Why Financial Literacy In The US Should Increase Its Focus On Single Moms

The single-mother family makes up many households today. In fact, the U.S. has the highest rate of single-parent households in the world. A single mom carries a great deal of responsibility as the sole provider and has to wear many hats to provide everything her kids need. 

The single-parent household may be typical, but for many single moms, it comes with some form of struggle. And the challenges are real — single-parents are twice as likely to be low income when compared to a two-parent household. It makes sense when you consider that one income has to stretch further to make ends meet. 

But it should also be noted how many single moms are known to be resilient and resourceful when it comes to giving their kids the best life possible. If you’re a single mom, you can get yourself and your kids ahead in life with a little help and some basic knowledge about how to stretch your finances.

Managing Debt

A mother has no room for financial mistakes when she’s the sole provider for her family. Her budget is probably tight with no room to carry large amounts of debt from credit cards and personal loans. The main reason why debt can create financial issues comes down to interest. If you have high-interest debt, such as credit cards or payday loans to pay off, the faster you can pay it down, the more money you will save.  

Consider this. Paying off the minimum monthly amount required of $10,000 in credit card debt at an interest rate of 24.99% annual percentage rate (APR) can take years to pay off. If you choose to pay the balance off in five years by sending in roughly $300 per month, you will have paid another $7,600 in interest by the time it is paid off. For a low-income mom, there are better uses for the extra $7,600 wasted on interest.

Setting up a strict budget that includes paying off the highest interest debt first, putting money aside each month in an emergency savings fund, and controlling spending can improve a single mother’s odds of staying out of debt and paying down debt quickly.

If you feel secure in your job and disciplined enough to stick to your budget, a debt consolidation loan can help you roll all your expensive debt into a single loan at a lower interest rate. Qualifying for one with an APR that’s half of what you’re currently paying each month can help you pay more money towards what you owe and less to interest charges so you can get out of debt faster.

Flexible Work

Being a working mom has its advantages and drawbacks. Work gives you a chance to be independent and provide for your kids. But the hours required could affect how much time you spend with the children who need you. 

A job with flexible work hours or the opportunity to regularly work from home can be a good solution to better balance your work and family responsibilities. Working from home takes some adjustment to ensure you can work uninterrupted, but it could free up your budget by saving you money on expensive daycare fees and lower the gasoline bill caused by commuting to work every day. 

Some ideal jobs for moms include working from home as a virtual assistant, doing data entry, or working as a customer service representative. You may even be able to bump up your earnings by working extra hours in the night while your kids sleep.

Low-Income and Single-Parent Programs 

If you’re struggling to cover your family expenses, there are many programs available that provide single moms with assistance to get you through the month. Some may involve job training to help you find better employment. Other programs provide financial assistance for help with rent and food. Here are some ways you can find additional support:

Dial 211

States provide the 211 hotline as a shortcut to community services and programs to help those in need. Call the hotline and explain what you need to the representative. He or she will be able to give you a list of resources available to you including physical and mental health programs for you and your kids, information about job training and transportation assistance to and from work, financial aid programs, and tutoring and childcare services for low-income families.

Check With Your State for Low-Cost Car Insurance Programs

Being able to drive yourself and your kids around is essential, but car insurance can be expensive. Many states have low-cost car insurance programs for low-income individuals and families.

Look for Rental Assistance

One of the largest expenses of single-parent households is rent. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides single moms and low-income individuals with help finding affordable or free housing. The government’s rental assistance programs vary. You could qualify to receive a voucher that pays for some or all of your rent at a rental of your choice, or you can work with a landlord who offers discounted rent through HUD. HUD also provides low-income housing nationwide through your local public housing agency.

Sign Up for Food Assistance

The government has food assistance programs for single moms. The nutrition program  Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides help to pregnant or nursing moms or to those who are raising little ones under the age of 5. Besides WIC, the government has food assistance programs for school-age children as well as food stamps (SNAP) for families. 

Single Moms Are Not Alone — There Is Help Available

When you’re raising your kids on your own, you may feel as if it’s you and your family against the world. Don’t feel discouraged; there is help and support available. 

It’s important to create a household budget to track your family’s spending and avoid shortfalls at the end of the month. Although things may be tight, saving some money each month towards an emergency fund is vital for times when an emergency arises. Not having money set aside for an emergency may lead you to turn to expensive alternatives such as credit cards or payday loans. 

If, once you put a budget together, you find you don’t make enough to cover all your expenses and grow your emergency savings account, turn to community and federal programs for additional assistance. There are plenty of programs available that can help you save on housing, food, and other expenses to help you manage your finances and get ahead.

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