It’s a tough world out there. Many women find themselves shouldering the burden of a family alone. You may wonder if it is possible for a single mother to support her family on a single income. The truth that we all know, however, is that anything is possible. Here are some tips to help single moms make it on a single income.
Live on a Zero-Base Budget
This is an obvious one, but finding ways you can reduce your expenses can free up some of your funds. The more funds you have available, the quicker you will be able to accomplish the following steps. Finding ways to save money begins with knowing where that money is going. Zero-based budgeting requires you to list your income at the top of the page, and then allocate every dollar of that income to the various expense categories like savings, housing, clothing, utilities, transportation, insurance, food, etc. Software like Mint and everydollar makes this process easy and intuitive. Taking this one simple step will have the same effect on your finances as getting a 20 percent raise.
Have an Emergency Fund
If you have no fund at all, put away $1,000 as quickly as you can. This will give you a cushion should some unexpected minor disaster befall you. Having a cushion will prevent you from having to go into debt and one big rule of thumb, no matter who you are, is to avoid debt.
Pay Off Your Debts
Debt payments are eating up a chunk of your income every month and endangering your family’s financial future. We know we should avoid debt, but if you already have debt, get rid of it as quickly as possible. Doing so will free up more of your income for other things like bulking up your savings.
If your current debts already outpace your ability to pay, it may be time to look at getting legal forgiveness for debts. Bankruptcy is never a fun option, but a Chapter 13 might help you to stay in your home and keep your family off the street, according to Want a Fresh Start. Of course, you should pay your bills if you can, but paying off debt (or even staying current on debt) takes a back seat to keeping your kids’ fed and clothed.
Bulk Up Your Savings
Once your debts have been paid off and the only expenses you have are your home, insurance and utilities, it is time to take the extra money you now have every month and put it into other places. Those places include specific savings accounts for things like your kids’ college funds, retirement, big ticket items you need for your home and beefing up your emergency fund to include six months’ worth of income. Being able to pay cash for your big-ticket items and for your emergency expenses will help you to avoid debt going forward.
If you are a single mother, the question you should be asking is not, “Is it possible to make it on one income?” You don’t really have a choice at this point. The question you should be asking is “How do I make it on one income?” These tips can give you a road map.