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Are you a single parent? I don’t care about your reasons or your background story, you don’t need to be ashamed of your situation. It used to be that generations ago being a single parent was taboo, but it’s a growing norm these days.
Did you know there are an estimated 12 million single-parent families with children under the age of 18 in the United States? Here are some other statistics:
- 56% of these single parents have only one child, whereas 30% had two children to care for.
- 69% of single parents are employed – 48% worked full-time.
- 24% of single parents are unemployed.
- Single mothers’ average salary is about $25,493 a year.
- Single fathers’ average salary is about $36,471 a year.
- 42% of children in single-parent families are poor as compared to 13% of children who came from two-parent families.
I don’t mean to make it look bad or depressing, but being a parent is a struggle in itself never mind if you’re single-parent family or two-parent family. Not to worry, there are plenty of ways to stay afloat financially as a single parent.
I’ve listed 9 different ways:
1. Websites & Apps
As a single parent, you may spend a lot of time running errands, going to appointments, waiting in the car and other free moments.
Use this little time to join several survey and shopping apps. These can make you money as well as save you money. A great bonus is that it only needs one hand holding your phone to do these, so you can do it while tending to your kids.
The websites and apps I suggest are:
- Survey Junkie – One of the best survey sites out there that can make you $5 – $18 per hour.
- Ibotta – Shop online or scan your shopping receipts for easy cash back.
- TopCashBack – Another great shopping and cash back app.
- InboxDollars – Complete surveys, shopping, check out offers, watch videos and more ways to earn here.
- SwagBucks – Many ways to earn on this site for quick earnings.
- MyPoints – Great shopping cash back and more ways to earn here.
- Ebates – Shop online and get instant cash back.
2. Have a Side Hustle
If one job isn’t covering everything and yet you don’t have a schedule to accommodate a second job then having a side hustle you can do on your own terms would be suitable. There are so many options to pick that will fit your time and skills out there.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Freelance Work – Check out different freelancing sites for projects that match your talents.
- Teach Online – Teach others about a variety of topics online.
- Run Errands – Earn money running errands for others.
- Babysitting – Earn money watching other people’s kids while watching your own.
- Drive – Work for Uber, Lyft, or other ways with your car.
- And More
There is something out there that’s suitable for you and makes extra money.
3. Apply for Unemployment
If you’re one of the unlucky 24% that don’t have a job, you should apply for unemployment insurance if you had previously worked.
But there are some requirements to meet before you’re approved such as losing the previous job through no fault of your own, meeting state requirements on how long the previous job was, and you must be currently seeking work.
The length of time and the amount you can receive vary by state – Alabama gives about $45 to $265 a week, California gives about $40 to $450 a week, and New York gives $100 to $430 a week.
4. Apply for Family Assistance
If you’re within a certain income bracket and you’re struggling, there is money available to help you with a variety of needs.
A few of these are:
- Social Security and Disability – We all think Social Security is for retirement, but you can also receive Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance when you are still of working age and cannot earn a regular wage.
- Food Assistance – Many states offer 3 kinds of food assistance, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or food stamps, Women, Infant and Children (WIC), and the National School Lunch Program.
- Child Care Assistance – Offer income-based financial assistance to pay for your childcare bills so more of your income can be used for other essential monthly expenses.
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) – For families experiencing financial hardships, you may receive food, child care, housing assistance, and much more.
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance – Will provide the necessary funds to ensure you stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
Amounts you can receive again vary by state, so let’s look at the 3 states I mentioned earlier again. The amounts you can possibly receive for SNAP and TANF are:
- Alabama – SNAP: $394 a month, TANF: $215 a month
- California – SNAP: $376, TANF: $714 a month
- New York – SNAP: $383, TANF: $789 a month
5. Rent Your Baby Stuff Out
Did you know you can rent out your old baby stuff like outgrown car seats, cribs, strollers, playpens and such? Make money by becoming an independent partner with Babierge and get 80% of all rentals and 100% of delivery fees.
You do need to pay insurance fees and any credit card processing fees. Your earnings depend on the demand in your area. So, if you live in a large tourist city with many travelers, you could make a good, steady income.
