Statistics show that as at 2011, there were approximately 13.7 million Single parents in The United States and this is reflected in many other nations and recently in increasing rapidly in Africa as well. This reality has swung the pendulum of discourse rather forcefully from, maintaining marriages and reducing child bearing out of wedlock to handling single parenthood.
Being a single parent doesn’t spare you any expense at all. And even if you are unemployed and dependent on government grants, you still have to settle the necessary bills; rent, water, mortgage, tuition etc, and it isn’t cheap.
With all of these expenses battling for a spot on your budget, knowing how and where to place your priorities could be a problem. And even if you do, there are hardly enough resources to go round.
Bearing this in mind, frugality becomes a necessary tool. Does that imply a no-spending sentence? No, not at all. So how then should you handle your finances as a single parent?
1. Re-evaluate Your Attitude, Decide To Make Lemonade
This may not immediately sound like a financial tip, but attitude is the basis for almost every good plan, strategy or decision. “He shouldn’t have walked out on me, Life isn’t fair, this money just won’t do”
When life throws lemons at you, make some lemonade. If you spend more time talking about your problems you can never rise above them, but if you spend time talking about solutions, you will see clearly. You will make horrendous and largely emotional decisions if you do not fix the attitude problem, be optimistic!
First things first then, get your head screwed on tight and the next few tips will help you plan well
2. Learn To Set Definite Goals
Whether you have one income, multiple income streams or you are dependent on government grants; you need to make plans properly. Goals give clarity and help us make the most of what we have.
Sir Francis Bacon once said; “…writing makes for an exact man”. What do you and your family want? Write that down, and then you narrow it down a bit more to what you need.
Needs are important and can be urgent at times, but mere wants can be forfeited. Make expenditure goals in line with this list and stick to it. Your goals should be broken down into time; goals for the month or the year. Goals form a vision that you want to actualize within a period of time. This is the picture of your family you want to have at the end of that period as much as money can get you.
3. Have a budget.
It is not possible to handle your finances effectively without a feasible budget. Budgets are not the same as goals. Goals are the building blocks for budgets, proper planning aids proper budgeting.
A budget being a quantitative expression of a financial plan for a defined period of time, helps you plan the volume of expenses, savings as well as expected income, assets and liabilities for the period. Frivolous spending is often the result of not having one. Develop a budgeting strategy that is best suiting for your home.
You are running a family and not a military camp, so chances are that there will be some interference on your budget, but your goal should be to reduce interferences to the barest. Limit your spending options to only what is necessary. All avoidable costs should be avoided, and if possible ditch the credit card or minimize it too.
Try to involve your kids in your budgeting. Let them join in on the planning. It helps them understand why they cannot have more chicken for thanksgiving or visit Walt Disney World for New Year.
4. Invest more.
Resist the temptation to simply save. You need more money to cater for financial needs, and savings doesn’t add a dime to that course. Savings only maintains your money and in some cases subtly degenerates it. As a single parent, you need extra bucks, and these come through wise investments.
Know and discover ways you can turn your money into a working asset. Any mechanism used for the purpose of generating future income is an investment. I am not saying to throw your money into all sorts of schemes. You have a family, so you cannot take too many chances, you cannot keep trying your luck as you would if you were single or without a child.
Look out for viable investment opportunities. You can engage an expert or simply ask questions, but make sure you double check. Avoid get rich quick schemes as much as possible. Invest in more progressive and long term ventures. Handling your finances effectively requires that you know how to invest so when you plan your budget, ensure there is room for investments.
5. Maximize Auctions And Giveaways.
There are lots of people offering the same value you need for lesser prices. New companies usually engage in lots of giveaways as a tool for attracting customers. Maximize it to cash in on cheaper purchases. There is no pride in overlooking such opportunities. Whatever helps you save money should be optimized. Remember, you are no longer living just for you.
For instance, mobility is not a luxury these days especially when you have kids. Rather than saving for a new car or another car to replace the broken one, you can maximize auctions and giveaways in this regards as well. Sites like Auction Export, Auto Auction Mall or Copart feature hundreds of thousands of live vehicle auctions at any time, so you can always make a good bargain.
Making lemonade is all about recognizing the best alternatives; You are going to be just fine if you can do this one thing all the time.