When you’re a single parent, everything can require just that bit extra work. You’re essentially doing the job of two parents – having to get the kids in bed on time, get them up for school, organise meals and generally keep your little ones entertained around the clock.
You’ve also got the responsibility of being head of the household budget. This can be a difficult task on your own and it can sometimes feel like there are a lot of bills to remember to pay. Don’t panic – we’ll take you through how you can stay on top of your finances if you’re a single parent.
Putting together a plan
The first step to getting in control of your money is to put together a comprehensive budget. This means writing down everything you’ve got coming in – your income and any Child Benefit or other benefits that you receive. One of the difficult things about being a single parent is that you’ve only got your income to budget from, so you may have to make cutbacks in certain areas of your spending.
Next, you’ll need to make a list of all of your monthly outgoings. This means all of your household bills, any debt repayments and any other financial commitments you have. Don’t forget about any bills you pay throughout the year but may not be due every month – for example, you may only pay for your TV licence or council tax quarterly but you still need to account for these payments. To work out how much you’ll need to set aside for these every month, write down the total amount you pay over a year and divide this by 12. Add up all of your bills to give you a total figure for your outgoings.
Subtract your total outgoings from your monthly income and the amount you’re left with is your disposable income – you’re free to save this or spend it as you like.
Once you’ve made a budget, you’ll be able to identify any key areas of spending where you can afford to cut back. For example, while you might not want to reduce the amount you’re spending on groceries, you could look at cutting out the coffees you buy at work.
You could also look at increasing the amount you’re bringing in by making sure you’re claiming everything you can. Check how much Child Tax Credit you receive – you should be able to get up to £2,780 for each child under 16 or under 20 but in full-time education or training. If you’re on a low income and work a certain amount of hours, you might also be eligible for Working Tax Credit. If you’re on Universal Credit, you won’t be able to claim any tax credits as well – these will already be paid to you through the benefit.
If you’re the only adult living in your property, you could reduce your Council Tax bill by 25% with a single person’s discount. You can apply for this discount if you don’t already receive it through the Government’s website here.