Most of us choose not to be a single parent. However, in some cases, it happens without warning. Now you’re a solo parent with kids and all the responsibilities that come with it.
You may be asking yourself, “How can I do this alone?” You’re not alone. I understand. I’m a mom of 7, with my youngest daughter being born with Down Syndrome.
I became a solo parent in 2011 after my husband died in an accident. I was three months pregnant with our 7th child. I immediately had to quit my job to be available for the kids, ages 2, 5, 7, 9, 11, and 14. At that moment, I asked myself, “Now what?”
The idea of being a single parent is often romanticized in the media, but the reality is that it IS challenging. There are days when my teenage kids pluck every nerve I have and juggling the doctor appointments, school activities, and work is overwhelming.
My kids rely on me. I’m their only parent. No matter what age they are, and no matter what stage of life they are in, I’m mom. The best thing I can do is provide them with a whole lot of love, and of course the daily necessities they need.
This is where, for me, a budget plan is so important.
How to Create a Budget Plan
The first step is creating a budget plan. A budget will relieve the daily stress or worry, and that awful feeling of dread with the thought of looking at your daily checking account balance. Also, this will help keep your spending under control and ensure that all of your bills are paid on time each month. It may seem like an overwhelming task at first, but I promise it gets easier over time. Practice makes perfect. 😊
I’ve created a few helpful tools for you to know exactly where you are in your budget journey. It’s great to visualize what you have to work with when it’s on paper.
The Monthly Income Tracker allows you to write in each week’s income. Total each week to get the Total Income for that month. This includes income from your job and side hustles.
“Spending” is where you’ll put the total amount you’ve spent for the month. This is everything you spend (rent, car payment, credit card payments, gas, and even the trip to Starbucks for the Grande Café Mocha 😊).
To keep track of your spending, keep all your receipts or statements in an envelope and add the totals of each receipt/statement to get your spending.
If you’re not thrilled about keeping an envelope, another idea is to take pictures of the receipts on your phone. By subtracting the Total Income from Spending you’ll get the “Net Profit”.
Basically, what that means is what you have leftover. The “Saved” space is where you can input what you’ll put in your savings account for that month. All months are included in this one-page printable. Easy and all the information on one page.
The Bills Checklist can be used to list all your monthly expenses, with due dates of course, and then mark off each time they are paid. Just add the type of bill, i.e., RENT, with the amount owed next to it. Peace of mind that the payment has been made.
Now that you have an idea of how much money is brought in each month, and what your monthly expenses are, it's time to see other ways to use your money wisely.
Grocery shopping on a budget is a difficult task, especially if you have many mouths to feed, but it can be done.
How to Shop for Groceries
The key to grocery shopping is to plan ahead and make a list of what you need before you go to the store. I will be the first to impulse buy while waiting to checkout. Yikes!
To save money when grocery shopping, it's important to take advantage of coupons and store deals. There are many websites that offer coupons for groceries that can help you save money.
How to Cut Down Your Spending
Staying on budget can be difficult. But it doesn't have to be if you know how to cut back on your expenses. Here are some easy ways I save money without giving up on what we enjoy.
Cook at home more often. Cooking at home is not only cheaper but healthier too! You can save a ton of money by cooking your own meals.
I’m not saying don’t go through the McDonald’s drive-thru and get that Happy Meal your child may want. But maybe save it for a special occasion? My youngest daughter knows when we get done with her eye doctor appointments, a Happy Meal is on the menu. She appreciates it and looks forward to it.
Packing your lunch is another way of saving money and eating healthier. It’s also a timesaver by already having your lunch ready to go and not having to deal with going out during your lunch break.
I know that most children, especially teenage children, want to wear the last fad, or name-brand shoes, jeans, or hoodies. The cost of a pair of shoes can be more than $100!
Rather than paying the full price, shopping at thrift stores, resale shops, or the local buy, sell and trade groups are great options to get slightly used clothing. Heck, you may even find items with original price tags still on them.
Another great way to save money is by comparing rates from different providers to make sure you are getting the best deal possible. I personally just did this a few months ago, and I was able to save $134 per month between my car insurance and cell phone bill! That’s a huge win in my book.
I hope you are able to use some of these ideas to help you with your single parent journey. It may be challenging, and you may be faced with many obstacles. You've got this, and you’ll do GREAT!
Grab the files I created below!