A Single Parent’s Guide To Dealing With Financial Hardship

This Guest post is written by Rebecca Williams, an aspiring writer

Everyone knows that parenting is a tough balancing act, especially for single parents. You are expected to provide for the family’s financial needs, manage the household, and raise happy, healthy, and well-rounded children.

Going thru a severe money problem, however, can throw everything off that delicate balance. For most single-parent families who are already struggling in the financial aspect, falling into a hardship can be a nightmare come true.

But how does one fall into severe financial dire straits anyway?

A huge pay cut, a sudden medical and household expense, and even major life events such as a death in the family can all put you in a precarious financial position. What turns these situations into a full-blown disaster is that you’re simply financially unprepared for it.

A Federal Reserve Board report revealed that 40% of Americans can’t afford a $400 emergency expense. Most of the people who don’t have the cash in hand often rely on debt to cover for it. If you are constantly relying on loans and credit cards to get by during an emergency situation, you’ll soon find yourself facing some serious financial issues.

How then, can you effectively solve this problem and help your family cope with the ordeal?

The truth is, there’s no easy way to tackle financial hardship. But it doesn’t mean that it has to be a horrible experience for you and your kids. How you deal with this challenge will determine how your family will come out of this ordeal.

Here are some practical tips on how you can pull yourself and your family out of this hot mess and emerge stronger and wiser than before:

1. Acceptance is key.

Let’s face it: it’s hard to admit to ourselves that our money problem is getting out of hand. Denial, however, only exacerbates the problem because you’re clearly dwelling on it by ignoring the fact that it exists. The sooner you accept how dire your situation is, the sooner you can focus your energies on addressing the problem.

2. Be intentional with your finances.

It all begins with intent. Being intentional means you make a conscious effort and decision to improve your situation to ultimately gain financial security and independence.

Don’t know where or how to start? Here are some helpful tips to get you started:

Create a budget that works for you

Get a clear picture of your financial situation by writing down your monthly income and expenses. Sort your list of expenditures according to your priorities.

If your monthly expenditure exceeds your income, then it’s time to for you to cut down on your expenses. You may want to cancel your gym membership, cable subscription, those paid online games your kids play, and other nonessential expenditures that you and your family can do without.

Cutting down your expenses will help you free up a significant amount of money and allot it either for household necessities or for building an emergency fund.

Get rid of your debt for good.

If you want to get yourself out of the financial rut that you’re in, you need to diminish your debt considerably. You can do this by paying off more than the required minimum monthly payment or get rid of it for good by signing up on a debt relief program. If you’re choosing the latter option, be sure to work with a legit and reputable debt relief company to help you deal with your debts.

Once you zero down your debt, commit to staying out of it. With lesser financial obligations to take care of, it will be easier for you to get your finances back in order.

Live below your means

Learn to value your hard-earned money by spending less than what your monthly income would allow.

This means choosing to save up for any purchase not covered by your budget instead of putting them on credit because you are looking at debt as a huge blunder to your financial recovery and not as a way to augment your budget. Remember that when you’re in hardship and you have kids depending on you, every single penny counts. So be mindful of your spending habits and save whenever you can.

3. Self-care is essential, even in the midst of a financial crisis.

As the saying goes, “you cannot serve from an empty vessel”. It’s practically impossible to take deal with all your problems, take care of your children and provide for their needs when your overall health is compromised.

Financial stress can make you feel drained and burned out. Studies show that mental problems such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD-like symptoms are three times more likely to occur on anyone with severe money problems. Simply put, poor financial health can lead to poor mental health which will eventually lead to poorer financial choices.

Stop this vicious cycle by giving emphasis on self-care. You didn’t have to spend a lot to achieve this. A few conscious decisions and some lifestyle changes should do the trick.

  • Make sure that you are physically healthy by getting regular exercise, eating healthy, and enough sleep because keeping yourself healthy is the best way to avoid any medical expense.
  • Learn to set boundaries by not letting other people’s lifestyle and financial choices influence yours. Spend less time on social media and unfollow those people whose lifestyle you’re trying to emulate. It would also help to make the people around you aware of your situation so they will understand the choices that you make for you and your family.
  • Surround yourself with people who offer encouragement, make you feel confident and support your endeavor. It may not make your money problems go away but it can make your troubles less daunting.

4. Make this a positive experience for the kids.

Start by being honest with your kids at an age-appropriate level about your current financial situation but don’t tell them more than what they need to know. What they need from you is your assurance you’re going to do your best to resolve it. Instead of focusing on the problem, put an emphasis on the life lessons that they’ll be able to learn from this experience such as the value of money and the importance of saving money.  

You may also take this opportunity to build a stronger and tighter bond with your children by spending more time with them. Do low-cost yet fun activities with them such as playtime at the park, preparing home-cooked meals together, and building blanket forts with them.

Lastly, make your children feel safe, loved, and important all the time because no matter what happens, at the end of the day, all you have is each other.

5. Be kind to yourself and move forward.

Debt is a solvable problem and financial hardship is a difficult challenge that you can overcome. The only way that you’re going to get stuck in this dire situation is if you don’t take action and move forward.

For some people experiencing hardship, taking action to solve your problem is even harder than admitting that the problem exists in the first place because it takes hard work, careful planning, and a few sacrifices on your part.

Recovering from a financial disaster doesn’t happen overnight. A lot of people want a quick fix to solve a severe financial setback but it just doesn’t work that way. It takes effort, persistence, and self-discipline to overcome this hurdle.

Hardships don’t last forever. Put all your intent into action and you’ll soon get this problem over with.

What happens afterwards?

Take all the lessons that you learn from this challenging experience as you move forward and pass it on to your children. Do not to repeat the same money mistakes that caused your hardship. So be wise and intentional in handling your finances, take on any challenge with positivity and you’ll be able to rise above any financial crisis that strikes your household.