7 Smart Financial Moves You Can Make as a Single Parent

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7 Smart Financial Moves You Can Make as a Single Parent

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7 Smart Financial Moves You Can Make as a Single ParentWhen you are going it alone the responsibility of working, keeping house, raising your children and handling your finances falls solely on you.  Life as a single parent can seem tremendously overwhelming...

I have been a single mom for the majority of my son's life and some days go by in a blur of work, food prep, homework, laundry and after school activities. I barely have time to eat let alone worry about paying bills, saving for college, or insurance options.

By day I am a certified credit counselor helping others manage their debt and create sound financial futures; the other "24/7" title I hold is "mom". I know first hand taking the time to devise a financial plan is the best way to stay on top of your finances and build a sound financial future for yourself and your children.

Here are seven things you need to make time for:

1. Monitor your current budget. Most likely the majority of your income whether it's your paycheck, child support or both, is going toward housing expenses, child care, food and gas; but what about the "other" categories; insurance, clothing, and entertainment for example? To find out where your money goes, track every expense for at least two-three months. Determine financial pitfalls like an excessive cell phone bill, unnecessary cable channels, or too many dinners out. Make cuts where you can and remember to create a line item for savings. To help you get started enter your expenses in this budget worksheet.

2. Be truthful with your kids...yes, they can handle it.  One of the biggest mistakes I make as a single parent is overcompensating for the loss of my son's father in his day to day life. Yes, he sees his dad occasionally, but I know he misses the daily interaction with him.  I struggle with guilt and sometimes blame myself for him not having his dad around everyday.  To compensate I tend to "spoil"; mostly with extra love and my time, but sometimes with the latest video game or a new toy. It's important to be honest with your kids and let them know if there comes a time you need to scale back. Life happens and sometimes the budget doesn't stretch as far as you need and the "extras" have to go. Help them understand that as part of the family it's their job to help you and that may mean fewer trips to the movies, toy store, or treats at the grocery store.

3. Child care, the expensive necessary evil.  It's no surprise that child care is a necessary expense for most working, single parents and it's expensive! Consider your options carefully when it comes to childcare.

  • Seek the help of family members.
  • Swap childcare with a trusted friend or neighbor.
  • Shop around. Consult Child Care Aware  for a listing of facilities in your area.

4. Take advantage of those tax breaks. If you are a working parent, you most likely qualify for the child-care tax credit.  This credit allows you to deduct a percentage of up to $3,000 in day-care expenses for one child or $6,000 for two or more children. You can visit the IRS website, to find out more about the child-care tax credit and to see if you qualify. 

5. Save, yes you can do this.  I know money is tight, but if you budget even a small amount each month for savings goals such as, college and take advantage of your employer's retirement plan with pre-tax dollars, it will add up. Have the money deposited directly from your paycheck, after awhile you won't even miss it.  

6. Be insured. No one likes to think about the "what if" but, that's exactly what insurance is for.  Remember it's just you; if you become sick, get in an accident or become disabled who will support your children? Talk with an insurance agent to discuss the right coverage for your family when it comes to life and disability insurance.

7. Don't forget a will.  Give yourself the peace of mind knowing your children will be cared for the way you want in the event something happens to you. A will helps to ensure there is a guardian for your children. A will also ensures that any insurance money, assets, or inheritance you may have left is distributed the way you choose.  

Life as a single parent will never be easy, but you can lessen the burden by taking the time to devise a financial plan that works for you and your children. Just remember, awareness and action are key in staying on top of your finances after a plan is in place.

The best thing you can do for yourself and your children is take the time to make your finances a priority and be prepared for tomorrow.

Remember, life is unpredictable, you are a single parent.

Suzanne Cramer

Suzanne is a certified credit counselor working in our Ask the Expert forums as a coach and a Social Media Specialist for CareOne. Suzanne writes for our Divorce, Debt and Finances and A Straight Talk on Debt blogs. Follow Suzanne on Twitter where she shares the latest debt industry news and tips to keep your finances in check with her ADivorcedMom and AskCareOne accounts.


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  • very good advice and the best part its free ,i am glad i'm apart of this family now .

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