Being a single mom can mean balancing a lot, including a budget. The good news is that single mom budgeting can be easy with the proper knowledge and plan. Finding ways to save on your budget while also keeping your lifestyle in mind will be crucial to successful budgeting.
Being a mom will mean a large portion of your budget will be taking care of your kids’ essentials. And so, if possible, it is fair to ask that the other parent pays for a portion of those costs. Or establish some sort of agreement (i.e., child support) that helps you make the most out of your money. If you don’t have that in place already, definitely talk to the other parent about starting.
Most parents who do not live in the same household already have some plan in place, and if you already do, great! But if you don’t have a plan in place, this article was written for you. Read on to learn more!
Single Mom Budgeting Templates and Budgeting Tips
There are several ways that you can create a budget as a single mom. Some people choose an annual plan to manage their money. While others go for a monthly budget, with a specific holiday budget from October to January to save more money during these more expensive times. There are also different ratios of savings that work well. For example, the 50/30/20 is one popular budgeting ratio where 50 percent goes to essentials, thirty goes to spending, and 20 percent of your income goes towards a savings account.
Other popular budgeting templates include the envelope budget, the zero-sum budget, and the pay-yourself first budget. There are also budgeting apps and tons of excel guides to help with an outline and keep track of both income and expenses. If you haven’t budgeted before, exploring options to find the best for your needs will be extremely helpful.
Once you have a good idea of the budget you want to work with, the next step is to calculate all of your monthly income (take-home pay after taxes) and essential expenses.
Getting the Most Out of Your Budget as a Single Mom
Even if your budget is tight, several strategies can help you get the most out of each budgeting category. Generally, most people will have three types of expenses that take up their budgets. Here are a few tips for each category:
Essentials for you and your kids are not going to be something that you can cut out of your budget. But there are several ways you can save money as a single parent! Here are a few ways to save on the essentials in your single mom budget:
Food and Clothing
Creating a meal plan for each week can be a massive avenue for saving money on your food costs. Get your kids involved in figuring out family-friendly recipes for each week. Couponing and buying in bulk is another great way to save on grocery shopping. Additionally, you may want to consider meal delivery services if you don’t have the time to grocery shop or plan all your meals. Meal delivery services are often cheaper than going out to eat.
Clothing is another essential that can be expensive. The good news is that there are many discount stores and thrift stores (actually an excellent hobby for many adults and children). If you have money to spend, consider high-quality clothing that will last a long time that you can pass from one sibling to another.
Housing and Utility Costs
Depending on the size of your family, downsizing may not be an option. When it comes to utilities, be smart about your electricity and hot water use, and pass those tips onto your kids.
Credit card bills, car payments, student loans, cash advance personal loans, and other loans you may have acquired will need to repay. In some cases, refinancing a loan may be the smart option to save on interest, lower that monthly payment, or pay off debt faster.
Pets are another essential cost if they are a part of your family. Consider low-cost food brands, get creative with toys and accessories. Find cheap alternatives to daycare and free parks or events to entertain your furry friends.
Health insurance, car insurance, renters, or home insurance are a few of most families’ basics. Take a look at your policies and compare them to other providers to find a good balance of cost and coverage. For low-income individuals, low-cost medical insurance from the federal government is a great place to start.
Commuting to and from work is one thing. With kids involved, it could mean weekend trips to practices or school activities, daycares, daily trips to and from school, and more! One way to save money is to look into carpooling with other parents. That way, you don’t have to spend gas every day. When it comes to your commute, do some research on cheaper options to get to and from work.
If you have children of a young age and you work full time, then chances are that you will need child care. Daycare and a nanny can be expensive. Sometimes asking family members to help out even a few times a week could mean saving money on child care costs.
Another significant part of your budget is going to be recreational expenses. This is going to be the part of your budget that you should consider cutting down as much as possible! Focus on having fun without spending money and include your kids when planning!
Take advantage of public places and discount days (standard at museums and amusement parks). Additionally, taking advantage of age discounts while going out can make those fun things cheaper. Take on a no-spend challenge with your family and see how much you can do while minimizing the costs to save money.
Savings and Savings Account!
Finally, the last portion of your budget is going to be saving and financial planning. Whether you have a solid emergency fund or are just starting, savings will be a crucial part of your budget. Setting up automatic payments to savings accounts and looking into different saving options and investments to make the most out of savings. Common advice for savings is to have at least 3-6 months of upcoming expenses in a savings fund for an emergency in your single mom’s budget.
Setting Financial Goals When Single Mom Budgeting
To be successful with a budget, short-term and long-term financial goals will be a big help. By having financial goals in mind, you can set financial priorities, which may help you stay on a budget. For many households, especially one-income households, tackling debt may be the most significant priority. If one of your financial goals is to pay off debt, there are many ways to go about that, while figuring out which debts to pay first, and budgeting will help.
Another financial goal that you may have is to save for a home or a major purchase. Having a concrete plan is another excellent way to motivate yourself to save more and cut down on how much money is going into recreational expenses.
Finding More Money for Your Monthly Budget as a Single Mom
Being a single parent is no easy feat. And depending on the size of your family, the state you live in, and the debt you’re paying, you may need more income to live comfortably. There are many avenues to go down when looking to increase your revenue. Talk to your current employer about a raise or check out how much the average pay in your industry is and consider making the switch. Educating yourself or getting training is another excellent way to earn more in the future.
A side job or side hustle is another option for those moms who are busy and need to make their own schedule. Platforms like Esty and Uber make it easy to get things set up and start making money!
Get a Budget to Start Saving Money and Reach Financial Freedom Today
A single mom budget is a great way to make your money work for you! A budget can help you take care of your essentials like bills and living costs. It can help you continue doing everything that makes you happy, pay off debt, financial planning, and have the cash to save some more money each month.