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budgeting tips

One of the scariest and most intimidating things for me as a single mom is, making sure that I'm financially sound, not just for today but till the day I leave this world. Most often than not, all my financial concerns revolve around whether or not I am able to provide for my son the way I want to.

As a parent, I want to be able to give him the best of opportunities, and as cliche as it may seem, opportunities that I didn't have for myself. Unfortunately, opportunities come with a cost, the better the opportunity, the more it costs. Whether it's better schools, better sports opportunities, or better experiences, it comes with a price tag. Actually, everything comes with a cost but what I have learned is, the more you have in the bank the more choices you have. I wasn't prepared for the fact that as kids grow older, the more you spend on them. I have one child and I still struggle.

I do spend whatever I have on my son's needs, as long as it's still within my means, and the good thing is he understands this, he always has. My needs only come if there's anything left behind to spare, and maybe that's the same for some of you. But the thing is what you don't want to do is find that at the end of the day, you are left with nothing to support yourself with for the remaining of your life when your kids are grown and living their own lives.

You don't want to have to rely on them financially when you've retired. You'd at least want to have a roof over your head that you can call your own and enough money to support you every single month without having to depend on anybody. It's overwhelming having to think about this especially if you're a single mom! You have nobody else, but yourself to rely on.

Amidst everything a single mom carries on her shoulders, budgeting and getting her finances in order might not be the most exciting thing to think about and it may get overlooked. You know that you have to sit down and deal with it but the overwhelm stops you from actually dealing with it. Sometimes, it can feel okay to live paycheck to paycheck but that's not comforting when you look into the future.

I've lived paycheck to paycheck and I've had moments in time when my electricity got cut or didn't know how I was going to pay for my next meal. It wasn't a happy moment in my life, especially with a baby in tow but thankfully, I've been able to turn that around.

The thing is the sooner you take control of your finances, the better your outcome will be. Having a budget and sticking to it enables you to ensure that hard-earned money is being used wisely, and you are able to face any financial challenges that come your way with some confidence.

It will definitely help pave the way for a brighter future for you and your kids.

So, let's dive in and explore some budgeting tips for single moms so you can start today.

Budgeting tip #1. Set your short-term or long-term goals

There are many reasons and benefits to creating a budget. More often is about goals you'd like to achieve, which can be short-term, long-term, or both. Having a budget and following that budget will help you achieve those goals. So to start off, set your own goals. Here are some ideas:

  • You want to be debt free

  • Your kid's education

  • A retirement fund

  • Buying a house or a car

  • Planning a holiday

  • Having a savings fund for emergencies

  • Or do you just want to end the constant financial struggles

You can ask yourself what is important to you. Acknowledging what and how important whatever the goal is to you will help you not only stick but get excited about budgeting.

Budgeting tip #2. Assessing Where You Stand Financially

Budgeting starts with understanding your financial situation.

Take a deep breath and gather all the information about your income and expenses.

Look at all your income sources, then track your spending. Note down every penny you spend for a month. It is tedious and cumbersome and truthfully, when I started, I'd be too tired to bother by the middle of the month, but this is important so you can see where exactly your money is going.

Knowing your financial position will for sure give you a clearer picture of where you stand. It's like looking at a map before you start your journey.

Once you have everything written down, you can categorize your expenses into fixed, variable, and one-off.

Fixed expenses are those that stay relatively constant for each month. Some of which include:

  • Rent/Mortgage payments

  • Car loans

  • Insurance premiums

  • School/Daycare fees

  • Utility bills

Your variable expenses, on the other hand, can fluctuate from month to month like:

  • Groceries

  • Entertainment

  • Dining out

  • Shopping

Don't forget to include your one-off expenses as well. This can include:

  • A tire/oil change

  • The visit to the doctor

  • Getting a haircut

Once you've done that, subtract your expenses from your income. Now you can see where you are financially, be it positive or negative.

If you're in the positive, then any leftover money can go to the funds you're planning for, whether it's your education fund, clearing your debt, that holiday, or your retirement fund, or divided into all your funds.

However, if you find yourself in the negative, then here are some things you can and possibly have to do:

  • Go through your expenses and identify your non-essentials and reduce them. Better still cut them out, if you can.

  • If your grocery bill is a bit much, do some research on cheaper options for the products you buy.

  • Find out the best times to shop to get better deals

  • Use coupons

  • Shop with cashback apps

  • Mind your electricity usage. Switch off all your power outlets when not in use - this really helps!

  • Switch mobile/internet provider to one that is cheaper and has better offers

  • Cut back on dining out/ordering-in

The most important thing is to be realistic and truthful with what you can and cannot do when trying to cut down on your expenses. It'll help you stick to your budget and achieve your goals in the long run.

Budgeting tip #3. Create Separate Savings Accounts for your Financial Goals

In order for you to save money for your financial goals, consider opening up separate savings accounts to your main account. By doing so, it can help you:

  • Stay focused. It's easier to stay focused when you have separate savings accounts for each of your financial goals. You'll be less likely to dip into your emergency fund for random purchases. Also, try and make it a hassle for you to withdraw money from these accounts. I've done this with my son's education fund and it really does work.

  • Track your progress. It really does keep you motivated when you see how your savings are progressing towards your goals. Some accounts have online progress trackers and it does get you excited as you inch towards your final goal.

  • Avoid temptation. If you have just one savings account and it's the same account you use to pay your bills etc, it can be tempting to use it for other things.

Basically, if you have separate accounts, you're less likely to touch the money that has been earmarked for your emergency fund or your child's college fund.

Budgeting tip #4. Increase Your Income Portfolio

If you need to boost your finances even more, consider exploring work-from-home job opportunities or any freelancing work. The internet is a treasure trove of opportunities where you can use your skills to make some extra cash.

  • If you have a passion or hobby, you could turn it into a small business. This can include baking, crafting, or even tutoring.

  • If you can, try and invest in yourself and enhance your skills through online courses or workshops. The more you invest in yourself and your abilities, the more valuable you become in the job market.

  • Scout for work-from-home jobs that you can do in your free time

  • Keep an eye out for social media groups related to your profession to seek out any freelancing opportunities.

It won't be easy especially when you feel like you're already stretched thin, so try and find something that suits you and your kids and the spare time that you have to fit one more thing in your already busy life, if an extra income will help tremendously.

Budgeting tip #5. Get Your Kids Involved

One of the most important lessons you can teach your kids is financial literacy.

Unfortunately, it's not taught in schools (not from where I come from, at least!) so by involving them in discussions about saving money and getting them to be excited about it, you are setting them up for better financial awareness.

Start with age-appropriate money lessons. For younger kids, use piggy banks to introduce the concept of saving and spending. As they get older, involve them in family budget discussions and show them how you allocate funds for various expenses. Teach them about the value of money and how to make informed choices when spending.

Open a savings account for your kids and encourage them to save a portion of their allowance or any money they receive as gifts. Watching their savings grow can be an empowering experience for them.

Budgeting tip #6. Overcoming Budgeting Challenges

Sticking to your budget will not always be smooth sailing.

There'll be unexpected expenses or setbacks that will be thrown at you but don't be discouraged. Look back and review your budget and adjust where you need it. Remember that every financial journey is not without its ups and down, but your determination will carry you through those tough times.

If you find yourself overwhelmed or struggling with debt, you may want to consider seeking help from a financial advisor. They'll be able to personalize a plan to help you get back on track.

Financial Thoughts on Budgeting Tips for Single Moms

Embracing the power budgeting will allow you to not only take charge of your current financial situation but also your financial destiny towards the goals that you've already set for yourself.

Always remember that budgeting is not about restricting yourself, it's about making conscious choices toward achieving these goals.

You've got this!

budgeting tips


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