There’s no doubt that being a single parent is tough. Surviving on a single monthly income is especially difficult while juggling kids and running a household.
We all know that parenting is one of the most fulfilling jobs in the world. However, with only one income it can be difficult to support a family and that can be discouraging.
Research published in 2017 indicated that it cost around R90 000 a year to raise a child.
And that was 4 years ago, during pre-pandemic times.
The cost has risen significantly since then… Food alone has increased 5.2% year on year. Housing and utilities increased by 2.6% year on year. That’s a heavy knock for single salary households.
The highest expenses for single parents, and parents in general, includes education, clothing, medical aid and after-school activities, such as gymnastics, action cricket or rugby and ballet.
As a single parent, a salary cut could mean choosing between putting food on the table or paying bills. It often feels as if there is never enough money to cover everything. Living costs will continue to go up. And as a single parent, it can be difficult to stretch your salary further.
We have compiled a list of 6 ways to stretch your money a bit further each month.
1. Create a budget
It is important to keep track of where you spend your money. It is crucial to living within, not only a monthly budget but a daily budget as well. A budget helps keep your spending in check, and debt spiralling out of control.
Keep track of your spending and expenses for a day, a week and a month, to get a realistic picture of what your expenses are. Make sure to plan for a little fun, if you can. Tiny rewards will help you keep to your budget. Build-in buffers and make sure you leave a little extra for emergencies, if possible.
A study found that children as young as three years old can comprehend basic financial concepts. Therefore it is important to teach your children as soon as possible about finances.
Get the kids involved in your budgeting. A nice way to introduce kids to budgeting is by taking them with you to go for your monthly food shopping. Give them each a list of items and a small budget they need to stick to. It’s also a great way to keep the kids entertained while doing your shopping.
Set achievable saving goals for you and your children. Get everyone excited about budgeting for a much-needed vacation or even just a day out.
Open a separate bank account and place a little bit of savings in there as and when you can. With your holiday or day out with the kids in mind, set a realistic date for your savings goal so that both you and your children will feel motivated to keep saving.
Avoid feeling guilty for not being able to provide your children with all they want, as this is unnecessary emotional stress you don’t need to carry.
You can also read this article on how to create a budget and stick to it.
2. How to save on Education and Medical aid
School and medical are important expenses. However, it does take up a major chunk of your salary.
School fees are expensive. Luckily public schools have relief programs available for parents who aren’t able to pay school fees.
You can contact the school and ask for an exemption on payment and offer voluntary contributions such as rendering any kind of service to the school whether it is helping out on sports days or running the tuckshop when there is a school event.
With school going kids it is important to have some form of medical aid or hospital plan. We all know that they are prone to injuries at a young age.
Shop around for a plan that has benefits for both in and out of hospital emergencies. You do not need a comprehensive plan, rather look at the entry-level plans that will still cover your needs.
3. How to save on food
Plan your meals in advance with a strict budget. Buy in bulk where you can and make time to cook in bulk. And don’t waste food.
If you find that wasting food is a regular occurrence in your house, try to cook less, or make leftovers a fun experience in your home.
Repurpose food instead of throwing it away. Rather freeze the leftovers for another night or even a convenient lunch. Kids can be fussy, but if you teach them from a young age to appreciate food and the cost of it, they will learn to appreciate every meal.
Research has shown that the average person throws out 500g of food per person per day. If you can avoid food wastage it will help you lower the cost of your grocery bill significantly.
4. Avoid making unnecessary debt
You want to give your child everything they may want. But as a single parent, you may often feel guilty when you can’t afford the latest gadgets on the market. Most parents will turn to loans or credit cards to provide their children with what they want.
If you are already struggling every month, try to avoid debt as best you can.
Unnecessary purchases on credit could send you down a debt spiral that would place additional stress on you.
If you are using credit to pay for basic living expenses such as food and petrol, it may be a sign that you are in financial distress. Talk to a debt counsellor such as Debt Rescue to see if we may be able to free up income for living expenses by reducing your monthly debt instalments.
5. Consider a second job
In our current economy, it is not easy to find a second job. In fact, for many, it’s not easy finding a job at all. However, consider starting a side hustle if you have any special skills you can use to boost your income. You can start an online job or even sell goods such as beauty products just to get that extra income to add to your savings.
This second job can be done after hours or even on weekends
6. Partner with qualified advisers
If you find that your main concern is your debt, and you have no funds available for your expenses or even to save a little, it might be time to take action for yourself and your children’s financial wellbeing.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional such as a debt counsellor to help you bring down your monthly debt repayments. Your debt counsellor will negotiate with your creditors to make more money available for your month-to-month expenses by reducing your current monthly instalments.
Debt Rescue has provided debt relief to more than 30 000 South Africans and is ranked as the #1 debt counsellor in SA.
If you need immediate financial relief and would like to get your finances back on track, leave your contact information below and one of our consultants will gladly contact you.