How Single Parents can Deal with Life and Financial Stresses
The biggest struggle that most single parents have is coming up with a balanced budget that works well; one that will pay the car, rent, insurance and cell phone bills, buy toiletries and groceries, allow them to save for their children’s education, emergencies, retirement, personal development, wellness, gifts and even clothing.
A case study
Anne is age 34, a single mother, raising her 10-year-old daughter, with limited financial support. She earns $12,000 a year and spends $600 on monthly rent. She also has other expenses that need to be taken care of, like house cleaning, charity, groceries, cell phone, home and car insurance, not to mention savings. Up until last summer, she juggled between two jobs but resigned from one because it was having a toll on her health.
As you may realize, Anne’s rent is taking more than half her monthly income. Although her baby’s father sends $100 every month for child support, it still isn’t enough to meet all her family’s needs.
Anne’s situation is typical of what many single parents go through today. It makes sense for one to live in an expensive neighbourhood; for the lifestyle and safety, or maybe because of the proximity to school or work. However, in a case like Anne’s where she’s struggling, it is not a wise idea after all.
According to Mr Andrews, an independent financial planner in South Africa, Anne should consider relocating to a smaller, but perfectly safe home. Such places won’t eat up a lot of her income.
He says, “If she could move to a smaller home, then she would have been able to minimize her cost, thereby reducing the amount of stress she has about her financial situation. Besides, Anne may choose to minimize some items in her budget list, or even eliminate them altogether. For instance, she might volunteer her time to charity instead of donating funds every month.
She might also explore the possibility of saving her home and car insurance through a plan that’s sponsored by the employer, for instance, or by merging the two into one policy.
Although a mobile phone is a necessity these days, it doesn’t mean that one has to settle for expensive plans. On that note, Ann could consider a prepaid plan rather than a postpaid one, because then she has control over how much she can use.
In the above case study, Anne lives beyond her means, because she is paying way more rent, so other areas of her budget end up suffering. And it’s not just about rent alone, some single parents take loans to purchase bigger cars, or take their kids to expensive schools, yet in reality, they are struggling with finances.
Single parents, like other people, should lead comfortable lives; they should live in good houses, take their kids to good schools, buy fancy clothes, go for holidays and drive bigger cars. However, if they’re straining, it is advisable that they cut back because they’re shouldering all the responsibilities.
Determining what to change
Often, if one has financial problems, it’s highly likely that they have spending issue or income issue. Sometimes, it’s the combination of both. If the issue is less enough money, one should decide on what they need to do to change the situation – maybe go back to school to qualify for a better job, or try investing. If it’s a spending issue, then one can take the necessary measure to keep their spending in check. For instance, they may decide to get help from the financial planners or join online communities that help people deal with any financial issues that they’re facing.
Finding positive aspects of life
Finding positive aspects might not sound like a solution to financial problems, but it can make all the difference in reducing the daily stresses. One great way for a single parent to accomplish this is by monitoring their progress towards financial goals. Apart from that, they can also take care of themselves and do regular exercises to minimize the overall stress. Healthy living helps clear the mind, which provides enough room for better focus and decision making.