How to Survive Financially as a Single Mom
Being a single mom is hard enough as it is, but trying to make ends meet can be the most daunting part of all. If you’re used to sharing financial responsibilities with a partner, the sudden shift to single-handedly supporting your family can feel impossible. But you’re not alone—learning how to survive financially as a single mom is something that many women have navigated before you.
In this article, I will share the best tips and tricks for making your money work for you and your family, no matter how much financial pressure you’re under.
Pre-work: Start With Your Mindset
What do you picture when you hear the words “single mom”? If you’re like most people, the first thing that comes to mind is a woman struggling to make ends meet.
She’s working long hours, barely scraping by, and never has time for herself. When you think of your time and money as being constantly depleted, you develop what’s called a scarcity mindset.
But what if I told you that surviving and even thriving financially as a single mom is possible? It starts with your mindset. How you think about your finances will directly impact your ability to manage them.
If you believe that being a single mom means constantly struggling to make ends meet, that’s precisely what will happen. But if you approach your finances with confidence and determination, you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve.
The first step to surviving financially as a single mom is ditching your scarcity mindset and adopting an abundance mindset. When you have an abundance mindset, you believe there is enough money to go around. You know that you can create opportunities for yourself and your family, even if your current circumstances seem impossible.
With an abundance mindset, you approach your financial situation believing that you can always replenish your money. It’s empowering, and it ultimately leads to better financial decision-making.
But what does better financial decision-making look like for single moms on a tight budget? Here are ten of my best tips for creating a more sustainable financial picture.
10 Tips For How To Survive Financially as a Single Mom
1. Establish your financial independence from your ex.
If you’re like most single moms, you didn’t plan on being in this situation. You thought you would be sharing financial responsibilities with a partner, but now you’re doing it alone. And that’s okay! The most important thing is establishing your financial independence from your ex as soon as possible.
If you have joint accounts, open a new one in your name only. And if you’re still working on getting a divorce, keep meticulous records of all financial transactions through your shared account.
2. Get a handle on how much money is coming in each month.
The first step to creating a financial plan of attack is knowing how much money you have to work with. So, take a close look at your income.
How much are you bringing in each month? How reliable is that income? If you’re working freelance or your hours fluctuate monthly, take an average of your earnings over the past six months to get a more accurate picture. Be sure to include factors like child-support payments.
3. Analyze where your money goes each month.
Now that you know how much money comes in each month, it’s time to look at your spending. Open up your bank statement and look at spending categories to get an accurate picture of where your cash goes. You may be surprised to find that you’re spending more than you realized on things like eating out, entertainment, and impulse purchases.
4. Develop a budget using the 50/30/20 method.
Once you know how much money is coming in and where it’s going, you can start to develop a strategic budget. I recommend using the 50/30/20 method, which means that 50% of your income goes towards essential expenses, 30% goes towards discretionary spending (things like taking the kids out for a fun afternoon, buying yourself a new outfit, etc.), and 20% goes towards savings or debt repayment.
5. Make a plan for cutting back.
Having a budget is all well and good, but chances are you will have to make some adjustments to stick with your new plan. If you’re spending more than you’d like in a particular category, make a plan for cutting back.
For example, if you’re eating out too often, commit to cooking at home more or only dining out on special occasions. If you’re spending too much on entertainment, find free or low-cost activities you and your kids can enjoy.
6. Start building multiple streams of income.
If you’re struggling to make ends meet on one income, it may be time to start exploring other options. There are many ways to bring in extra cash, from freelancing to starting a side hustle from home. And the more income you have coming in, the easier it will be to cover your expenses and start saving for the future. Create financial freedom and learn to turn your ideas into cash flow.
7. Understand the financial benefits of being a single mom.
You may not know the financial benefits of being a single mom. For example, you may be able to claim the head of household filing status when you file your taxes, which could lead to a lower tax bill. You may also be eligible for specific government assistance programs, like food stamps or low-income housing. There are tons of free financial resources available, so take advantage.
8. Start building an emergency fund.
One of the most important things you can do for your finances is to start building an emergency fund. This will help you cover unexpected expenses, like a car repair or a medical bill, without having to put the cost on a credit card and rack up debt. Ideally, you should aim to save enough money to cover three to six months of living expenses.
9. Develop a debt-management strategy.
If you’re carrying debt, developing a strategy for paying it off is essential. Start by creating a list of all your debts, including the interest rate, minimum payment, and balance owed. Then, focus on paying off the debt with the highest interest rate first while making at least the minimum payments on your other debts.
If your debt payments exceed 50% of your monthly income, it’s time to consider refinancing your debt. You have several options for eliminating this financial burden, from balance transfer credit cards to personal loans. By refinancing your debt, you can get a lower interest rate and save money on interest payments.
10. Start thinking long-term.
Just because you’re a single mom doesn’t mean you should put your retirement planning on the back burner. In fact, it’s even more important to start saving for the future now to enjoy a comfortable retirement later on. If your employer offers a 401(k) or other retirement savings plan, make sure you’re contributing enough to take advantage of any employer matching contributions.
You should also start investing in a Roth IRA. This retirement account allows you to contribute after-tax dollars, and the money you withdraw in retirement is tax-free. That means you’ll have more money to live on in retirement, which can be a massive help if you’re on a fixed income.
Being a single mom is no easy feat, but it is possible to survive financially. By following these tips and tricks, you can take control of your finances and set yourself up for a bright future.
What other tips do you have for surviving financially as a single mom? Share in the comments below!
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