Stress, finances and single parenthood: An complex concoction which can bring out the worst in any single mother.
Whether you have been a single mother for a few weeks or a few years, it doesn’t take long to notice a difference in a household financially. According to statistics (thanks Bureau of Statistics), roughly 37% of single mothers live on an income predominantly from employment income, compared to 50% living mostly on Child Support and/or Centrelink. The remaining receive income from various sources.
To generalize, the majority of single mothers have one income to bring up their family. Which let’s face it, can be tough!
Then take into account the impact of money and the battlefield it can create. There are a variety of resources that clearly indicate money is one of the top causes of stress, anxiety, disagreements and separation. Within a single parent household, these stresses and levels of anxiety have the potential to increase due to either a lack of main income source or lack of financial support from the other parent.
Being financially savvy as a single parent can be tough and from this, mistakes happen. Below are five common errors single mothers potentially make when it comes to finances.
Money Mistakes Single Mothers Might Make
Single mothers are not creating and implementing an effective budget
Budgeting is a priority within any house, especially when only one (and possibly limited) income is at play. Budgeting allows space to effectively manage income and ensure all essential finances are up to date. It allows consistency and order within the household to prevent unnecessary stress from unpaid bills and debts later on.
That aside, it’s important to budget with intelligence. Set your online bank account to automatically transfer money into your main bills on pay day. That way, your bills are already sorted and you know exactly what is left over for other expenses.
Single mothers are not saving money for a rainy day
It’s one thing to budget on a tight income, but it’s another thing to save. Stuff happens, so it’s important to be prepared. I can testify from experience the feeling of being stuck with an unexpected expense because I didn’t take the time to save. It’s such a difficult and stressful situation that can be avoided through intelligent saving.
Make sure you know all the shopping hacks that save you money. And, with what you save you could put $5 into an online saver account each week, which will pay dividends in the long run. It might not seem like much to start, but when an emergency happens, you have something to get you started. Plus, there’s the added bonus of higher interest. Winning!
Single mothers should never see a man as part of the financial plan
Repeat after me, ‘a man is not a financial plan.’
Please never ever see a man as a wallet that will save you from debt or help pay your bills. It leads to disappointment later down the track. Statistics from the Bureau indicate half of single parents don’t receive any sort of financial income from their ex, which isn’t a very promising fact. It’s also unfair to place pressure on any potential partners to meet financial needs. Allow the relationship to be founded on chemistry, love and communication rather than the size of his wallet.
Single mothers should avoid creating unnecessarily large debt
In short, ‘if you can’t pay it back, don’t borrow or credit it!’
Consider the amount of maneuvering and stress to make a budget work, so why create more stress in adding unnecessary debt? The hard truth is that this season can be tough and it’s essential to priortise. Unless it’s a majorly important financial issue that can’t be avoided, save the Calvin Kline shoes for when your budget is comfortable enough for them. When faced with a potential ‘debt’, ask yourself two questions:
- Is this necessary for the functioning of my household?
- Do I have the means to pay this back?
Single mothers unconsciously allow ‘mummy guilt’ to dictate their spending
Some single mums are faced with ‘mummy guilt’. Maybe they are trying fill a void left by the departing ex, or buying things to keep their children happy. Although it can be hard to say no to the latest mobile phone or dance classes, there needs to be tough love for the sake of financial sanity. Children need to learn, understand and practice the importance of financial priorities and budgeting. If your child is age appropriate, consider paying pocket money in exchange for chores or if old enough to seek employment, help your older children find a job to fund the things they want.
And here are some monetary terms you may be familiar with, just to amuse:
Nillionare (adj.): The act of someone having little or no money.
Moth Wallet Syndrome (noun): The act of raising moths in a wallet because there never seems to be any money in there.
Pay Day Ghosting (noun): Your pay magically disappears on expenses between on-line banking logins…. Now you see it, now you don’t.
Budget Famine (noun): The budget available for groceries after the bills have been paid.