekly if that helps. You just need to call up and request it to be paid weekly.
Write everything down that you have to pay out and have to come in each month. Yes, it’s boring and depressing but you can’t manage on a budget if you don’t know your budget. The idea is that you know when every payment is due to go out and you have enough money in the account.
If you do not have enough money to cover all your outgoings don’t ignore it. Look through your outgoings and see what can be reduced. Few examples; I switched to an electric meter as seeing your money going down was the fastest way for me to stop wasting electricity. I stopped using a tumble dryer, yes it’s a pain hanging the washing on a dryer but it drastically reduced my usage. The other thing I saved money on is the food shop. I also work out how much the shopping will cost and take just that amount of money with me. Can’t spend what I haven’t got and I don’t go over my food budget. Plus there is something about dealing in cash that reminds you-you’re on a budget and helps you not spend so much.
Have a bank account that handles all your direct debits and bills etc. Try and have a separate account that you put money in each week. Doesn’t matter if it’s just a pound, it’s better than nothing and can mount up for a rainy day. There are more tips in my post How To Manage Your Money.
Lastly, remember happy well-adjusted children are brought up on love, not expensive gadgets and latest must haves.