By Valencia Higuera
It can be difficult to make ends meet as a single person; and if you’re single with kids, you’re faced with even more of a challenge. From buying clothes to putting a roof over your kid’s head, it’s all on you.
With the end of the year fast approaching, the next few weeks might be an especially difficult time. Maybe your kids are begging for a vacation during their winter breaks from school, or maybe their holiday wish lists get longer each day.
You might not be able to immediately change your income, but with savvy planning you can have fun with your family without sacrificing the essentials. Budgeting is important for everyone, but it’s absolutely crucial for single parents.
Here are five steps single parents should take to fortify their finances.
MAKE YOUR BUDGET LESS ABOUT LIMITS AND MORE ABOUT ACHIEVEMENTS
Some parents don’t involve their children in money discussions, but if a topic isn’t too heavy and the kids are old enough to understand, involving them can keep the family’s budget on track. Setting goals as a family can keep everyone on the same page and help teach children to view money realistically.
“Talk with kids about the family budgeting process,” said Kevin Gallegos, consumer finance expert and vice president of Phoenix operations for Freedom Financial Network. “Even young kids can participate, especially since a good budget starts with family goals. This will guide the budgeting process, making it more about achieving goals than limiting expenses and make it easier to spend smartly. This way, kids can understand the limitations the family faces in a realistic way while getting to participate.”
It doesn’t matter whether you’re saving for gifts or a vacation, it’s all about setting limits and prioritizing spending.
RELY ON AN EMERGENCY FUND OVER CHILD SUPPORT
Your financial priorities might include keeping the lights on, the landlord happy and food in the refrigerator, anything else might be considered a luxury. But you shouldn’t downplay the importance of an emergency fund. Even if you’re receiving child support, it might not be steady support. And, unfortunately, child support isn’t considered late by the courts until it’s 30 days overdue. At that point, even filing a motion requires additional time to collect what’s owed. Therefore, you need a backup plan, just in case the support doesn’t arrive when you need it.