With all the challenges of single parenting, it might be the last thing you want to do (even if you know you need to do it). You already have so many other tasks, responsibilities, appointments and duties to keep track of between your child(ren) and yourself — is budgeting really necessary, or even beneficial?
If you’re like many others, you might envision budgeting as a rigid habit that results in bland foods for the sake of saving a few dollars, or never being able to do activities you enjoy.
Budgeting can feel daunting if you haven’t done it before or if it’s been a while since you last practiced it, but it can be one of the most empowering and stress-relieving habits you add to your life.
In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at what it means to be a single parent on a budget, and provide you with five straightforward financial tips to help you budget well.
What is a budget?
A budget is a financial plan that keeps track of your income and expenses. It serves as a road map to managing your finances, helping you to better understand your financial activities and patterns, control your spending, cover all expenses and save more money.
When you’re a single parent, budgeting can feel like just another chore, but it’s an essential tool for helping to avoid overspending and assist you in reaching important financial milestones.
Additional benefits of budgeting include:
Mindful financial behavior
Building up an emergency fund
Accelerating debt repayment
Developing financial flexibility
Promoting wealth building
Improving credit score
Reducing impulse spending
Relieving financial stress
With a little practice, budgeting can come as naturally to you as other concentrated efforts in your life like washing dishes or vacuuming, and it’ll happen almost on auto-pilot.
Single parenting budget tips
A “single parent budget” might sound a little intense, but the beauty of a budget is there’s no one-size-fits-all method. Budgets are based on your unique financial situation; you choose what bills or debts need to be prioritized, as well as how much “spending money” you get.
Here are five beginner-friendly budgeting tips for the single parent who’s just starting (or restarting) their budgeting journey.
Be fully honest with yourself
This might sound obvious, but many people avoid looking at the raw reality of their financial situation, and the thought of having to write out every expense can be intimidating. It can be tempting to round down a few dollars here or add a few extra dollars there to make it look better on paper, but at the end of the day, the only one you’re deceiving (and hurting) is yourself.
Automate all of your bills
Your schedule and brain are already jam-packed full of details as a single parent, the last thing you need is to be worrying about additional fees because bills weren’t paid on time.
Besides eliminating the stress of unnecessary late fines, automating your bills also forces you to prioritize covering essential expenses before indulging in various personal expenses.
Prioritize building an emergency fund
This could be an emergency travel fund (such as in the case of a natural disaster evacuation), an unexpected hospital bill, or a cushion in the face of a job loss. It’s generally encouraged to try and save up three-to-six months of your basic living expenses (like housing and food).
It might seem daunting to try and save money if your financial situation is already a little tight, but you can start small. Choose something small you buy regularly that you don’t need, and turn that into your savings; maybe it’s a breakfast sandwich, a coffee, an energy drink, a donut.
Live a frugal lifestyle
If you have student loans, credit card debt and a car payment — spending multiple figures on designer items may not be the most prudent course of action. Learning how to cook and meal prep is much more cost effective than eating out. You can find surprisingly high-quality clothes, appliances, furniture and more at thrift stores and other convenience stores.
For those who are naturally drawn to the more minimalist lifestyle, you may already be living this way. For others, it may be a season of learning how to live more simply.
Reach out for professional help
Feeling a bit overwhelmed? Not sure where to begin with budgeting? We’re here to help.
Our team here at Mazzitti & Sullivan specializes in helping men and women work through various life transitions and challenges, as well as prepare you to navigate them in the future.
Recognizing that every client is a unique individual with their own skills, strengths, learning style and personal goals, we work closely with you from day one to provide personalized support.
To speak with one of our qualified advisors and learn more about our different services, send us a message or give us a call today at 800-543-5080.