As a single mum, you’ll know that managing your finances can be tricky. A two parent household either has two lots of income coming in, or a full time wage and someone to look after the children- which is always going to make things easier logistically. But that’s not to say it can’t be done; as single mums we are superheroes, and manage to balance our lives and finances in ways that others can struggle to understand. Thankfully it’s simple to implement if you consider these things.
Set a budget
First things first, set a budget. This is something that every household should do, but if you’re on a tighter income then it’s essential to make sure that every penny is being spent wisely. Spend time reducing your bills by running quotes through price comparison sites and switching companies to utilise new customer deals. See exactly what you have coming in and what’s going out so you can prioritise and know what you have to spend in each area. Work on getting things like phone and internet bills down, shop around for insurance and see if you can get your grocery bill down so that you’re making the best use of your cash. Groceries are something that most of us tend to overspend on, so this is definitely an area to cut back on. Planning your meals, cooking more from home and not being loyal to big brands are all ways you can save money on food.
Claim any extra help you’re entitled to
As a single parent, there are a number of benefits that you may be entitled to depending on your other circumstances, don’t hold off on checking to see. Some people can feel ‘too proud’ to take help from the government but it shouldn’t be this way, this is money that you’re entitled to to make life better for your child. Being in receipt of these benefits can also give you additional extras such as free prescriptions, cut price leisure memberships, free school dinners and other things that can make things much more manageable financially on one income. This article ‘Some Ideas That Could Transform Your Financial Situation’ can give you further ideas. There are usually forms you can fill in online to see what you’re entitled to, or helplines that will guide you where to look based on your situation.
Find flexible ways to work
Working around having children when you’re a single parent isn’t the easiest, but if you can take advantage of flexible working hours, then it’s a way to bring in some more money. For example, maybe you could get a part time job working while your children are at school. If they’re a little older and don’t need watching 24/7 then you could consider doing some work from home- blogging, freelancing, running a home business or remote working for a company could all be options. If you’re able to do this around looking after your kids such as in the evenings when they’re relaxing after school then that’s ideal. It helps you to build your skills and could lead to other opportunities later down the line when you have more time to work. Having big gaps in your employment history is something many parents struggle with after years of raising a family, so this helps you to avoid that too.
Take advantage of free childcare or help
In many places in the world, the government offers a number of hours of free childcare a week which allow you time to work, this can also make things easier especially when it’s only you earning in the household. If you’re lucky enough to have friends and family that offer to look after your children for you overnight or for a few hours, even once a week or month then take advantage of this. It’s good for your children to spend time with their loved ones and be away from you now and again, and it’s good for you as it allows you to work, get organised or just relax. As single parents we lead such busy lifestyles, relaxation is often at the bottom of the list, so if you get the opportunity to kick back every now and again then it’s important to do so. Making the most of your time is crucial, and that might involve prioritising ‘you’ time every now and again. After all, you can’t pour from an empty cup. You can’t expect to spend every minute of every day either working or looking after children, you’ll quickly burn out and just won’t be able to be the best parent you can be.
Be fun and frugal
Being frugal doesn’t have to mean missing out, it can be a fun way to live. Once you get into the habit of bargain hunting and saving money it can be really satisfying and enjoyable. From clipping coupons to batch cooking meals to save money, shopping in charity shops and more, there are so many ways you can stretch your cash. You don’t have to go without anything you want or need, you can just find alternative ways of doing things that don’t involve spending at full price. Take Christmas for example, it’s possible to have an incredible Christmas without spending a fortune. Find bargains online, consider DIYing some gifts and decorations, find games to play and fun things to do on the day that don’t cost a thing. Make the focus about time spent together or helping others rather than on material things, you could take your children with you to volunteer at a local organisation that helps others. Not only does this make you all feel good, but it shows your children just how lucky they are. Being frugal and fun the rest of the year can involve finding cheap and free activities to do- just because you don’t have much money doesn’t mean you need to sit at home. Get your bikes out and go on bike rides or walks in the summer, take a picnic with you. Jump on a coach and go to a new place, these are generally very cheap and allow you to travel without spending a lot. Farms, parks, beaches again are all fun and cheap activities that are rewarding too.
How do you manage living on a single income?