If you ask several of your friend’s what their greatest joy in life is, their answer could very likely be their children. When people decide to have children, their lives are changed forever.
Most people picture themselves getting married eventually and settling down to have children. What people don’t anticipate is separation or divorce.
Sometimes separation or divorce is inevitable. In these cases, it can be difficult to decide who should have custody of which children.
Because of divorce, many parents are forced into being single parents. While this is difficult, most parents are happy about and willing to take care of and raise their children even if they must do it on their own.
Many people know that raising children on their own is harder than raising them with two people, yet they still buckle down and do the best they can because they love their children. Being a single parent obviously has many challenges.
One of the biggest challenges of being a single parent can be learning how to budget. You now must support your family with only one income coming into the home.
While it may seem impossible, nearly 13 million American parents do it every day. They learn what they need to do to budget, and they make it work.
What do single parents need to do to budget? Here are a few tips on how they can get started.
First, Assess Your Finances
The first thing you should do is take a look at the status of your current finances. It’s unfortunate but divorce is not cheap, especially if it took a long time to reach an agreement. Once the divorce is final you’ll most likely be left with a considerable amount of legal debt as well as typically couples are expected to split any liabilities such as the mortgage, car payments and any other long term or even short term loan liabilities from installment loans, cash advances etc…
Next, Adjust Your Budget
Once current liabilities have been assessed every single parent should sit down and re-adjust their budget. They need to look at their fixed costs, variable costs, and one-time annual costs, and try to compare these costs with how much money they think they will make within the year.
Some examples of fixed costs are bills that arrive at your door every month. Monthly costs could include bills for TV, cable, internet, insurance, and utilities.
Although no one really likes to pay these kinds of bills, they are necessary to pay if you want to have a permanent residence. These are costs that you usually cannot cut out of your budget.
Then you have your variable costs. Variable costs are costs that are not as fixed as a monthly bill.
Check Your Variable and One-Time Annual Costs
Variable costs vary between people and families, but they could include clothing, groceries, money spent on eating out, traveling, vacations, etc. Families will spend different amounts of money on different things, so your family’s specific budget will be customized to your family.
One-time annual costs can include but are not limited to real-estate taxes, income tax, Christmas presents, registration renewals, and other payments that are made once a year. When one parent is newly single, usually they start looking for ways that they can trim down the amount of money they spend each month and each year.
In general, the area that you’re probably going to be able to cut back on the most is the variable cost category. As discussed earlier, fixed costs are usually costs that cannot be eliminated from your budget.
You may be able to pay less on your fixed costs, but you will most likely not be able to get rid of any of them. Variable costs are where you are going to be able to do the most trimming.
If you were able to spend a lot of money on clothing before you separated from your partner, you may not be able to spend as much money on clothing if you are now a single parent. Additionally, as a new single parent, you may have to pay for things that you are not used to paying for.
These things are most likely going to be related to your children and the care of your children, like daycare, childcare, transportation for your children, or education. Another issue that single parents must face is that they may simply just not make enough money to be able to support their family anymore.
Many single parents face a difficult decision when they reach this point. It can be difficult to just quit their current job and try to find a new job in this economy.
Because of this, many parents decide to go back to school and get a higher degree so that they can secure a higher paying job. Before a single parent makes this decision, they should carefully consider what they really want to do.
Going back to school could cause much financial strain on the family. Single parents should make decisions about their financial situation with the best interests of their children in mind.