Approximately 12 million single-parent families face financial problems with an added level of urgency—they are trying to tackle their money mountains with no live-in backup to provide assistance.
For these parents, not having enough money is their number one worry, and most single parents will tell you it is not easy to make sure there is enough money at the end of each month.
Although the obligations of the single parent include the basic provision of food, clothing and shelter from day to day, that is only the beginning. They must also plan for the future.
Single Parent Magazine writer Nancy Winebarger encourages single parents to find employee benefits that support them. Today’s mothers and fathers should be prepared to negotiate things such as schedule flexibility, childcare requirements, decent wages, health insurance, retirement and tuition reimbursement with a potential employer.
Adaptations in lifestyle can make a big difference in the finances of single-parent families. Andrea Engber of Single Mother magazine says it is often necessary to change the way one thinks about money in order to make it alone. Sometimes one must scale down their lifestyle by moving into a smaller house, downgrading to a less expensive car, looking for cheaper insurance, seeking lower interest rates on loans and credit cards and cutting corners in other areas. According to Engber, every day that debt is not decreased, money is lost. Other saving solutions might include teaming up with another single parent and sharing a home, magazine subscriptions, meals, utilities, rent and childcare.
Family finance advisor Charles Ross believes there are no “cookie cutter” recommendations for single parents. The goal, according to Ross, is to balance the current lifestyle and finances of the single-parent family with future goals and needs. One way to protect against emergencies and hardships is to have the proper insurance coverage and durable powers of attorney to protect their family should tragedy occur.
Disability insurance, health insurance and life insurance, along with a will or estate plan can provide for future educational needs, childcare, home and health care for children of single parents. Without a will or estate plan, children can become wards of the state, along with everything for which the parent has worked so hard.
With all of the costs involved with raising a family on one income, how do parents save money? Ross urges single parents not to lose heart. Saving money just a little at a time adds up, though it may be difficult. Those who need help with a budget and other financial help can take advantage of the many, free or low-cost assistance available through consumer credit counseling services, government entities and some religious organizations.
Locally, a good place to contact is the Consumer Credit Counseling Center of the Tennessee River Valley, a division of Family and Children’s Services. Call (423) 490-5620 for details.
There are many ways for single parents to receive help, financially and otherwise. Sometimes merely making the need known can make all the difference.
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