6. Create Plans
You may wonder how making plans is going to save you financially? It will save you a lot!
First, let’s look at the kinds of plans I mean:
- Budgeting Plan – Planning where every dollar you have will go as well as tracking all your spending will help with you finances. You’ll see on paper (or on screen) where you can cut back, save more, or plan for.
- Routine Plan – Knowing ahead of time what you will be doing and expecting any circumstances that may happen prevents last minute babysitting fees, last minute eating out costs and other expenses that are more expensive at the last minute.
- Future Plans – Even though you may be struggling now, you still need to plan for the future especially for kids’ colleges and your retirement.
- A Will – Having a Will is so important to ensure the security of your child or children and their future expenses.
Therefore, planning ahead for any circumstance can really help you out financially.
7. Have a Support Network
Build a support network of family, friends, other single parents, your children’s friends’ parents, and so on.
Having a support network not only helps you physically and emotionally but can help you financially as well. I don’t mean using them as a bank account, but more of a co-op system. You and your network can trade cooked meals, errands, babysitting, outgrown kid’s clothes and an assortment of other needs.
Think how much money you and a friend can save by not hiring a babysitter? A babysitter charges about $13 an hour, let’s say you need one for 3 hours to shop and run errands – that’s about $40! Instead, agree on a day and time, one watches all the kids while the other runs errands for the both of them and you both save money.
8. Say No
As a single parent, we know money is tight but we want to make our kids happy. You just may have to put your foot down and say no to many things your kids want.
Some of this need to please your kids may be from the guilt of a divorce, lack of time spent with them and your situation. Sit with them and have a conversation about your situation, how tight things are, plan some goals together and things you will say yes to. Having your kids onboard with your financial plan helps puts things in perspective for them.
Now let’s talk about you – yes you! You also need to learn to say no to things you want too. Did you know that your weekend barhopping costs about $65 or more a night, or about $520 a month? I agree we all need time for ourselves, but I’m going to be blunt here and say that when you have a child it’s no longer about you anymore. Why not opt for having friends over for a bottle of wine and appetizers and chat all night?
Learning to say no keeps more money in your wallet for things you really need.
9. Seek Child Support
Lastly, if you haven’t already, seek child support from the other parent. It took two people to bring your wonderful child into this world, the both of you should contribute to their welfare.
Here’s how to file for child support:
- Pick up the forms you need at your local Probate and Family Court and fill them out. (They can be found online as well).
- File them with the clerk at the Probate and Family Court. When it’s filed you will receive paperwork for a summons. Your local police or sheriff will deliver the summons to the other parent. (Be sure to request a “proof of service” showing the paperwork was delivered).
- Make a copy of all the paperwork for your records and give a copy to the Court clerk and file a “return of service”.
- Prepare and file the financial papers. Filling out a financial statement which tells the court all your financial income and expenses.
- Show up at the Hearing.
This paperwork does incur fees depending on what kind of complaint you filed. But the costs for the steps above are $5 for filing the summons and about $35 to $40 for the police or sheriff to deliver it. But if you’re on welfare or are in a low-income bracket, these fees can be waived.
There are all kinds of scenarios and excuses for not receiving support, let’s look at a few and I’ll give you some resolutions as well:
- I don’t know where the other parent is? – Ask your State’s Department of Finance to file a child support order for you. They’ll find them through employment and tax records.
- I’m not the father, or the father denies paternity? – Request a paternity test from the court. The court will decide who needs to pay for the testing. A legal DNA paternity test typically costs between $300 to $500).
- What if the other parent refuses? – Simply file a motion of contempt with the court. (Unpaid amounts over $10,000 or unpaid for over 2 years is actually a felony).
- What if the amount is too little? – The court uses a Child Support guideline to determine cost of living and expenses. Otherwise, you need to file a motion to modify child support order.
I hope this helps with getting the child support you need for your children.
Being a single parent is one of the toughest jobs to do, but it can be done happily and stress-free – financially, mentally, and emotionally. Just be sure you have plans, a support system, boundaries and don’t be afraid to ask for help. It is possible to stay afloat as a single parent.
For other ideas to help: