Single Moms on a Budget – Practical Advice for Living Debt Free

Single moms face unique challenges whenplanning a budget. Besides the usual expenses, they must often bear the burden of caring for the children and household themselves, without extra income from a spouse. 

I encourage all single mothers to file for child support. This is especially useful because it enables them to better be able to support the children. Unfortunately, even if you file, the father will sometimes be unable or unwilling to pay, and a long legal battle ensues. 

I recently heard from a single mom that she was behind every month on her bills. This is a rough situation. Here are some practical suggestions as you plan your budget. 

First, you can still use our 
financial percentages as a guide, although the percentages may vary a bit for your household. Figure in expenses like childcare, along with the categories already mentioned. 

Next, look into government help for your insurance, childcare, and housing. Even if your income is too high for some programs, you may qualify for others like WIC (women, infants, children) or heating assistance. 
See our free tools page for useful links.

If you and your spouse have recently divorced or split up, and you are still living in the same house, figure out if you can afford to do this. If you were living on two incomes previously, you may not be able to afford your former standard of living. You may be far better off selling the house and moving to cheaper accommodations. 

Examine the car you are driving. Is the payment too much for you each month? Can you trade it in for something less expensive? 

What are your childcare options? You may qualify for childcare assistance, or you can check with friends or relatives. Often, grandparents are happy to care for your children if you need to find a job during the day. 

As a single mother, food can be a hard expense to cut. It is overwhelming to come home from a day of work, then have to prepare a meal. Consider crockpot recipes that can cook while you work. 

Another option is freezer meals. Take a Saturday, get together with friends, and make a bunch of meals to stock your freezers. Then you can simply stick a meal in the oven as soon as you arrive home from work. 

Because you are the main provider for your children, do not feel like you “owe” it to them to get them whatever they want. Your children will be just fine if you have to 
cut out cable TV or eliminate cellphones for awhile. Do what it takes to trim your budget. 

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