As a single parent, you may find it challenging to meet your budgetary needs. Providing for your children has a host of obligations that includes everything from putting food on the table, clothes on their back and a roof over your child’s head. You also want something leftover for their fun and pleasure.
With the holiday season inching closer and end of year quickly approaching, you may feel the monetary crunch especially hard. Although you won’t be able to boost your income in the short period of time left, there are some budgetary moves you can implement to help fortify your financial future.
Rethink Your Budget
If you’re a parent, you may not want to burden your children with financial discussions. But if your kids are old enough to understand the basics, and you don’t make the talk too heavy, they can prove helpful in keeping a tight budget. Instead of making it all about setting limits, set your budgetary goals on achievements. Talk to your children about the importance of money and saving. Although they would like candy at the check out line or a new toy every time they set foot in a store, they need to help prioritize the family spending. When you’re done paying the bills, if there is money left over, discuss putting it in a special vacation or savings fund and not blowing it on frivolous purchases.
Have a Backup Plan
Raising children as a single parent is a major responsibility. In addition to imparting manners, respect and love, you also must ensure their financial well-being. Although you may be getting monetary assistance through child support, don’t count on this as steady income. In the courts, child support is never considered behind unless over 30 days. Sometimes filing a motion for payment can take even longer to recoup the funds. Have a back up savings plan such as an emergency fund. After you pay for groceries, utilities and other essentials, put the remaining money into a savings account. This money can be used to tide you over in cases of emergency if your partner is late with child support payments. Aim for at least 10 percent of your paycheck.
Enlist the Help of Friends and Family
Placing a portion of your paycheck away in savings will help you stay on target with your financial goals. But it can be difficult for some to achieve. If you’re not able to diligently put aside money, you may want to look into other methods such as downsizing a home to pad your savings account. Other creative methods can include relying on friends and family members for assistance. If you hire a sitter for after school child care, barter with a neighbor over services. If she works evenings and you work days, take turns babysitting. If you pay a sitter $35 to $50 per day, the weekly savings can be placed in your emergency fund. It’s also a win-win for both single parents.
Set Aside Money for “Me” Time
Your primary focus as a single parent is paying bills and meeting your child’s financial needs. But you also want to ensure that you have some time for enjoyment when your partner has the children for the weekend. Set aside a workable amount of money that allows you to remain within your budget, but you also have cash for entertainment. If your friends are going through similar circumstances, look for discounts on movies or coupons for restaurants. When funds are low, invite your best friends over for a potluck dinner where everyone brings a dish to pass.
Understand the Tax Laws
As a family, you probably got used to the fact that you could claim your children as dependents on your tax return. Now that your single parenting with an ex-spouse, the tax laws are different. Because a tax refund can help fund vacations, clothes, food and luxuries such as entertainment and vacations, you want to consult with the experts on how to set up the new claims. The IRS allows only one parent to deduct expenses related to child care. The experts can assist you in finding a fair resolution such as alternating the years a parent claims the children.