Being a single mom most times does not afford the luxury of having additional funds, that’s a heavy burden when everything is solely depended on you. Single mothers carry the responsibility of taking care of the household, paying bills, grocery and clothes for the kids, and just MAYBE trying to save if anything is left. Child Support, Alimony or Government Assistance is not something every single parent receives to help, so it can be hard to be prepared for emergencies and save for a rainy day.
If you don’t have an emergency fund for unplanned events, you’ll most likely have to borrow the money or take money from a responsibility you already have. You know what that means? That means you’ll end up in more debt! Building an Emergency Fund will help you from incurring more debt but also create foundation of financially stability.
No two people have the same financial situations so your strategy to build an emergency fund should be catered to just your life. Most say an emergency fund should be the equivalent of 3-6 months’ worth of living expenses in cash or liquid assets; that consists of paying for housing, food and necessities at least. Or a better way to decide how much to store in cash is to think about how much of a cushion you would need if you lost employment for a few months.
To start saving, you must know where your money is going. So your first step is to create a budget or write down all of your income and all of your expenses for a month. Having those numbers in front of you will show you exactly where your money is going and the areas that you are spending too much money in. Know your monthly expenses will allow you to calculate your monthly take home pay. If your expenses are more than your income, your priority needs to be getting the two in line. You need to either cut your expenses, earn more money, or do both.
The most difficult thing at times is starting. You’re saying, “But I don’t have it.” I’m saying, “Have you tried?” Just start. Don’t overthink it. Just start small and do it. Even if you start with $10-25 every month or every time you are paid, guess what? If you are diligent, it can add up. Looking at a huge number of thinking you need a $1,000 saved up is scary and seems farfetched. But if you change your perspective and break down the savings goal to monthly seeking smaller amounts, it will become easier and less scary to start.
Save loose change
An easy way to save without much thought is to save loose change. Ask the family to collectively contribute any loose change from their pockets daily. To speed up the savings, include loose one and five dollar bills. Doing this daily will add up but should be your only source of saving.
Planning is a key component to saving money. Planning your day, meals, events, trips, etc. can all become cost effective measures that can potentially save you some money vs spending more money. This can cut down on gas expenses from unnecessary errands and trips, to planning your lunch for work and not eating out wasting money on food. Planning your meals ahead of time allows you to better plan your grocery list, which will also allow you to not waste funds on unnecessary items in the store.
Unplanned events are almost guaranteed to happen when least expected. So having a cash cushion accessible in case of emergencies is important. This may cause for a little sacrifice but it will prepare you for some unforeseen occasions that can cause additional financial strain. Being a single parent sometimes means it’s all on you. So why don’t you go ahead and be prepared.
Cicely Jones is the owner of MPA Financials, a Full Service Accounting Firm with 15 years’ experience. Cicely has a passion to spread knowledge of financial empowerment by educating clients and giving sound financial advice.
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