Budgeting for Single Parents; Developing a Strategy

As a single parent, budgeting is an important financial issue faced on a daily basis. For many single parents, budgeting food, utilities, medical needs and the basic necessity of the children is a crucial challenge often leaving the single parent exhausted and feeling helpless.

In addition to budgeting, single parents usually find the challenge of saving money virtually impossible.

In an effort to streamline the budgeting goals of parents, the following is a recommended step by step process to ensure timely payment of utilities, house payments, food expenses while still leaving a consistent level of funds for spending.

1. Establish a weekly meal plan and budget an allowance for all meals. Be mindful of cost associated with meals and be willing to save leftovers appropriately.

2. Utilizing a clean sheet of paper, list all standard household expenses including house payments, utilities, cellular service, cable services, car expenses, credit cards and insurance related expenses. Add in the monthly budget for food and meals and an amount considered feasible for savings. When beginning with a new savings program, start with low denominations such as $10 per week. Total the monthly expenses together and then divide by four to reach an average weekly “bill” expense.

Add the total amount of net income received over a four week period and then divide by four to reach a net “income” amount per week.

Subtract the total “bill” expenses for the month from the total net “income” for the month and then divide this figure by four. This figure represents the extra amount, used for spending on activities, per week.

On the same sheet of paper, create four columns representing the four Fridays of each week in a month. At the top of each column, write the amount of total net “income” each week. Within each column, write the weekly amount used for spending. Then, within each column, begin listing bills until all bills are accounted for and the total of all bills equals the total listed at the top of the column.

You’ve just created a budget. By sticking to this program, you can be assured all bills are paid timely, some money is put away for savings and, as a single parent, you are provided a consistent level of spending money per week. In fact, by following this plan, on a four week budgeting basis, you will have two extra weekly checks each year. One to use for Christmas expenses and one to save for a rainy day.

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