Amanda Was Not the Smartest Person I Know Amanda is my older sister, and she’s a single mother of two. We grew up in a country house outside Michigan. She married her high school sweetheart when she was 27, and they left our small town for the city after their wedding. The last time I saw Amanda for a while was when she came to tell mom and dad she was leaving town with Danny. Danny was a good man; he was about the same age as Amanda.
So many women have found themselves taking more burdens than they are naturally meant to, usually for reasons that are either beyond control or through decisive decisions. As a single mother, you’re the one bringing home all the bacon – an unwelcome thought that probably comes to mind involuntarily from time to time.
How to Survive Conveniently as a Single Mom?
Amanda came back one summer with two kids, Brian and Zara, and what seemed like a truckload of bags. She looked dejected and lifeless. Danny had died in a car crash. Brian, was three years at the time, and Zara, a year-old baby, still depended on her, so she had to adjust to her new reality quickly.
City life was expensive, so she decided to move back to town and get a more moderate place of her own. This was how Amanda became a single mother. Here are some of the most important things she learned.
As a single mom, you’ll shuffle in-between school drop-offs/pickups, dates, time with your girlfriends, and still need to be a high performer at work. You have to combine tasks and be effective at doing them. You’ll also need to know when to say “no” or change your plan.
Budget, Budget, Budget
Budgeting for a single mom involves a lot of planning, thinking, and ‘rethinking’. You’re probably not in a place to impulse buy. You have to plan your purchases and carefully think things through.
Save For Emergency Needs
This is why budgeting is #1. Regardless of how much you earn or spend, you never know when your kids will need something that you weren’t expecting. You never know when you’ll be sick or injured and lose out on your income while you recover. And on that note, make sure you stay up to date with health insurance, both for you and the kids.
Build a Strong Support System
Start with leveraging current relationships – friends, family, neighbors– to take some of the weight off your own shoulders. Since you don’t have an “other half”, try to find solace and support in people who strive to support you. Take the kids to granny’s, ask your neighbor to watch the kids, and seek out single mom support groups..
Have Multiple Sources of Income
As a single mum, make sure your finances have a back-up. If you get laid off, take a pay cut, or lose hours, you’ll need a way to make up that income. Your emergency fund should help a little bit, but it won’t cover all your expenses forever.
Take Care of Your Mental Health
Your mental health is important. Take time off, hang out, go to yoga class, meditate or pray, make time for your hobbies – do what ever you can to avoid single mom burnout. Most of all, accept the praise and support of others. You’re doing a great job!
Avoid debt as much as you can! Once you start accruing debts, it can be hard to get ahead again. If you already have debt, prioritize paying it off or negotiating it.
How to Budget as a Single Mom?
I learned more than a few things from Amanda’s financial management. Amanda wasn’t exactly a book-smart person, at least not when we were young and not now. However, she was smart and resourceful enough to get by with two hungry little mouths to feed.
Craft a Budget:
Your monthly budget will show you what’s being spent, you what’s coming in, and on what items. It can also help you pinpoint the items taking most of your funds.
Keep records of income and expenses
Amanda was prudent with spending, and she kept a record of it all. She studied the pattern of her monthly expenses by checking through at the end of the month, every month.
Your first goal with your budget should be to determine how much you spend. Look at receipts, account statements, and monthly bills to put together a visual depiction of your spending patterns.
Cut back on expenses
Being a single mum Amanda cuts back on many expenses, especially with things that aren’t needs. A trip to your favorite restaurants with your kids might cost well over $40. Making a home meal and getting your groceries at the store stretches that $40 over several meals.
Use a budgeting app:
Normally, Amanda will carefully select what to purchase. She buys only what she needs, and sticks strictly to her budget. She decides what needs to be bought that month when she sits down to organize her budget, and she never strays.
Pick up extra jobs
Occasionally, Amanda takes up a painting job on the weekend, or oversees the children’s park, where she is in charge of playdates arrangements. These little extra jobs not only help her expand her support network, but bring in some extra cash here and there.
Monetize unnecessary items:
When Amanda realizes she’s running out of cash, she sometimes put up some of her old items for sale. Not always at the best price, but she didn’t need them anymore, anyway.
It really is important to have emergency funds. You never know when you need them, especially with kids. Amanda knew her way around savings; she had already saved up $1400 within a year of moving back to town!
Financial Victory as a Single Mom
Being a single mom is difficult, and everyone in Amanda’s life is in awe of her skills. She doesn’t need book smarts to take care of her family – Amanda is financially smart, and that’s worth more than anything.
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