Many single mothers deal with unique financial challenges. Even if you receive alimony or child support, you may provide most of your household’s income. As a result, you must balance monthly spending for multiple people with retirement planning and other future goals.
Doing this on one income is possible by taking steps to gain control over your finances and increase the amount of money you have left after your monthly expenses.
This article will cover some money tips for single mothers — including budgeting, cutting expenses, starting a part-time job or side hustle, and saving consistently for the future.
1. Create a Budget
Budgeting is a critical first step because it shows where each dollar goes monthly. This reduces financial stress and helps you live within your means.
List your income, which may include:
- Your job
- Child support
- Other assistance programs
After that, list all your expenses. Categorize them into:
- Fixed expenses: Rent/mortgage, car payment, utilities, debts, etc.
- Variable expenses: Groceries, gas, shopping, entertainment, etc.
Finally, create a section for savings and investments. Divide this section into items such as:
- Emergency fund
- Retirement accounts
- Other investments
2. Cut Monthly Expenses Where Possible
Cutting monthly expenses can help you reduce stress and create more room for essentials like groceries and childcare. You can also save/invest more for the future as your situation changes.
Review your expenses in your budget and see what you can cut, like subscriptions or eating out.
Another way to cut expenses is by reducing interest rates on debt. Renegotiate credit card APRs if possible. Consider a balance transfer credit card to pay off credit card debt at lower interest. Refinance loans, such as your mortgage, auto loan, or personal loan.
3. Start a Part-Time Job or Side-Hustle
You can only cut expenses so far. Increasing your income is the next step to enhancing your financial situation.
Picking up a part-time job can be an easy way to do this if you prefer a more predictable schedule and income. Serving and bartending are popular part-time jobs, but many more opportunities exist.
Starting a side hustle can give you more flexibility and control over your schedule and income. Some side hustles to consider include:
- Rideshare services
- Delivery driving
- Online tutoring
Whether you pick up a part-time job or a side hustle, find something that matches your skills and interests. Make sure to balance the extra work with your primary job’s responsibilities, parental duties, and personal time.
4. Save Consistently for the Future
After cutting expenses and boosting your income, you may have more discretionary income each month for short-term emergency expenses and long-term goals like your retirement and your children’s college expenses.
Start by ensuring you have at least six months saved in an emergency fund. This can protect you financially in case of a car accident, job loss, or other unexpected event. You will not have to worry as much about incurring high-interest credit card debt.
Explore your retirement options, such as your workplace 401k and IRAs. These offer tax advantages that help you save more. They also let you invest in various securities to potentially enjoy more investment growth.
Look at 529 plans for your children’s college education. These are state-run plans you can contribute to with after-tax dollars. However, investment growth is tax-deferred, and withdrawals are tax-free if you spend them on qualifying education expenses (tuition, fees, etc.).
The Bottom Line
Make a budget and use it to cut expenses as much as possible. After that, pick up a side hustle or part-time job to earn more income. Use your extra money to build an emergency fund and save for long-term goals, like retirement and college for your children.
Implementing these strategies takes time and discipline, but the peace of mind and sense of control you gain over your finances is well worth it.
Name: Carolina d’Arbelles-Valle
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