5 Budgeting Hacks For Single Moms

5 Budgeting Hacks For Single Moms

Motherhood is a challenging role, and having to go through it alone makes it even harder. The economic toll on the mother can be overwhelming, as raising a kid is not only a huge responsibility, it can be financially burdening as well.

Raising a child with a single income entails 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 exerting more efforts in your finances.

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.

Make 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.

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:

Monthly income₱30,000
Total monthly debt payments₱18,000
Debt income ratio₱18,000/₱30,000

=60%

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.

Prioritize

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. Childcare is optional, to avoid spending on a nanny or babysitter, it’s more practical and safer to ask your mother or elder relatives to care for your child when you’re working. Not only will you save money from child care expenses, you can also take comfort knowing that they’re in good hands.

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.

Apparently, 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 electric bills? Can you minimize your use of a/c? Can you turn off your wifi before you leave for work and turn it back on when you’re back? Same thing applies to your appliances that consumes electricity.  

Look at your internet and cable bills. Should you consider cancelling your cable service and just opt to watch your favorite shows online? Can you get by without cable? You can have Netflix, instead of other TV services. There are also kids shows that can be found on YouTube and and other sites.

With only you and your kid using the internet, does it make sense to subscribe to a more expensive but faster internet speed or can you settle for the cheapest internet plan offered by your provider?  

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
  • Food
  • Utilities
  • Transportation
  • Clothing
  • Other debts

2) Credit cards and loans

Credit cards can help you manage your cash flow better, if you know how to manage your repayments well. They do not only provide you with more spending power, but they also offer a discounts, cashbacks and rewards points, if you choose the right card.

Consolidate all your 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.

In the first step, you need to list down your income and compare it with your debts and monthly expenses. This time, structure how you’ll spend your allocated monthly budget: should you do the groceries weekly or monthly?; Do you have enough budget to allow your child to eat out for lunch? Otherwise just do most with your groceries and cook both of your lunch for the work days ahead.

Planning may be easy, but sticking to it surely will be the challenge.

Personal loans

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.

HSBC Personal Loan

HSBC Personal Loan

Fast Approval, Low Interest Rate

Turn your aspirations into reality with an HSBC personal loan, with fast approvals and flexible loan tenors.

First off, choose where you’ll apply for a personal loan wisely. 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.

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.

With a higher debt to income ratio, banks will less likely to grant you loans for big ticket purchases like car or maybe a house. Even if your applications do get approved, you’ll have limited flexibility with your payment terms.

3) Healthcare

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. Most private employers in the Philippines provide HMO coverage for their employees, like Medicard and Maxicare. Health insurance coverage like those offered by AXA, Philam Life, and Sunlife are rarely provided. Philhealth on the other hand is automatic, whether you’re a private employee or not.

HMO and health insurance

It’s worth noting that HMOs provide on the spot financial relief to your medical needs, such as hospitalization, routine medical check-up, and even dental check-ups. 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.

While HMO can still cover the expenses for your hospital fees until it reaches its cap, a medical insurance can cover beyond HMO’s limitations. If, for example (God forbid), you or your child are diagnosed with dengue or diseases worse than that, you will have to spend more time in the hospital, undergo tests, need more expensive medicines, and pay for more doctors and specialists, which HMO will not cover completely, but health insurance can.

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. For as low as 30,000 a year, you will be financially prepared to deal with the medical expenses when the need arises.

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) Do you need to 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.

Uber and Grab

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!

On the average, Uber drivers in Manila earns about 80 to 100 per trip. 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 an Uber or Grab stint 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. You don’t really need to exert a lot of effort making your schedule work, because there are online jobs that could easily adjust to your day to day schedule.

English as Second Language (ESL)

Rarejobs, 51talk, and Bibo are just some of the ESL platforms in the Philippines that are always open for Filipinos who have the skills to teach English. On the average, these sites pay around 90 to 100 per hour to their teachers. These platforms are also popular to many working moms in the Philippines, and it has been major a source of income for many of them.

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. The job of freelance writers is simple: They just write contents for websites. This job will pay about 500 to 1,500 per article.

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. The most common venue where you could find VA jobs online are Upwork and Onlinejobs.ph.

Virtual assistance however may not offer the same flexibility as ESL jobs and writing jobs, but they offer a higher earning opportunity. On the average, VA jobs offer US$5 per hour, that’s about 250.

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

One of the biggest challenges of single parents is raising their children. Without a doubt, it’s financially straining as well as physically and emotionally draining. However, when your kids are old enough to understand your situation, have a real conversation with them about what you can afford and what your financial goals are now. Teach them how to save and the value of hard work and money. It would be a bad idea to just spoil them with whatever they want, especially if you’re a single parent, because if things go south, it will be hard for you to maintain their lifestyle.

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.

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