Being a single parent family is a unique experience that can be challenging in all sorts of ways. Add financial worries into the mix and it can be a recipe for anxiety, as even the most reasonable of us tend to focus on the necessities, treats and experiences we feel unable to give our children. Over time, this can trigger feelings of guilt, shame and exhaustion.
Firstly, it’s important to know that you are not alone. Also, you’re doing the best you can and it is entirely possible to break free of this cycle. To your child, just giving them a loving home is enough.
If you do need a little help making your money go further, however, we have plenty of quick tips. As with many things in life, it’s all about being resourceful!
Let’s start with the basics. Make sure that you understand the financial support and benefits available to you and your family as a single parent. This might be a council tax or electricity discount, childcare support or money to help you with the cost of living.
Budgeting is also a fundamental basic. It’s a good idea to work out a realistic budget and make sure you stick to it like glue. Perhaps you could download an app that helps categorise your spending and lets you know how much you have leftover for certain things, such as supermarket spending and treats.
Remember – it’s a wise idea to always have a little pot of money put aside as an emergency fund if you can afford to. That way, you can rest assured that if you encounter an unexpected cost then you have a bit of a financial safety net to fall back on. As a single parent especially, there’s not often another income for you to rely on if things go wrong. Your priority, however, should always be to stay on top of any bills to avoid a negative impact on your credit score. Yes, a bit boring – but definitely essential!
When budgeting, think about what makes you happy as a family. Is it more important to have some pennies put aside to buy a takeaway coffee each day, or a trip out as a family with a few ice creams on the cards once in a while? If it’s not essential to you, cut it out and spend more on the things you really want.
Remember to be savvy with offers (within reason!) They are literally designed to save you money. If you see something on sale that your child would love but it’s still a few months until their birthday, consider making the most of the discount if you can and stash it away for the future.
And speaking of birthdays and Christmases, these can certainly be the hardest times to budget – especially if you find it hard to resist temptation with your spending. As a parent, you’ll always want to make these times as special as possible. Whilst you of course don’t need money to do this, it’s nice to have some extra pennies to have some fun with. To make an extra effort to save money, consider giving a small, manageable amount of money to a trusted family member each week or month. Out of sight, out of mind. Even if it’s just £3 a week, it will soon add up!
The fun stuff
Did you know that there are plenty of apps out there that make it easy to find and collect unwanted food for next to nothing? It sounds odd, but hear us out.
Take the free app ‘Too Good to Go’, for example. Restaurants, cafes and bakeries list leftover food that would otherwise be thrown away. Users can then browse the map for food near them and pick up a ‘magic bag’ for a fraction of the original retail cost. You do your bit to reduce food waste, and you get to enjoy some quality restaurant food without splashing the cash!
Plus, you might be surprised at how far leftovers in your own home can go. If we’re honest with ourselves, there isn’t much that genuinely needs to go in the bin. Challenge yourself to be a bit more disciplined and get creative with those ‘odds and sods’ bits of food. Plus, you can save any leftover food packaging for an impromptu ‘crafternoon’!
If you fancy yourself as a bit of a treasure hunter and you need some new furniture, gardening equipment, children’s toys or pet supplies, did you know that you can find all kinds of amazing things on the ‘free’ pages on Facebook Marketplace? Car boots and charity shops are also handy places to frequent and always make for a nice family day out. Your kids might not agree, so make it fun and challenge them to see who can get their hands on the best bargain.
And don’t forget, if you would prefer something brand new for your home, garden or children, we offer everything from beds and sofas, to dining sets, washing machines, fridge freezers and more on flexible repayment plans.
If you are a single parent and in need of some extra support, check out Gingerbread, a charity set up to support single parent families. They offer free advice, support and information along with support groups across the country and a forum where you can connect with others in your situation.
For more information about spreading the cost of your home essentials, contact us here at Fair for You. Don’t be without the things you need for you and your family.