5 Budgeting Hacks For Single Moms
Motherhood is a challenging role, and having to go through it alone makes it even harder. Raising a kid is not only a huge responsibility, it can be financially burdening as well.
As a single mother, raising a child on a single income takes a lot of financial planning. To some single moms, budgeting may seem like a challenging concept because it’s hard to budget when you can hardly make ends meet.
One cannot simply do it alone without taking steps to closely track your money. Here are a few steps to get started.
1) Setting up your budget
One of the biggest parts of managing your finances is budgeting. It’s basically making the most out of the available resources that you have. The challenging part is how to allocate your resources properly.
- Start by doing a monthly financial audit
Write down every source of income that you have. Include income from your job, money from side jobs and any other income you receive on a regular basis.
After having a full look at how much you actually have on hand, write down every debt, bill, or obligation that you have to pay regularly or at least for the month. The only realistic approach in this exercise is to be completely honest with yourself about your finances and spending.
- Calculate your debt to income ratio
Debt to income ratio is the amount of your monthly debt versus your income. To determine this, add up all of your income including those that came from other sources.
Then, add up all of your debts such as your mortgage, personal loans, and car loans. Next, divide your total debts by your income. This percentage is your debt to income ratio.
Here’s an example:
|Total monthly debt payments||₱18,000|
|Debt income ratio||₱18,000/₱30,000
The example above shows that the total debt takes up 60% of your income.
The higher your debt to income ratio is, the harder it is for you to get approved for bank services such as home loans, car loans, or even credit cards.
With a single income, and especially if you have zero to no savings, having a high debt to income ratio can be financially reckless.
In case of emergency, such as you or your child falling ill, you will have no access to emergency personal loan to bail you out of the situation.
- Plan ahead for important payments
Pay your most important bills first. Usually the top priorities will be food and housing. After paying these, check to see which other things you can’t live without.
Your child’s school fees and day-to-day expenses are also top priority. Electric and water bills are the next on the list.
Other than that, other bills can be optional depending on your needs. Do you have part time jobs online? Your internet bills should be in your list. Do drive your child to school and yourself to work? Your petrol expenses.
The key is to just pay those that are crucial in keeping your necessity and finances afloat.
After prioritizing, look at your bills and determine what you can do to lower your monthly expenses for bill payments. Can you minimize your use of a/c? Should you consider cancelling your cable service? Can you get by without cable?
These are some areas you will want to look at in your budget:
- Monthly mortgage payment or rent
- School fees and daily expenses of your child
- Other debts
2) Applying for credit cards and loans
Credit cards can help you manage your cash flow better, if you know how to manage your repayments well.
They also offer a discounts, cashbacks and rewards points, if you choose the right card. Here’s what you can do with the right credit and financial products.
- Using a credit card for monthly expenses
One of the advantages of owning a credit card is that you can easily track all your expenses and pay them off at once at the end of every month.
However, this can be a double-edged sword. If you are not prompt or if you keep missing your payments, the benefit of having card will be lost, and you will be straddled with debts that can be hard to handle in the long-term.
- Using a personal loan responsibly
Let’s face it, being a single parent comes with a huge financial challenge, that’s why personal loans can be inevitable. In a perfect world, you should incur as less debt as possible. However, for people who are still struggling to maintain financial stability, loans can be helpful.
If you’ve been employed for 3 years or more, you can take advantage of your SSS loan. SSS offers low interest rates and flexible payment options, on top of the insurance that they provide you for your monthly contribution.
Borrow up to ₱2 Million with a 5-year termFast approval and low minimum income requirement!
Personal loans from banks is your next best bet, as they offer low interest rates (lower than those private financing/lending companies) and they offer flexibility in their payment terms from 6 months to 3 years.
However, consider your decision to apply for a personal loan carefully and ensure you are able to commit to the repayment. Failing to pay for your personal loan and your credit card can lead you to dire financial straits.
Healthcare cost can be aggravating if you face it unprepared. For single parents, this is more challenging since they don’t have a partner who they could split their expenses with, especially when it’s their child’s health on the line.
However, it doesn’t have to be if you have health insurance or at least an HMO, or even both.
- HMO and health insurance
HMO is adequate for all your financial needs to settle all basic medical expenses (from simple illness). However, getting a medical insurance will surely give you peace of mind if the medical situation that you are facing is far worse than just a simple illness.
For most employed single parents, getting an HMO is not going to cost them a single cent. However, for health insurance policies, extra effort to allocate some funds into this will be needed.
As a single parent, to be fully prepared for any medical emergencies that will surely take a toll on your finances, you’re better off getting both an HMO and a health insurance policy.
4) Can you earn extra income?
Often, the issue for single parents isn’t actually that they are spending too much, but they aren’t earning enough to pay for the basic necessities for their family. If this is the case for you, you will need to figure out how to earn more to support your family.
Having a part-time job can be tough, and it may not be ideal (or may even feel impossible), but sometimes, you just need to do it. There are many available income opportunities today that have very flexible schedules.
- Ride-sharing driver
If you own a car, you’re in luck because ride-sharing app can help you earn money during your free time, or even during your morning and afternoon drive to and from work!
The more you drive, the more you’ll earn. However, since you’re a single mom and you have more things on your plate, perhaps this side hustle is only best during your transit to and from work.
- Online jobs
There are some jobs that you can do after your 9-5 shift or during your days off. As they are online jobs, you can still adjust the timing to fit your day to day schedule.
English as Second Language (ESL). ESL jobs offer flexibility when it comes to working hours because you can choose to just work for a minimum of one hour a day. Just like any other jobs though, the more effort you put in this job (more working hours) the higher your income will be.
Freelance writer. If you’re bestowed with writing prowess, you’ll easily find income opportunities online as more businesses in the country and off shore take their businesses to the internet.
Virtual assistance (VA). This type of online job is quite broad as it covers a lot of scope – from actual office jobs to e-commerce, as long as they can be done through the computer. Depending on your skillset, find one that will suit your expertise.
Business. On the other hand, you can also choose to venture into business opportunities and investments. These two can have a more promising return or income and offer more flexibility with time, but they come with a risk if you haven’t done your research properly on what business to set up. It may also take up more of your time, which means more time away from your kid.
5) Plan with your kids
Living a humble life where you don’t spend beyond your means is the key to overcoming any financial dilemmas. However, for single parents, it takes more than just that to succeed!
Depending on where you are currently, this can be a process that will improve along the way as you learn how to with time and dedication.