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All too often, single parents feel the strain of financial difficulty in ways that two-parent households don’t understand. With one less income earner in the home, providing for your children – and yourself – can be an immense challenge. If making ends meet is difficult, then saving money for future expenses is even more difficult.
Given that most families don’t have a cash reserve on-hand to deal with emergencies and unexpected situations, it’s obvious that saving money is easier said than done. Single parents struggle with the lack of financial support they often experience from not having a second income earner in the home.
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Nevertheless, there are methods for budgeting for future expenses and emergencies. If you are seeking to build a rainy day fund or saving for a future vacation, taking advantage of these situations is crucial. Whether it’s borrowing from payday lender
s direct or employing a series of life hacks in day-to-day living, let’s look at how single-parent families can prepare for the future.
Construct a Concrete Plan
First and foremost, any single-parent household needs to examine their existing finances in detail. While most moms and dads are familiar with their monthly expenses, relatively few take the time to jot down each line item and expense in one place. By taking an honest account of the current situation, it becomes easier to discover just how much extra income potentially exists each week or month.
What are some common elements you’ll want to consider in any long-term plan for budgeting expenses?
- Accommodations and utilities. Above all else, these expenses are generally the largest segment of any single-family household budget. Factoring in the costs of rent or mortgage – along with power, water, cable, internet, and telephone – can easily be the biggest and most unavoidable hurdle for any family.
- Food. Another unavoidable reality, food is an absolute necessity that cannot be overlooked in budgeting for future major expenses like vacations. Most families can find ways to conserve money in this area, however. Whether it be buying raw ingredients in bulk and cooking meals at home or skipping the occasional take-out or restaurant experience, many single-parent families find they can save $100 or more per month from this category.
- Transportation. Another major cost consideration for many families, the costs associated with transportation are often unavoidable as well. Many fail to consider just how expensive the true cost of transportation is in a given month; there are car payments, car insurance costs, gas, and the gradual wear and tear on vehicles to consider. It is especially important to consider long-term vehicle costs, as saving for sudden and major car-related expenses can help you avoid one of the most common and disruptive expenses any family can face.
- Entertainment. Of all the major budgetary categories for any single-parent family, entertainment is easily the one where the greatest number of adjustments can be made. Everything from movie nights and media subscriptions to high-end meals can be counted in this category in one way or another. For families struggling to save for major future expenses like vacations, it is recommended that this category of spending be cut back entirely if possible.
Ultimately, budget advisers recommend scouring through each recurring expenditure – as well as categories that are consistent, such as entertainment costs – to identify the least-needed expenditures. Single-parent families should set a goal of cutting their current monthly spending by 10 percent, with this sum being set aside for those future major expenses.
Setting aside money for future expenses can be challenging for single-parent households, even if the financial ability to do so exists. Given all the minor unexpected temptations and mishaps in day-to-day life, an extra $10 or $20 per week can vanish in the blink of an eye. As such, enlisting the services of small-scale lenders to help you pay for unexpected expenses immediately can be a good idea under select circumstances.
One such example is by borrowing from payday lenders direct. These lenders often can be found directly, with no brokers or middlemen involved that add extra charges to the amount borrowed. Payday lenders specialize in providing single moms and dads with smaller loans, usually in the vicinity of $100 to $500 (though many offer loans
of up to $2000, depending on individual income).
Not only are payday lenders with no brokers or added fees able to help single-parent households get out of sudden and financially challenging situations, but they can also assist families in establishing a nest-egg. Whether that be to start an emergency fund for future major expenses or to fund the beginnings of a vacation plan, using these services to secure funds up-front – followed by reasonable weekly payments – can increase the chances that the extra few bucks each week you’re able to save actually go toward funding major expenses, rather than being spent on smaller or more impulsive spending habits.
Evaluate Your Tax Status
Most people receive tax refunds once per year, which is a much-needed benefit for many single-parent households facing major expenses. That lump sum of income can make it easier to handle bigger expenses that you’ve been putting off for some time, whether it be medical bills, credit card debt or a family vacation. However, some in the position of barely making ends meet opt for a different outcome.
Individuals are able to change their tax filing status via their employers at any time. Generally speaking, there are a few filing statuses to consider:
- Married (whether filing jointly or separately)
- Head of household
Some individuals are not filing as head of household despite being the sole breadwinner in the home: this is definitely a major element you’ll want to verify if you’re unsure, as it can save you a lot in taxes each year.
However, an increasing number of single-parent households are opting to modify the number of dependents they claim on their taxes throughout the year. Generally speaking, claiming 0, 1 or even 2 dependents as a single-parent household means you will receive a sizable tax return each year. However, this also means that a portion of your earnings from each paycheck is being withheld.
By strategically increasing the number of dependents throughout some or all of the year, you can recoup extra cash each week or month on your paycheck. Obviously, this will reduce or eliminate your tax refund at the beginning of each year (and can even leave you owing money if you claim too many dependents), but that extra bit of income each week can help single parents save more money for future major expenses.
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Get Rid of Your Clutter
Most homes have an excess of used goods, items or accessories that families don’t need. It’s smart to hold onto various items in the event they may be needed in the future, but most items stored in family closets and garages are not necessarily providing true benefit. This is where single parents have a real opportunity to earn some extra income and prepare for future expenditures.
Traditionally, many people would simply have yard sales. Having a local yard sale makes the logistics of your selling experience easy: you don’t have to lug vast amounts of goods to another location and can easily set up and take down your storefront from the convenience of home. This strategy works especially well when collaborating with neighbors, forming a neighborhood yard sale that can attract even more shoppers across one or more days.
If generating enough foot traffic is a concern or you cannot host a yard sale outside your home, then flea markets are the next best thing. While you will need a way to transport all of the goods you wish to sell, you’ll be guaranteed a large number of shoppers passing by your table. Most flea markets charge a few dollars for a table or space, but if you have a sufficient number of in-demand items, you’ll easily recoup that – and then some.
Lastly, if you don’t have a ton of items for sale, your items are higher-end in nature or you just don’t have time, individual online listings for select items are another great consideration. Through platforms such as Facebook Marketplace, sellers and buyers are easily connected based on their locations. You can even arrange for the buyer to come to you, eliminating any legwork in transporting the items you wish to sell.
With so many options available to single parents, selling your unwanted or unused items is easier than ever. Whether done so outside your home, at a flea market or through virtual means, it is not unreasonable to expect that a few hundred dollars can be generated through this strategy alone.
The key to budgeting for major future expenses is to plan ahead, expect likely derailments and find new opportunities both to increase revenue and reduce spending. By knowing that regular forms of maintenance such as car repairs will inevitably be needed, families can prepare in advance financially. By curtailing unnecessary expenditures on entertainment and even borrowing small sums via payday lenders
with no brokers or intermediaries, moms and dads can begin building a reliable nest egg for both needed expenses as well as that desired vacation with the family.
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