Life is always that little bit harder for single parents. The day never has enough hours if you have to work two jobs to make ends meet, take your kids to school and pick them up again, cook, do the dishes, clean up as well as spending some quality time with your children. The financial side of things in particular can turn into a problem. Since there is an obvious limit to how much you can earn, especially if you’re all but forced to accept a part-time position, saving costs has turned into a painful, but necessary obsession for many single parents. Thankfully, however, help is available and can get you back on track and enjoying life to the full again.
Explain your situation
The first thing you should do is to explain your situation to your kids. It is a fallacy to believe they don’t know what’s going on, so better tell them up straight and make them understand the reasons why you may not be able to spend as much time with them as they’d like and why you won’t be able to afford as much extras and expensive clothes as their classmates’ parents. This will help you forge a stronger bond with your children, make them feel part of the solution and even allow them to contribute.
Do some reading
There are literally thousands and thousands of pages of accumulated wisdom on single parents and solutions to their problems. Needless to say, you won’t be able to read them all, but you should at least make sure to browse some of the well-known classics and use them for inspiration and concrete help. Not only can it be a great psychological support to know that you’re not the only one facing these issues. It can also make you see things from a different perspective and make you aware of new approaches to dealing with your problems.
Reading about possible help is great, but actually being helped is even better. There are myriads of help- and support groups for single parents in the UK and a lot of them are doing a great job at bringing people in the same boat together and allowing them to team up. After all, no one will be able to understand the particularities of your situation as well as other single parents. As a result, you may finally be able to find someone to babysit your children or to pick them up from school if, for some reason, you can not make it. It is small things like these which can make life a lot more agreeable.
Make sure you’re getting all the benefits you’re entitled to
Many single parents are rightfully complaining about the financial burden they have to carry. On the other hand, far too few of them are actually aware that they are entitled to a string of benefits, which can make that decisive difference between slipping into the red at the end of the month or staying within the black. At direct.gov.uk there’s a long list of options, all of which can significantly contribute to your available income. Make sure not to miss out on them.
Apply for a guaranteed account
As a single parent, too much debt can be lethal for your finances. This is why avoiding debts and the interest payments associated with them should be a top priority for you. A guaranteed account, sometimes also called eccount, can play a significant role in this regard. Guaranteed accounts, like eccount.com, are usually more convenient than traditional bank accounts and offer all of the fundamental banking facilities save one: The possibility to go into overdrafts. This is a significant advantage, as it avoids expensive overdraft fees. In combination with a guaranteed account’s inbuilt budgeting support facilities, you’ll be able to remain in the black, save some money for emergencies and slowly but surely carve out a better financial future for yourself.
Life may always be a little bit harder for single parents. But by taking note of these suggestions, you can definitely make it a lot easier for yourself.
By William Masters, a finance editor based in London, UK. Masters is a regular contributor to financial print- and online-magazines, dealing with guaranteed bank accounts, credit card debt and the electronic banking revolution.