Tips for a single mom: How to budget and save your money

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Being a single mom is tough - you have to look after your child's well-being, your career and finances, all the while trying to stay sane. Read this for financial tips.

Staying on budget

single mom

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“The trick to budgeting is to put the bills first―after savings―after all, you can’t spend what you really don’t have. Like I said when I started planning things―my budget, savings, all of it went to an excel file that I could check at any given time. That was 30% on bills, 40% on our basic needs, and 15% savings. The rest went to investments.”

She says the program was the most reliable at the time, seeing as smartphones and finance-tracking apps weren’t in vogue yet. Being able to see where she was putting her money also allowed her to be more focused at everything she was doing.

“It’s all about knowing what you want to do, really, and factoring in that you’ve got a life other than your own to care for.”

Being able to stay on budget isn’t easy, especially when transitioning from having to take care of only yourself to also taking care of a child. A lot of luxuries go out the window, or get cut to lesser things.

“My idea of a nice weekend became being able to relax and watch cartoons with my daughter, as opposed to going out to have drinks with friends,” shares Nica, who also posits that a social life is still possible on a budget, albeit maybe on a lesser scale. She was lucky enough to have a support system. “My family was there for me all the time. They helped me―not in the monetary sense, not always―but they were there for us, and that was what mattered.”

Having a strong support system also helps when it comes to living on a particular budget. As a child grows, she said, they’ll have questions and wants and needs that may not fit into the budget. “When she was older, I began to explain that we couldn’t always get her the toys or the things that she wanted immediately. It helps when you talk to them about these things.”

She went on to express that it never hurts to start a child’s financial education early. Nica says she would eventually set aside a small amount in the budget for minor things that her daughter would like to have, like crayons or a certain small toy. Budgeting gets easier as the kids get older, it really is when they’re babies that it’s a little difficult, she says. “Between immunizations and diapers and food, it was tough, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

single mom

Image for illustration purposes only.

Her final piece of advice to single parents is to have a contingency plan. “The future can be uncertain. I talked to my family about what we’d do in case I pass away prematurely.”

She said that making plans like that is a difficult conversation to have, but one that needs to be had. Remember always that it’s your child’s future that you need to plan for, the one thing that you always need to have in mind as you do what you do.

“The life you bring into the world is a gift. As much as you teach them, you also learn from them. While I may have already known to budget and save, it is a very different thing when I was doing it for me, and when I was doing it for her. I suppose that’s the most important thing to remember: ‘I’m doing this for her.’”

This article was written for The Asian Parent by MoneyMax, the Philippines’ leading comparison portal for insurance, loans, and other financial products. Learn more at MoneyMax.ph.

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