“Single Mom” is a broad term that describes many different situations.
However, for the most part, single moms are typically mothers who are responsible for the day-to-day care of their children on their own.
This can be not only taxing emotionally and physically, but it can cause some financial difficulties as well.
Like I said, every situation is different – some mothers receive financial support from the other parent and others don’t.
Without getting into the complications of the parenting situation, I’m going to focus on how single moms can survive financially on their own:
1. Get to Know Your Money
In most cohabitation situations, whether you are married or not, one partner tends to overlook the finances more than the other.
If you were not this partner, it’s time to get acquainted with your money.
That means you need to know how much money is coming in and where it is going.
The best way to do this is to start an income/expenses tracking sheet. You’re not looking to create a budget just yet – you’re just going to get a feel for where you are spending your money.
I’m not going to get into how to create a budget, since that’s the obvious answer to any financial dilemma.
However, having a visual representation of your earnings and spending helps to put your situation in perspective.
2. Make Smart Money Decisions
Surviving financially as a single mom means making the most out of every dollar.
This is often referred to as “frugal living” and it’s not about living as cheaply as you can. It means being intentional about how you spend your money.
Looking for free alternatives is a frugal way of living. For example, you can borrow books from the library instead of buying them or you can check local “buy nothing” groups for household goods.
(I scored a perfectly good Keurig off one of these groups – changed my coffee game!)
Living frugally also means looking for ways to save money. This includes not only shopping sales and using coupons but also installing things like thermostats to regulate your heating costs.
These may seem like very small changes but, when they add up, you’re looking at significant savings.
3. Don’t Rely on Child Support
I really hate to make this point because there are so many awesome dads out there that naturally take responsibility for their children – both emotionally and financially.
However, I need to make this point because there are many that don’t.
And even the ones that do may run into financial hardship and not be able to make payments or have to reduce the payments they do make.
When I say don’t rely on child support, I mean don’t lean on it as a source of income. Focus on setting yourself up financially to be able to take care of your children on your own.
You can look at child support as an extra income that you can put into a savings account or use to treat your kiddos.
Or take it when you receive it and get caught up on things your kids don’t need on a regular basis – clothes, toiletries, etc.
Just be wary of relying on it to pay your bills and buy your groceries.
If you receive it, certainly use it however you see fit, but take it from me – when child support is infrequent and virtually non-existent, you’ll be glad you’ve set yourself up to take care of things financially on your own.
4. Start a Side Hustle
There are so many opportunities for single moms to make a little extra money on the side – and I’m not talking about MLM and pyramid schemes!
You can use the internet to your advantage and start a virtual side business.
If you’re savvy with social media platforms, such as Pinterest, you can become a virtual assistant.
Likewise, if you love to write, you can sell content as a freelance writer.
You can even make crafts and sell them online.
Even though time is a precious commodity for a single mother, if you are interested in making some extra cash, there are plenty of opportunities you can explore that don’t take up a whole lot of time.
5. Reconsider Your Daycare Costs
Working is a necessity for most single moms and, unless you can work while your kiddos are in school, you need to put them somewhere.
Daycare costs can be astronomical and you may find yourself spending most of what you earn at your job on paying someone to watch your kid while you do so.
Before you pull your children from daycare to save money, check to see if there are government programs that will help subsidize the cost.
When my daughter was in daycare, I was able to take advantage of a program that cut the costs significantly because I was a single parent and considered “low income”.
Otherwise, check into private childcare in your area. You may find someone willing to charge less than daycare that provides more flexible hours for watching your little one.
6. Plan Ahead
Worrying about future financial needs as a single mom may seem pointless when you are currently worrying about present financial needs.
However, looking ahead will save you from running into financial difficulties.
Everyone, not just single moms, should be putting aside money every month into a savings account.
Easier said than done when you’re living paycheque to paycheque, but doing so will save you from having to rely on credit cards or loans to make ends meet – which will cost you far more in the long run.
Look at your savings not as “Oh my god I have to retire someday/send my kid to college!” but more like “If I put this $20 away now, I might need it next week for groceries.”
Approaching savings on a smaller scale makes it far less stressful and, once you get accustomed to putting money away, your savings will slowly grow.
The Joys of Single Motherhood
Despite how stressful and challenging being a single mother is, especially financially, there is no shame in embracing your situation and taking joy in it.
By making smart money decisions, finances will soon become the least of your worries and you can focus on building an amazing life for you and your kiddos – on your own!
Are you a single mama? How do you manage your finances? Share your secrets in the comments!