Strapped for Cash as a Single Parent-Tales from the Darkside

Major Life Challenges Blog Series

We are taking a closer look at some of the big issues we all can face in our lifetime. Each topic will be featured as a blog series.

Strapped for Cash as a Single Parent-Tales from the Darkside

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Strapped for Cash as a Single Parent-Tales from the DarksideMany of us struggle financially as we navigate single parenthood. We often here tales of single moms and their financial struggles, but very little is told about single dads and the sacrifices they make as single parents.  

I asked three single dads to share their stories, outlook, and advice as they navigate single parenthood through the eyes of a single dad.

Daniel's story 

How does one survive the financial stress of going from a two-income family to a single-income household? Daniel Ruyter of Memoirs of a Single Dad went through this very experience during his divorce in 2006 when he and his ex split, incomes and all.  

The two tactics that served him well were: 

1. Formulate (and stick to) a budget.  "A budget is an absolute necessity, especially after a divorce. Your relative income and expenses change after your divorce, especially when you consider you're now 100% responsible for all of the household expenses. It's important to work up a budget and stick to it." 

2. Avoid revolving credit.  "Avoid using revolving credit (credit cards) where possible, especially if your budget is tight from month to month. Using credit cards or other revolving credit sources that allow you to carry a balance only increases your cost of living through interest charges."

Daniel Ruyter is a single dad and runs the single parenting site,  Memoirs of a Single Dad focuses on everything from the perspective of the single dad - from dating, parenting, co-parenting & divorce to photography, life, love all with a sprinkle of technology.  Being a fellow single parent, Daniel knows a bit about the challenges presented both during and after a divorce or breakup.

Jack's Story

Jack Adams of Divorced not Broken says, "I remember when I was first divorced. I went form living in my beautiful 3 bedroom, 2 bath house with a big backyard, to living in a one room apartment that didn't allow cooking in the room. It was a real shock." 

  • Foreclosure and tarnished credit.  Jack's ex-wife got the house, but decided not to make any mortgage payments and his name was still on the loan. She finally gave it back to him after letting it fall into foreclosure. Needless to say, his credit rating took a hit that it didn't recover from for almost ten years.
  • Lifestyle choices to budget expenses.  "I begged, borrowed and sold almost everything I had at the time. I took in two room mates, got a second job and eliminated a social life of any kind. No cable, no internet, no cell phone, not a single luxury. After about a year of scraping by like this, I finally started to see my bank account going into the black." 
  • Re-establishing credit.  He got a high interest credit card (the only one he could get at the time) and charged small amounts with it, then paid the balance each month. He leased a car with a low monthly payment and made sure that his mortgage and monthly utilities were paid on time every month. Little by little his credit score began to improve, but the big black marks would take years to recover from. He could do nothing but wait...
  • Light at the end of the tunnel.  Jack got lucky and sold the house at the peak of the market back in 2006 and immediately put a chunk of the proceeds into a 529 college fund for his son. They moved to a city with a lower cost of living and his bank account balance has grown steadily ever since. For Jack, patience has paid off. His son's college tuition is under control, his credit score is 800, and he has a new home in a city that he can afford. It's taken years, but he is finally over the hump. 

Jack Adams is a single father of one. A blogger focused on providing insights into growing stronger as a person, parent and potential partner. An avid golfer, cyclist, runner, competitor, chef, gardener and all around great guy. Professionally, he leads a department of I.T. professionals in developing ERP/MRP/CSM platforms for manufacturing/distribution environments. Personally, he prefers to be outside enjoying the Pacific Northwest and all it has to offer.

Jason's Story 

Jason grew up the oldest of 8 children, the son of a car mechanic who was also a pastor on the weekends.  His family never had much money, but they always had food to eat and a roof over their heads.  

He himself has spent 9 years as a single dad, and has always struggled financially. Jason currently has full custody of his two teenage daughters, and receives no child support, while paying child support for his little boy whom he sees every other weekend. He understands what it's like to be strapped for cash. 

  • Career choices to make it work.  "I probably would not make as much money as I do, not that I make very much now,  except that I went back to school a few years ago and obtained my college degree while working full time and being a single dad." His advice is to be very cautious when going back to school and taking out student loans, unless you are positive that you'll make enough money from your degree to pay them off. 
  • Words to live by.  "If you don't have the cash you cannot afford it. Do not spend more money than you make, debt will kill you."  He doesn't have any credit cards, drives a car that is not in very good condition, because he refuses to have a car payment. He would much rather save up cash and pay for a car outright rather than be in debt. While he knows that this is counter cultural in today's society, it is the only way he survives. His family does without many luxuries that other's are accustomed to; such as cable TV, vacations, and dining out. But knowing that they have each other is the most important thing of all. 

Jason Stover is a single father of three and has his own blog, Lone Ranger Dad; he is trying to figure out his journey and help as many people as he can along the way. 

Hearing the tales of single parenting from a father's perspective has been truly enlightening for me, as a single mom and I hope will be inspirational and helpful for single parents everywhere. Just remember you aren't alone, there are single parents around every corner making it work financially and otherwise.

 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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