As a single mom, budgeting and planning for expenses can be rough because there’s only one income to take care of the entire household. Even if you’re getting child support, it’s likely only enough to cover some of the expenses for your kids.
Budgeting and financial planning has been a huge stressor for me because while I make things work with the money we have, there’s not much left over if anything unplanned were to happen.
But of course in life we can’t ever anticipate when something unforeseen will happen, (you can only assume it will happen at some point!).
You know things like:
- Something breaking on your car
- Your house flooding
- Some appliance breaking
- An unexpected health issue for you or your kids
- And the list goes on
So if you’re struggling to even make ends meet, or you have enough to get by but not much else, how do you plan and budget for those unexpected expenses?
Financial Planning Tips For Single Moms
Know what’s coming in and going out
You can’t have any type of budget, or plan for anything unexpected, if you don’t know what your regular weekly or monthly expenses are.
I admit that for a little while, I did not look at my checking or savings account, and I didn’t really keep track of what my expenses were. I know that probably sounds ridiculous but I didn’t want to face how financially strapped I was.
You may think if you avoid it, you don’t really have to deal with it.
Of course I eventually realized that was SUPER poor planning and decision making on my part. I have a responsibility to make sure my kids are taken care of and I want to be a good example for them in showing them how to budget money.
Now I keep track of all my income and expenses in my planner. I write out both my weekly and monthly expenses.
Writing out my what I’m earning and what my expenses are, helps me to actually keep track of what I am spending and what I’m left with every month.
If I receive my bills through email or if it just comes straight out of my account, I will plan to keep track of it but I always forget about it.
If you’re a pen and paper girl or you know it would be beneficial for you to keep a written log of your expenses, you can check out The Daily Planner For Busy Moms in the shop! This planner includes several budgeting pages to keep you on track!
So once you know what your regular income and expenses are, then you can start to budget for any unexpected expenses.
Be prepared for the unknown
Do your best to anticipate upcoming expenses. If you’re driving an older car, or your dishwasher has seen its better days, start saving up to replace the item.
I knew my car was getting older and the mileage was creepin’ up, so I started to put a little money away because I knew it was inevitable that something would eventually break and need to be fixed.
You may also want to start keeping an eye out for good deals on a replacement.
A helpful tip is to pay attention to any holidays coming up. There’s almost always deals every major holiday!
Save bonuses from work or tax returns
If you receive a year end bonus at work or you get a tax return, this can be an easy way to build up your emergency fund.
Because this money isn’t in your usual budget, it’s easy to take it as soon as you get the money and stick it in your emergency account without it taking a toll on your regular lifestyle.
Even if you only take half and put it away, every extra bit helps!
Use a credit card (sparingly)
This isn’t my favorite option because credit cards can get you into further into debt really quickly!
It’s easy to spend money that’s not yours!
Plus credit card debt has interest that accrues and you end up paying back a lot more in the long run.
However, obviously emergency situations happen and if you absolutely don’t have the money, use your credit card.
Then start an emergency savings fund, (because you know this isn’t gonna be the last time something comes up!)
Start an emergency savings fund
Set up a savings account and add to it monthly. Even if you can only add $25 to the account every paycheck, that’s an extra $600 a year. If you can add $50 every paycheck that’s an extra $1200 a year!
Keep in mind those are low estimates because you may get paid more than twice a month.
Use this account only for completely unexpected expenses and make sure you know how much is in the account. If you have to take money out of it, replace it as quickly as possible.
This again highlights the usefulness of any bonus money you receive from work or tax return money. You can use it to replace any money you had to take out.
How can you replace the money?
Take a look at your budget and figure out where you can cut back on some expenses.
- Do you order out every week? Try making bulk meals that will last a few days that you can eat for leftovers or that you can freeze.
I love using my crockpot for this because it makes a ton of servings! I also will make pasta because again you can make large servings and freeze it for later.
- Do you buy coffee before you go to work? Make your own at home and bring it with you.
- Can you work a few extra hours of overtime?
- Do you take your kids out to activities that cost money? Try taking them to places that don’t cost anything.
- Can you start a side hustle?
I’m sure it’s pretty stressful thinking about money, I know it is for me! Clearly I avoided most things money related for a long time!
But don’t try to avoid keeping track of your expenses or let yourself get too distracted to financially plan for both your life and your kids lives.
Understanding where your money is going and how much you’re spending will help you plan for the future.
Using these financial planning tips for single moms will only help you prepare for those unexpected expenses in the long run!