Single parenting can be a juggling act and often quite hard emotionally and financially.
From subsidies to discounts to job sharing, single parents have it tough but here are some great ways to make sure you can still get ahead financially.
Here are 10 ways to save money as a single parent:
1. Check with Centrelink
Centrelink has a variety of options to help. The most commonly known one is the parenting pension, but there is also rent assistance, Family Tax Benefit A and B, Carers Allowance if you have children who need extra care or treatment such as speech therapy etc. Also, with your health care card you can get car registration reduced, electricity/gas/phone discounts as well as travel discounts. Ask everywhere if you get a discount.
2. Pair up with other parents for activities
By pairing up with other families you can save money in a few ways. For example if you go to a theme park, the zoo or even the pool together you can get a family pass with extra kids which usually works out cheaper than if you went separately and got 2 adult tickets plus the kids. Another way to pair up is by swapping babysitting duties so you baby sit one time, they do it another or if you only have one or two children each you could go halves in one baby sitter at one of your houses.
3. Negotiate school fees
Some schools will discount the fees for single parents or even discount it for a time if you are struggling financially. Simply make an appointment with the school and ask.
With your groceries shop around, learn the prices of things in your area and when items go on sale. Plan what you eat and only buy what you need. Get resourceful and source free food. There are food banks, wild fruit trees and other options to find free food. For example herbs are expensive to buy but cheap to grow and you don't need a backyard as they'll happily grow in a small indoor pot.
If you have any skills or have anything to give, try bartering for what you need. Some popular options are babysitting, lawn mowing, ironing, cleaning, cooking, cutting hair, excess fruit or vegetables, baked goods and so on. All it takes is a little of your time and a little of theirs.
6. Beauty on a budget
Try swapping some of your beauty items for cheaper alternatives. Use 1 part olive oil to 3 parts sugar to make a great body scrub, use mashed fruit or whisked eggs and other items from your kitchen to make face masks. Even make up powder can be made from cocoa and talcum powder. Simply mix to get your desired colour. Also, look out for samples and freebies of products as well as entering blog giveaways and other competitions for things you need. Strawberry.net is a good place to start for heavily discounted beauty products.
7. Drop the guilt
Parents often feel guilty for not providing their children with everything and it can be even harder as a single parent, especially immediately after you become single. Stop feeling guilty and trying to buy your kids everything they want. The most important thing is spending time with them and creating memories. Most people’s fondest childhood memories are not about things, but about fun family experiences.
8. Financial counseling
There are a variety of options from various charities offering financial counseling for free. This can be a great way to get your finances sorted and get some advice for free. If you have real trouble managing your mounting debts and bills then you might want to consult BillstoPay.com.au who can help you manage your money.
9. Financial assistance
If you are really struggling financially you can get financial assistance from charities such as The Salvation Army, Anglicare and Lifeline. Work out what you really need such as food vouchers or hampers, assistance paying electricity etc. then approach them for help. The more specific you are the easier it is for them to help you.
10. Legal Aid
If you will be going through court, apply for legal aid as soon as possible. You can get free legal advice and representation. If you are unsure about your situation you can ring your local court house to find out when they have sessions, then go in on that morning, early and get advice.
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