Being a financial adviser for two decades, I’ve talked with many single mothers who are often looking for financial solutions to help them stretch their dollars as far as possible. Let’s face it: Being a single parent is incredibly stressful, but being a single mom in particular is even more so.
Many mothers long to care for their children first and foremost while making a little money on the side. But single mothers don’t have that luxury — it’s all on them. And because they have to be the main breadwinner for their families, they find that they often have a lot less time and energy to devote to their children.
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There’s already a sizable wage gap between men and women, according to the United States Census Bureau. This only makes the financial pressure for single moms even worse.
Single mothers find themselves doing the same jobs as single fathers but not making as much money.
So what can single moms do to ease their financial burdens? We’ll get into some financial solutions for single-mother households in this article, but first, let’s take a look at some facts and figures.
Incorrect Assumptions About Being a Single Mom
Many people assume that single moms simply “decide” to raise their kids alone, don’t have a job, and depend on government assistance. However, these assumptions simply aren’t true for most single moms.
We often lump all single moms into specific categories and believe they all fit a similar demographic. But the truth is that single moms come in all shapes and sizes. They all have different stories and backgrounds, yet they often have very similar needs.
A Pew Research study from 2017 shows that about one in four mothers in the United States (9 million women) are single moms. The same study indicates that 30 percent of single moms live in poverty.
Plus, about 75 percent of single mothers work outside the home, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And yet they earn only a fraction of what married couples earn.
Consequences of Being a Single Mom
There are many consequences of being a single mother, but perhaps the biggest struggle is financial. Single-mom families can face major financial instability.
But it’s not just an income problem for single moms — it’s an expense problem, too. They don’t share housing, child care, and living expenses with anyone else. In fact, in 2016, only about 27 percent of single moms received any kind of child support payments to help with the expenses of raising their children, according to the Kids Count Data Center.
Single mothers face hardship that many married couples don’t. Single moms are more likely to go to food pantries, be on welfare, and receive food stamps, and that means more kids are living with less, too. Of course, there are other physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual consequences of being a single mother that cannot be quantified.
But single moms actually have a lot of choices when it comes to their financial situations.
I’ve created a list of some financial solutions for single-mother households that can help them get ahead when it comes to their money.
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Financial Tips for Single Mothers
Single parents may beat themselves up a bit about their past choices that contributed to their current circumstances, but they need to realize that it’s never too late to make different choices to better their financial status and their future.
1. Enlist Assistance
It’s not always easy to ask for help, but if we are honest, everyone needs it at some point in their lives. Everyone! So just suck it up and ask while you dream of being the one to help someone else someday.
Check out Verywell Family‘s great article listing various different sources of assistance for people who need a hand up. These include community organizations; the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); and more. Then swallow your pride and gratefully accept the help to alleviate some of your financial stress.
Remember, it won’t always be this way. It’s not forever. It’s to help you while you’re in a tough spot.
2. Consider Enrolling in School
This may seem like an unattainable idea, but don’t discount it too quickly. While we understand you’re stretched to the max with your time, and you have no extra money to go back to school, there are resources out there that you should know about.
Did you know that there are scholarships specifically for single mothers? The blog Single Moms Income has a list of available scholarships. In addition, you can do your own online search to find even more.
Think about it: These scholarships are going to be given out anyway, so why not to you?
Imagine how obtaining a degree or furthering your education could help you get a better-paying job and improve your cash flow situation. If you dedicate a few months or years to getting a degree, it could seriously affect how you raise your kids, where you live, and even your ability to save for retirement. It would take time and sacrifice, but consider if it would be worth it for you.
3. Financial Resources
You’ve heard the saying “knowledge is power,” right? Sometimes you just need to have the right information, so for a big list of financial solutions for single-mother households, you need to check out this article from Single Moms Income. It gives practical ideas about buying a car or house, paying for childcare, obtaining reasonably priced health care, and much more.
There are also many grants available to single mothers that assist them with needs that range from weatherizing their homes to obtaining affordable childcare and much more.
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Final Financial Tips for Single Mothers
Although single moms travel a tough road, they are not powerless. There are financial solutions for single-mother households that can make a huge difference in not only their lives but also in the lives of their children.
For more practical tips and advice about how to stretch your dollars and improve your peace of mind about your finances, check out my website, Simple Money Tips for Women.