Budgeting and the Single Parent

Melanee Woodard, 
Senior Marketing Associate of Industrial Bank | 10/9/2013, 2 p.m.
Many parents strive to provide their children with things they themselves did not have growing up, and for a single ...
Melanee Woodard, 
Senior Marketing Associate of Industrial Bank

Many parents strive to provide their children with things they themselves did not have growing up, and for a single parent with one income this could be extra challenging. Sometimes, to the detriment of their financial situation, a parent will do whatever he or she needs to do (including going into debt) to provide those “things”; that new toy, pair of tennis shoes, expensive birthday parties etc. Before they know it, they are depending on various types of credit, or even retirement funds to acquire these “things”. It is not until thousands of dollars later, they find themselves deep in debt, on the brink of financial ruin. It doesn’t matter if you are a one or two income household the results are the same if you are not using sound financial principles.

When making purchases it is important to determine the difference between a want vs. a need. Asking the question, “Why do I need this” before making a purchase will bring insight as to whether or not making the purchase is an appropriate decision. It takes self-reflection and accountability to change life patterns. A single parent may hear, or read about how to live on a budget and think the speaker doesn’t know what it feels like to raise a child with one income, or that the speaker has plenty of money. While a speaker may not have children, in many cases a person has experienced the worst in a situation before they have experienced the best – including being financially successful.

As a single parent, we often delay, or sacrifice our dreams. Having your own dreams and goals in addition to the dreams you have for your children is vital to your personal and financial success. It also helps to maintain a life balance. Pursuing your dreams gives you something to strive for and most dreams require money. A lack of money and having lots of debt can be a hindrance to accomplishing your goals. Though you don’t need money to get started with researching and developing your plan for success, you will need money to buy goods and services relevant to your dreams.

Following a budget is extremely important, even if it shows you don’t have enough money at the end of the month. It may not feel like it, but this process can be the start to a prosperous future. It doesn’t matter if you only have one income, as long as you can learn to work within that budget. Whatever your current financial situation, it’s never too late to develop sound financial principles. If you wish to achieve financial freedom, it is imperative that you obtain and act upon as much financial knowledge as possible. Equally important, share that knowledge with your children.

Here are a few money tips and resources. Keep in mind, information and knowledge are great, but without action they have no value!

STOP! Before making your next purchase, take your bank statement and bills from the previous month and create your budget.

START! Living within your budget. Habits take time to break as well as adopt. Research money management topics and find what works for you. For example, using envelopes labeled with certain categories i.e. food, gas, dry cleaner, etc. can be helpful. Put only what you have budgeted for each category in its respective envelope. If you find you have spent it all before the month ends, reevaluate the amounts you have allocated to each category and consider what you spent and why. Remember, choose what works for YOU – that’s the best way to gain discipline in any particular area.

FOCUS! Stay focused on your long-term goal of being financially free and living your dreams. Always ask, “Will this purchase delay my goals and dreams?”

TEACH! Teach your children what you have learned about financial education. You can grow together.


The Difference – How Anyone can prosper in even the toughest times – Jean Chatzky

The Difference – Wealth Building Journal, Jean Chatzky

How to Raise a Family on Less Than Two incomes – The complete Guide to Managing Your Money Better so You Can Spend More Time with Your Kids – Denise Topolnicki