According to the latest US Census Bureau report published in December 2011, there are 13.7 million single-parent families in the country that involve 22 million children. The number represents 26% of the children population under 21 in the US today. Since 82.2% of these parents are mothers, they have to face a Herculean task when it comes to money management and paying off debts. Life is far from easy for single mothers who have to earn and manage money single-handedly and also look after children. Of all single-parent family in the US, the majority comprises of single mothers. The reason for writing this article is to help them in better money management by keeping debts under control.
An analysis of the single mothers raising a family reveals that they are more likely to put up in rented accommodation and a large section of them did not have full-time jobs but are employed part-time. Only a tiny percentage of single mothers work full time. When everybody is struggling to manage debts, single mothers too have to struggle with high-cost credit from extensive use of credit cards and other debts. After paying their expenses and bills, the average single parent is left with just a very insignificant amount to use for paying off debts. The pressures are enormous for single parents to raise children alone and bring in enough money that puts them at odds with debt management.
This article contains advice for single parents that should help them to manage debts better. It all begins by knowing the art of managing money and making changes in the approach of raising children with money in mind.
Know where you stand
First, you have to know your current financial status vis-a-vis your income, and what liabilities (debts, bills, and expenses) you have to shoulder. Assess your financial health first by analyzing the elements of income and expenditure in details.
Make a list of bills that you have to pay and can pay as well as the upcoming bills that are likely to become due soon, but you are unable to pay. Get in touch with the companies and request them to set up a payment plan that suits you.
List all debts that you are carrying including, credit card debts, personal loans, car loans, student loans, etc. together with the balances against each and the interest rates that accompany it. That will help to get a clear picture of the debt liability that you have to handle and the information is useful for creating a plan for debt payment.
Pay Off More When You Can Afford It
Paying off more upfront isn’t always an option when you have lots of debts. However, if you do come into some money, it can be worth using the cash to give you some breathing space in the future. Discount and lender points on a mortgage are excellent examples as they let you pay less in interest throughout your deal by increasing your upfront fees. Of course, it’s tough to work out whether you can afford to do it, which is why a points calculator is a handy tool. If you want to know whether you should pay mortgage points, a calculator will reveal all.
Find Out Whether There’s Any Help Out There
You can find relief from many debts. You just have to engage with the right individuals to help lift the weight from your shoulders. Professionals such as a debt settlement attorney can help you to create more appropriate and feasible monthly payments, or settle debts completely. Their services are more than worth the investment for the amount of money that they can save you in the long run.
Get rid of joint debt
Since single parents have to fight the battle alone, they have to make sure that they do not carry any joint debt arising from their estranged partner. Therefore, before creating a plan for debt payment, it is essential to ensure that the debt liability you carry is your own only with nothing coming from what your partner might have borrowed earlier. It means that you must get rid of any joint debt that you find in the list (from credit cards in joint name) so that it becomes clear that everyone pays their own debt only. Make sure that your ex-partner transfers the debt balance on his part into his account leaving you to pay for your part only. Remember that under no circumstances the liability of nonpayment of debt by your ex-partner should come upon you.
Find funds for paying off debts
You can only pay off debts if you can keep aside some money every month on that account. You must have a budget for expenses and liabilities every month to figure out how much money is available for debt payments. Experts in personal finance believe that on an average a person should be able to keep aside at least $250 every month or even more for paying off debts. That means that you have to do some proper budgeting every month to identify the amount that you can set aside for paying debts on time. But, before you budget, set up your financial goals.
Set your financial goals
Financial goal setting for single parents revolves around determining the needs for moving forward. Think about whether you need a full time and better job that brings in more money and whether you would like to file for child support. You might explore the option of renting a cheaper accommodation to increase the flow of money by reducing monthly payments. Now that you know well about your financial position, you have to work towards bettering it.
Create monthly budget
To control finances, you have to keep a tab on your expenses very carefully. As you know your financial status and the debt liabilities and have made some plan for paying off debts, you have to look into other possible adjustments to make the plan fruitful. The way to do it is to create a monthly budget.
Create the different heads of expenses like housing, food, gas, entertainment, clothing, insurance, debt, etc. and allocate realistic figures to each to find out where the maximum expenses happen. When you know where your money goes, work out the ideal number by considering how much should be the spending. That would help to figure out unwanted expenses that you can cut and allocate funds to other areas. Using some online free software for budgeting tool will make things easy.
The budget will pinpoint the high spending areas, and you must start practicing frugal spending that helps to generate some excess funds that you can use for paying off debts on time. Practice discipline in expenditures by differentiating between needs and wants and keep checking your finances weekly so that you can identify overspending early and do something to prevent its recurrence. Practicing financial discipline pays back much more for single parents than trying to increase income only.