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Single mothers are an unmovable force—they are our caretakers, our doctors, our servers, our sisters and our daughters. They take care of us when we’re sick, and they pamper us when we’re down. They are the white-collar workers, the part-time workers, and the stay-at-home supermoms. More than 80 percent of all single parents are female, and of that number nearly a quarter are living in poverty.
When most people think of single parents, they tend to think of stay-at-home moms who are living off welfare or with their families. However, research shows this is not only an outdated way of thought, but also simply not true. Not only are over 70 percent of single mothers employed, but almost half are also working multiple jobs.
We asked single mothers and various financial experts what their one biggest piece of budgeting advice for single parents would be. Read their answers below:
Evie at Mom Solo says: “I try not to put too much emotional energy into feeling guilty about the fact that I can’t give my son everything. I focus on our beautiful family and how lucky we are to have each other. I try to remind myself that he doesn’t understand my finances, nor should he need to know. I act as though we were rich in all ways. Being on a budget doesn’t make me a bad mom, nor do I have less of a great life than a more affluent mom.”
Jennifer, Chief Executive Officer of The Life of a Single Mom, says single moms need to be aware of what’s coming in and going out each month. “The biggest mistake we can make with our finances is not knowing where the money went. Write everything down for 90 days — this gives an accurate picture of what you spend on necessities and not so necessary items. You can’t control what you don’t know.”
Gary Foreman of The Dollar Stretcher says: “Have a realistic budget and live by it. A budget full of wishful numbers is worse than useless; it’s dangerous! When your money is tight, you need to know what you’ll spend on rent, groceries, etc. each month (or pay period). And, if you’re having trouble living within it [your budget], you need to know that right away so you can take corrective action quickly before a bigger problem is created.”
Katie, Community Manager at Moms.com stresses the importance of living within your means and sticking to a set budget. “Only buy things that are on sale,” Katie says, “and look into resale shops or thrift stores for items that you don’t need to buy new.”
Lisa at Ixonia Bank says: “Pay off any debt first, and then have a savings account. Also, be careful when borrowing. Do not use loans as credit cards. If you have to use cash to prevent overspending, do it.”
Elena, Chief Editor of Moms.com, says: “Always look into ways that you can make more money from home with flexible hours, instead of just getting another job that will require you to pay more for daycare. Team up with other moms in your community or online. Too many single moms are afraid to ask for help, but now it’s time to get over your fears and start searching.”
If you or someone you know is a single parent, let them know you’re there to offer a helping hand. And let them know that debt help is available.
Looking for more budgeting advice? Check out our two-part series on single mothers and ways to save below: