I get it. Being a single parent is tough! I don’t know from experience, but I know that parenting in general – is tough. I work with a number of single parents, and I relate to their struggles.
Tack on the disruption of a global pandemic, and everything that goes along with that (home school, decreased income, etc.) and I am sure these are trying times.
Whether you’ve recently become a single parent, or you’ve been one for a while, keeping your financial house in order can be difficult. Perhaps with a little learning and reading (like my tips below), this may help keep things on the straight and narrow.
TIP #1: TURN A HOBBY INTO A SIDE GIG
Whether you’re working fewer hours, got laid-off temporarily, or just find yourself with more time on your hands, now could be an ideal time to turn a hobby of yours into an income source. From painting and artistic endeavors to offering workout classes, it’s easier than ever to market yourself, your services, and your products online.
It’s very possible to earn extra income from turning your hobby into a side gig. If you do start to see an influx of income, be strategic and intentional with your spending.
TIP #2: CONNECT WITH OTHER LOCAL PARENTS
Juggling your to-do list is very challenging while caring for your kids. Consider setting up a babysitting system with other parents in the neighborhood. Perhaps one parent watches all of the kids one day, then you can watch them another day, and the cycle continues. If your children are not of school-age yet, this can significantly save on childcare costs.
Amidst the pandemic, it may not always be feasible to set up a babysitting system with a bunch of parents. But it may be possible to pick another family or two to create a “quarantine pod” with.
Creating something like this can give you a little bit of extra time to run errands after work, get some free time to make dinner – or whatever you need to do to help streamline your to-do list.
TIP #3: UTILIZE GOVERNMENT RESOURCES
The Benefits.gov website is a good resource. The site offers eligibility and contact information about all Federal programs that provide benefits and services. You’ll also find a list of health & human services, as well as a list of child care support programs. I’d also recommend searching for other assistance programs at the local and state levels.
TIP #4: KEEP YOUR BILLS ORGANIZED
You’re juggling a lot, but staying on top of any recurring expenses and bills is crucial to remaining financially afloat. Keep your bills organized or, better yet, set them to autopay if possible. Late fees and interest can add up fast, making a financially strained household even more stressed.
If you do choose to set up autopay for your bills, be sure your checking account has enough in it to cover the recurring expenses. Getting hit with an overdraft fee is another financial penalty you’ll want to avoid.
TIP #5: PAY OFF YOUR CREDIT CARD (WHEN POSSIBLE)
Much like paying your bills, make sure you are staying on top of your credit card debt. Credit cards tend to have high-interest rates, meaning a missed payment could begin incurring a significant amount of interest right away. If you regularly find yourself in credit card debt, you may want to reassess your monthly budget and spending habits to better reflect your current income and necessary expenses.
TIP #6: RE-ASSESS YOUR BUDGET AND ADJUST ACCORDINGLY
If you’re used to living in a dual-income household, it can be challenging to adjust your spending and saving habits. But living within your means will allow you to better get ahead of any financial turmoil and stay on top of your obligations.
When it comes to assessing your budget, here are a few effective things you can do:
- Adjust your electricity use (thermostat temperatures, unplugging appliances, etc.)
- Review your cell phone bill – could you get away with switching to a less expensive plan?
- Rent out extra space in your home (having a roommate is not a terrible thing!)
- Eat out less often
- Make your own lunches and coffee (especially if you’re now working from home)
- Search for sales when buying things like clothing, electronics, home goods, etc.
TIP #7: PRIORITIZE YOUR TASKS
You’ve got a lot going on with work and home life, and the pressure can seem intense. It sounds easy to say, but the key is to remain calm (hello meditation and deep breathing exercises!). Your kids need to see you as strong and under control!
Realize you are not Superman or Wonder Woman. You cannot do it all. Realizing this will help pave the way for an improved mental state and less stress.
If possible, write down all the things you need to accomplish and prioritize them. Concentrate on one thing at a time. Be positive. Keep open communications with your kids about your to-do list and when you will have time for certain things, but not others. Remove or delegate things that you cannot get to.
No matter how hard you try, things still may not work out. Days may drag on, and stuff may fall through the cracks. Just remember, these are extraordinary times and it will pass.