10 financial tips for single moms

Single moms are often faced with double the work, stress, tears and financial difficulties. This checklist will help you navigate through financial storms.

One in two moms are single, and of these, only 12% of dads are regular contributors to their children’s financial wellbeing, according to statistics from the 2016 Old Mutual Savings and Investment Monitor, which involved more than 1 000 urban professionals.

John Manyike, head of Financial Education at Old Mutual, says single parenting is a growing reality worldwide. “Our study revealed that not only is every second mom single, but that there is a 33% probability that she is also supporting one, or both, of her parents. Furthermore, the survey showed that the poorer the household in terms of income, the higher the likelihood of single motherhood.”

ALSO SEE: Advice and inspiration for single parents

Unfortunately, life for single moms is often difficult. “Especially during the current tough and uncertain economy, the word difficult becomes an understatement. However, this is the time where planning is crucial. Making sure you are prepared – emotionally, physically and mentally – is key to your peace of mind,” says John.

“It is essential to start at the beginning and think about every milestone that will present itself in your child’s life. This includes school fees, uniforms, stationery, extra-mural activities, extra lessons, daycare, matric dance, university tuition and the list goes on. Without becoming overwhelmed, set a reasonable plan in place and assign an estimated budget to cover these expenses that you will need to save toward.  By doing this, the challenge of being a single mom and being financially stable becomes more achievable.”

Although raising a child as a single parent has its challenges, Old Mutual Financial Education has a few tips to assist single moms:

  1. Once your pregnancy is confirmed, start putting money away into a savings account. Take into account your potential medical expenses, as some medical aids don’t provide 100% maternal benefits. You can start with as little as R200 per month – the important thing is to start, and to start today.

ALSO SEE: 7 tips to help you budget for a baby

  1. If you have a new family member on the way, consider nappies and baby gear, a caretaker or crèche for when you return to work, nursery school for when your baby is older, and eventually school. Take a step back and consider the potential expenses, and be better prepared for what is to come.
  2. Reduce your debts to limit your financial obligations when you are on maternity leave or speak to your creditors to arrange lesser monthly installments so that you can manage during this period.
  3. Contact a financial adviser and chat about saving for your child’s education. School fees, unfortunately, increase every year and saving long before the time comes will give you peace of mind.
  4. Compile a comprehensive financial plan and live by it. Things happen and circumstances change, but notify your financial adviser of any financial changes. This will ensure that they are incorporated into your financial plan and allowances are made where necessary. More importantly, stay committed to it – no matter what happens!
  5. We all want the best education for our children and our first choice in schools can be far from home. Prepare yourself for rising transport costs and school fees. You may want to look for schools closer to you or move closer to the school to reduce transportation costs.
  6. Keep saving. Be committed to your long-term goals, such as a university degree for your child. Many government schools offer school fee exemptions to parents who can’t afford to pay their full school fees monthly. Speak to your school principal and make use of this service to ease your burden a little.
  7. Don’t put yourself under pressure to “keep up with the Kardashians, the Khumalos, or the Karims”. Dress your children according to what you can afford and don’t open clothing store accounts if you can’t afford to pay the total monthly fee. If you can’t buy it cash, then you shouldn’t buy it at all.
  8. Prioritise! Shop at cheaper stores, change to cheaper brands, compare prices, pull back on holidays, entertainment and other luxuries. This is the time to go with what you need not what you want.

ALSO SEE: Grocery shopping saving tips to fit your budget

  1. Learn to say no. Children can push you into buying things because they want to keep up with their friends or the latest fashion trends. It is much wiser to teach your children about budgeting, pocket money and financial restraints, than to give into their demands for new things. If there is a pair of shoes your child desperately wants, sit down with him and work out a financial plan to save the money. Once the money is saved, and the shoes are bought you can be sure your child will have a much higher appreciation for that item.

“Raising children is already a huge responsibility and challenge, and being a single mom brings another dimension to this. Planning, prioritising and managing your financial situation is the first step to financial well-being, and giving your children the best you can give them,” says John.

For more financial tips, visit Old Mutual’s On the Money mobile site.

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