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How to create a single-parent budget

Finance & Money

Posted on Friday, August 2, 2019

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As a single parent, you will have discovered that it’s important to keep a tight rein on your finances at all times. When there is no backup and you have the responsibility of raising your children alone, it’s even more important to keep a close eye on your expenses, prioritise and trim down where you can, yet still create a fun, loving environment for your children.

Here are a few tips to help you create a single-parent budget that covers all your needs:

1. Be honest about what you need and what you can afford

As a single parent, your priorities are different: you need to feed and clothe your family, and provide shelter for them on a single income. In order to create a successful budget in these circumstances, you need to be realistic.

Before you sit down to draw up your budget, take you and your children’s lifestyle into account. While you may not be able to afford everything you and your children want, there are many ways to have fun within your budget – organise play dates with friends, go to the park or for a bike ride, and keep an eye out for cheap deals that come around during school holidays. You can still enjoy your time together without it costing more than you can afford.

2. Stick to a simple budget planner

Don’t overcomplicate things and put too much pressure on yourself with a budget that takes up too much time and effort to stick to and update. Simply work out what money you’re bringing in and what your fixed expenses are.

If you are receiving maintenance from your partner, allocate it to the children’s necessary expenses first, then work out what you have left over for everything else. Add additional spending categories in order of importance so you are not left with any surprises that you haven’t budgeted for.

3. Use cash over cards

It’s easy to swipe your card whenever you need to spend money, but research shows it’s harder to part with cash. If you draw out the money you need for groceries and entertainment and place it in labelled envelopes, you will have an eye on how fast you are spending and how much you have left until payday.


Just start with a few categories that you are comfortable using cash for and see how the money is distributed. It will give you a clear indication of whether you are spending too fast or too much to make it to the end of the month.

4. List debt in order of urgency

From ‘If I don’t pay this I’ll lose my house’ debt to ‘I should pay this before the end of the year’ debt: make a list in order of urgency and budget accordingly. Pay off the most pressing ones first and allocate what you can to the others.

The information contained in this article is for information purposes only and does not constitute professional advice.

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