7 Practical Money Strategies for Single Parents
Published: October 2, 2018 | Updated: July 23, 2021 | Posted by: Venus Zoleta | Personal Finance
It’s devastating to be left all alone to raise a family. Playing both the roles of a mother and a father puts a lot of pressure to single parents that it’s easy to feel helpless, especially when it comes to money.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Here’s a story to inspire you: Once upon a time, there was a struggling single mother who lived off government assistance. At one point, her depression pushed her to consider suicide. But she went on to pursue her passion for writing. Now, everyone knows her as J.K. Rowling, the richest author in the world and the brilliant mind behind the Harry Potter series.
While not all solo parents become millionaires, know that you can be in control of your money even if you’re providing for your family on your own. Start off with these actionable money management tips and tricks for single parents.
Table of Contents
- 1. Track and Adjust Your Budget
- 2. Build Your Emergency Fund
- 3. Avail of Solo Parent Benefits
- 4. Teach Your Kids Financial Responsibility
- 5. Have an Estate Plan
- 6. Declare Your Kids as Dependents
- 7. Join a Support Group for Single Parents
- Final Thoughts
1. Track and Adjust Your Budget
This is one of the first things you need to do if you recently became a solo parent. Working off a single income, you’re now stretching your budget even thinner, especially if your estranged partner can’t financially support your child.
It sounds scary at first, but handling household finances on your own will be manageable if you begin with monitoring and making necessary adjustments to your budget and lifestyle.
Here are the must-do budgeting specifics to adjust to your new life as a single mom or dad:
- Compute your new total monthly household income and expenses, including rent, food, child care costs, and utilities.
- Make saving your priority. You can’t save if your monthly expenses are always equal to or higher than your monthly income. Find ways to cut household costs and increase income. You may also need to downsize your lifestyle because of your reduced household income.
- Set up an auto-debit arrangement for your recurring expenses like credit card bills and utilities. This way, you avoid paying more in interest and late fees.
- Keep tracking and adjusting your budget. Using a spreadsheet like Excel or budgeting apps helps you know where your money goes and keep your spending under control.
2. Build Your Emergency Fund
Emergencies can happen to anyone. Their financial impact on single parents is much greater. Do you have enough money stashed for when your baby suddenly gets sick and hospitalized? You can run to your parents and siblings for help, but you can’t always rely on them to hand you cash immediately.
An emergency fund serves as your safety net for unexpected and critical expenses. Save six months’ worth of your living expenses and put in a savings account that’s separate from your payroll account. This prevents the temptation to withdraw your money for non-emergencies.
3. Avail of Solo Parent Benefits
Solo Parent Benefits Under RA 8972
Know your rights and privileges as a single parent. If your income falls below the poverty threshold, you’re entitled to solo parent benefits under the Solo Parents’ Welfare Act of 2000 (Republic Act 8972). Per NEDA, the current poverty threshold is at PHP 42,000 monthly for a family of five.
Apart from the seven-day parental leave, single parents in the Philippines can avail of livelihood skills training and scholarships from the DepEd, CHED, and TESDA for themselves and their children. This can help boost your skills for starting a business, getting hired, or getting promoted.
The solo parent law also requires the government to provide qualified single parents with medical assistance and flexible payment terms on low-cost housing projects.
To enjoy these solo parent benefits, you need to get a Solo Parent ID first. Read our guide to know how.
Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program
Although not exclusive to single parents, the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps)—the government’s conditional cash transfer program—benefits many solo parents in urban poor communities. This financial, health, and educational assistance can certainly help ease your finances and secure your child’s good future.
Solo Parent Benefits from LGUs
It also helps to know if your local government provides benefits for single parents. Contact or approach your municipal hall or city hall to inquire about solo parent benefits.
In Quezon City, for example, single parents suffering from mental health issues such as depression can avail of counseling and medications for free.
4. Teach Your Kids Financial Responsibility
Managing your finances as a single parent is way easier if your kids have the right attitude towards money and good money habits. Never too early to raise financially smart children!
Here are the different ways you can train your children to live within your means:
Instill the Value of Saving and Hard Work
Children must learn that money is something they need to work hard for. If they want to buy a toy, they need to save up their allowance for it. Develop a saving habit early on by opening a savings account for kids.
Make Them Understand the Difference Between Wants and Needs
Explain that you can’t always buy what they want because you need the money for something more important, like their tuition and school supplies.
Involve the Kids in Reducing Household Expenses
Start with simple things like turning off the faucet when brushing teeth and switching off the lights when leaving the room. Tell them how these money-saving practices can help your family, like having more money for food.
Make Grocery Shopping Fun and Educational
Parents are usually advised against bringing their kids to the supermarket. While this is a good cost-saving strategy, some single parents may not have a nanny or a family member who can look after their kids while they’re away.
If you have no other choice but to bring the kids along, make grocery shopping a fun learning experience for them. You can turn it into a scavenger hunt game, making them find the items on your grocery list. Or turn it into a math quiz by letting them compute the prices of the items in your cart and check if the total price is within your budget.
Set a Good Example
Be mindful of your financial habits. Whether you’re OC about budgeting and saving or recklessly spending on unnecessary stuff, your children will surely pick it up.
5. Have an Estate Plan
Estate planning involves preparing for your children’s future in case you suffer from a permanent disability or pass away prematurely. Make sure to get adequate life insurance coverage or a VUL plan, a life insurance product that doubles as an investment for your children’s college education or your own retirement.
Assigning guardians for your kids is just as important. These are the people you can trust to take care of your children when you can’t because of a serious illness, disability, or death.
6. Declare Your Kids as Dependents
Always declare all your qualified children as dependents when filing or updating your PhilHealth and SSS membership records, insurance plans, and employer-sponsored benefits such as HMO.
This can save you money on medical expenses for your kids. Your dependents may also receive a monthly allowance from the SSS when you avail of your retirement benefit or disability pension.
7. Join a Support Group for Single Parents
As a single parent, you can never get enough help. Reach out to solo parent support groups. Not only do they offer emotional support for your struggles but may also allow an exchange of single-parent tips and tricks on handling money.
-  Tips for a single mom: How to budget and save your money
-  Solo Parents’ Welfare Act of 2000 (Republic Act 8972)
-  Gone Solo: 5 Support Groups and Resources for Solo Parents
Venus is the Head of Content at Moneymax, with 15+ years of experience in digital marketing, corporate communications, PR, and journalism. She invests in stocks, mutual funds, VUL, and Pag-IBIG MP2. Outside of work, she’s crazy about cats and Korean dramas. Follow Venus on LinkedIn.