There’s a job out there that makes you work all day, every day with no holidays. It doesn’t pay well, in fact, it doesn’t pay at all. And to make it even harder, you work by yourself.
The role of a single parent is quite possibly the toughest job there is. It’s stressful tackling the world of parenting on your own, and the added weight of balancing the budget can certainly drive up your blood pressure. At Keystart, we help a lot of single parents with home ownership, and hopefully the below tips we’ve picked up can take some of that pressure off.
Make a list. Check it twice.
In the world of virtual banking without notes and coins, it’s often hard to understand exactly how much money you have and how much is going out the door. So, make your fixed payments real. Write them down in a list alongside the amount allocated to each. To make it even easier, write them on a small whiteboard and edit them as the numbers change over the weeks. This gives you a clear representation of what has to disappear into the wormhole of bills and what’s left over for the fun stuff… like kids' birthday presents. There are lots of apps and websites out there that can help too, but sometimes good old pen and paper (or whiteboard and marker) work even better.
In what may initially seem like a complete contradiction to the previous tip, this one is focussed solely in the online space. When you plan out your day, grocery shopping can take up a decent portion of it, especially when you need to pack a little one in the car and drive each way. By ordering everything you need via the online stores of your preferred supermarket, you’ll be able to fill the cupboard from the couch. If you see a product that you use often on sale, buy it in bulk. The bill might be a little bit higher this time, but in a few weeks when you’re already stocked up on the kid’s lunch box fillers, you’ll really notice a difference. Studies show that when visiting the grocery store we impulse purchase – by shopping online, you can assess your shopping cart and make sure you are happy with everything that has gone in.
Cheap, easy and healthy.
As your kids get older and develop, their nutritional health is really important. To avoid the lure of take-away meals, the key is in preparation; not for the next meal you plan on cooking, but the next few. A stir-fry can use the left-over vegies from the previous night’s curry which can use the left-over rice from the night before. This not only saves you money, but also saves you time.
Be careful to not over complicate it. Good food doesn’t need to take a long time; people like Jamie Oliver have made a career out of simplifying the evening cook while working on a budget!
Try a few of these sites for size:
Second hand style.
In case you haven’t heard, shopping second hand is on trend right now. Not only can you and your kids set the bar for style by picking up clothes from second hand shops, you’ll save a 1990’s bum bag full of money. As your kids grow and their sizes change, your finances won’t feel the same pinch as before. If you spend a bit of time in the racks, you’ll be amazed at what you can find!
Sunday mornings at Karrinyup are a great place to start, but make sure you get in early! The early morning stampede are rewarded for getting up with the sparrows and usually get the best of the bargains.
There are a number of areas around Perth well known for high density of Vinnies and Salvos stores. If you don’t find what you are looking for at one, the others are sure to fill in the gaps. Try Old Perth Road in Bassendean, William Street in Northbridge or Albany Highway in Vic Park to start with. Who knows what you might find!
Save for tomorrow.
As you know all too well, being a single parent is no walk in the park. But it’s important to take the time to enjoy the precious moments you share with your kids. If you can put a small amount away into a savings account, separate from your emergency savings, you’ll soon find that every little bit adds up. Use this money for a weekend getaway with the kids, or a movie night at the next big film. If you have the option, maybe take time for yourself and recharge your batteries however you see fit. Amongst the stress and chaos, there’s always a way to find something special.
By far our biggest piece of advice however, is if times get tough or your situation changes, let us know. Communication is key, and we will always do our best to help you through a rocky period. There are often options available to you that you weren’t aware of, all you have to do is ask.