Managing single parent money
Managing money as a single parent is challenging but not insurmountable. Many single parents I speak with frequently mention that they have … “More month than money”. With the uncertainty of the current economy, single parents may be even more worried. This leads to more negative thinking such as … “no money”… than ever before. A lot of energy is wasted on “worry” instead of using energy to focus on “solutions”. I have yet to meet a parent, single or not, who improved their financial standing simply by “worrying”. Taking action not only moves things along, it also improves your state of mind. Instead of wallowing in “I cant’s” and “I’ll never get ahead” … you’ll be actively pursuing a more secure financial future for you and your family.
There is a plethora of information available on the web and in book stores that can help single parents manage their finances. Once finances are under control, a disciplined savings plan must be implemented.
Most people severely underestimate the amount of money they spend on food, gas, housing, etc. The first step you must take is to manage your cash flow on a monthly basis. This does not involve simply creating a budget. A strong plan involves keeping every receipt for every item you purchase over the month, even it’s a $1 back of chips. You will be very surprised how much money is spent on snacks or unnecessary items. My first experience with implementing the “receipt plan” left me in shock. I was amazed how the “little things” quickly added up. After visually recording my spending on a worksheet, I took a long hard look at where our family’s money was really going.
Once you understand how much money is spent on “needs”, your next step is focusing on a savings plan. No matter how small the amount of money, commit to allocating a certain amount of money to savings every month. The amount can be as small as $5 a week or $100 a month. After savings, then look at how much money you want to dedicate to “treats” … such as a bargain movie or a family outing for ice cream. After allocating your money, you must DISCPLINE yourself to stay on track. It can be painful at first, but you won’t accomplish anything without a little discipline and a lot of hard work.
There are a few financial books that I recommend as incredibly useful. I have read almost all of David Bach’s books. I initially thought as a single parent, his books were meant for me. But once removed the stumbling blocks in my own brain and stopped limiting my own potential, I found myself suddenly having more money. By far, the best book Bach has written in my opinion is the Automatic Millionaire. This book can be found at Amazon but also at your local library. I would highly recommend purchasing your own copy of the book so that you can make notes in the margins and highlight important sections.
Another book that helped inspire me to make changes and make more money is written by Larry Winget. His books tend to be very straight forward, but as long as you view the book as an opportunity to learn and take personal responsibility, you’ll see change in your life. Below are a few website you can visit to find other tips. But remember, change starts within and won’t start until you choose to begin!
Earned Income Credit (EIC) – (Many parents overlook this credit/refund)