When your parents said “it takes a village to raise a child”, they weren’t kidding. So, how are single parents supposed to take on the challenge?
After your first child was born, you probably never dreamed that you would be raising them alone, yet 19.6 million children are being raised by solo parents in the United States. This is a difficult road to walk and can lead to many financial challenges.
No doubt raising a child is a rewarding -and expensive- undertaking. Statistics reveal that, as of 2017, the cost of raising a child from infancy to eighteen years of age is $233,610. Not exactly pocket change.
So how is a single parent on a single income supposed to rise to the challenge of raising their little one with the best life possible? Here are 4 pieces of parental advice on how to overcome the financial challenges of solo parenting.
1. Having Childcare
Having reliable childcare is essential for life as a single parent. It’s one of the biggest pieces of parental advice for making your life as a solo parenting successful. However, childcare is notoriously expensive and can eat up a lot of your single-person budget.
The Care.com 2019 Cost of Care survey found that parents are paying an average of $596, $211, and $199 each week for a nanny, daycare, and family care for a single child.
The survey goes on to say that 74 percent of mothers and 66 percent of fathers have their workday interrupted by childcare needs, 63 percent have to change jobs just to be able to afford childcare, and 31 percent say they’ve gone further into debt just to cover the cost of a babysitter.
You need childcare to go to work, you need to work to pay for childcare – It’s a vicious cycle! Thankfully, there are other solutions.
SOLUTION: Find a family member or other parent
Your friends and family love you, and they probably adore your kids, too. Many family members will be willing to look after your little one for free while you’re at work. Even if you are inclined to pay them for their service, it won’t be nearly as expensive as professional care would be.
You can do a ‘mom swap’ and take turns babysitting for single mothers in your group of friends.
It can also be helpful to look into child tax breaks to help you reduce the cost of child care.
2. Entertaining your Kids
As a parent, we want our kids to have the best in life. We want them to have fun toys to play, new cell phones as they get older, and plenty of things to do for the years in between. But when you’re relying on a solo-income to provide for your family, buying tickets to Disney World and shelling out sixty dollars for a trip to the movies isn’t exactly in the realm of possibility.
SOLUTION: Look for Budget-Friendly or free things to do
Here’s a great piece of parental advice: don’t let a lack of funds interrupt time out with your kids! There are plenty of cheap or free things you can do together, such as:
- Go on a hike
- Plan a scavenger hunt around town
- Build a blanket fort
- Have a movie night at home (or find a ‘move in the park’ festival in your area)
- Go to the library and plan a picnic
- Swim at the beach and build sandcastles
- Bake something together
- Play board games or create your own
- Do crafts at home
- Learn a musical instrument
- Volunteer for something fun like spending time with animals at your local shelter
These are all great things you can do with your children that allow you to bond and have fun without spending a fortune.
3. Debt and credit
Here’s some smart parental advice: if you have debt, it’s time to banish it for good.
Having $2000 worth of debt at a 10 percent interest rate means you’re shelling over an extra $200 a year just to cover the cost of keeping debt. No doubt you’d rather spend that money on groceries, bills, or s savings plan for your kids.
The sooner you banish debt and establish some good credit, the easier it will be to get on with your life as a solo parent.
SOLUTION: Supplement your income and budget, budget, budget.
Set up a budget and assign every dollar you earn a role in your monthly bills. Keep tracking these expenses to ensure you’re sticking to your plan.
You can also look for ways to supplement your income, such as picking up a second job online or from home or renting out a spare room in your house. Moving in with someone in a similar situation as yourself or living with a family member and sharing expenses can also make it much easier to tackle debt.
4. Groceries and Food Expenses
According to the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, as of 2019, a single parent with two children under the age of ten will spend anywhere from (thrifty plan) $413.20 to (liberal food plan) $810 a month on groceries. There is no doubt that this can take a huge chunk out of your monthly budget.
SOLUTION: Freezer meals and food planning
You may be surprised to learn how much money you will save by planning your meals in advance. Having each meal carefully written down for each day of the week helps you avoid impulse purchases and reduce (if not completely eliminate) wasted produce in your refrigerator. Only buy what you need.
Taking every Sunday to do food-prep and pack away freezer meals is another great way to ultimately cut costs and ensure you have a healthy meal to turn to when you come home exhausted after work.
Check into loyalty cards, such as PC Optimum points. Signing up with these cards will help you get money off your grocery bills, earn you points that can be used to buy groceries, or may even have a cashback option so you can earn while you shop.
Being a single parent can be financially challenging, but don’t be discouraged. You can successfully raise your kids on a single income without sacrificing your life to work. By following these 4 financial and parental advice tips, you’ll be on your way to being debt-free.
About Sylvia Smith
Sylvia Smith loves to share insights on how couples can revitalize their love lives in and out of the bedroom. As a writer at Marriage.com, she is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt this principle in their lives too. By taking purposeful and a whole-hearted action, Sylvia feels that every couple can transform their relationship into a happier, healthier one.