Budgeting Tips for Single Mothers

When you’re supporting a family on a single income, budgeting becomes more than trying to decide if you can afford dinner out once a week. You not only have to make sure your earnings or other money supply stretches to last through the month—you also have to make provisions for unexpected expenses and future expenses like health care, purchase of a home, college, and more.

That’s a lot to handle on a limited income. It’s the rare person who can balance all the financial needs of the family perfectly—but anyone can become an expert on where their money goes, and that’s the important first step.

Keep a notebook (or spreadsheet, if you like doing things on the computer) of expenses every day. Enter into it everything you spend—and I mean every penny. If you put money in a parking meter, enter it. If you give the kids money for an ice cream or a movie, enter it. Don’t worry yet about what category it falls under, but do note what the money was used for. If your kids just ask for “money”, find out afterwards what they spent it on.

After a week, review your expenses and assign them to categories that make sense to you. If you think ice cream belongs under “entertainment” instead of “food” or “treats”, that’s fine—but remember that making distinctions like that will force you to comb through grocery store receipts to categorize every item. Budgeting should be easy enough that it doesn’t become a second job in itself. Here is a list of common categories that you can choose from. Remember that if they don’t make sense to you, they won’t work, so mix and match or combine categories to reflect your actual thinking about spending:

Repeat this activity every week until you have a month’s worth of data. By that time, you will have paid credit card bills, rent or mortgage, and utilities—those should be included in your list of expenses. Then look over your expenditures for the month. The fixed expenses you can’t do anything about—that’s why they’re fixed. There might be small gains you can make in some things like utilities, but at this stage of the budget game, don’t worry about it.

A good combination of essential expenses to shoot for is 30-15-15. That’s:

  • 30% of your income on housing: includes rent or mortgage, utilities, maintenance and so forth.
  • 15% on food: it’s recommended you keep this to necessary food, the kind you buy at the grocery store. If you shop wisely, that should make all other food (restaurant meals, lattes, lunches bought at work instead of prepared at home) fall neatly into the “entertainment” category. It’s much easier to cut back on this category.
  • 15% on transportation: includes car payments, insurance, fuel and maintenance.

That leaves 40% of your income to cover clothing, insurance and/or medical payments, entertainment, debt repayment, and miscellaneous. Part of that “miscellaneous” should be some kind of savings plan.

If your figures for the month show that you’re paying significantly more than 30% for housing, you need to take some action. If you can’t think of any easy solutions that will work for you (such as taking in renters, moving in with family, and the like), here are some links to housing assistance programs that might be able to help:

If you find you’re spending much more than 15% of your income on food, it’s possible you’re not doing everything you could be to minimize this expense. Here’s some helpful links on how to cook nutritious and enticing food your kids will eat, and that will also help a lot in your budgeting efforts:

If your expenses fall within the ranges above, good for you! You’re completely average! Now why not do even better in the savings category by trimming items you really don’t need from the other categories? The only sure-fire way to make money is to save money.

If you are pretty computer literate, and you find you kind of like the budget process, try to find a copy of Quicken or another computerized budgeting tool. These are basically more sophisticated spreadsheets, with all the budget aspects already programmed. They have common expense categories already set up, but you can still add your own.

This is a great tool to have, because at any time you can see all your finances at a glance. With paper records, you’re stuck with pulling out statements to compare where you were last week or last month, and having to manually calculate where you are this instant. But again, the tool is only valuable if you keep it up, and are computer-savvy enough to use it to full advantage.

Does the whole budgeting process sound too boring for you? Don’t fret—there are many like you. You don’t like to nit-pick about expenses, but at the same time you need to get control of your spending. The following story is a more philosophical view of budgeting from someone who managed to rein in her spending without becoming an accountant in a little green cap:

One important thing to keep in mind when budgeting as a single mother is that most likely, you’ll have to cut back somewhere. That “somewhere” might be things that your kids are used to having, like cable TV, or lots of snacks in the house, or maybe spending money that you don’t keep track of. It’s important to share with your kids that the family’s budget needs to be under control, and they might have to give up some of these goodies. Don’t worry—they might make a fuss about it, but if you’re firm and keep explaining to them that giving up a little now, might prevent giving up a lot later, they should be capable of understanding.

You might have some success by enlisting them to help you meet the budget when shopping. Instead of a brand-name cereal they like, send them on a mission to find the generic brand, and compare how much cheaper it is. Or (a better bet, since kids are so computer-savvy), put them in charge of finding recipes on the Web that you can make with inexpensive, basic ingredients, instead of all the over-priced prepared foods the shops try to entice you to buy. If you have girls, see if they’re interested in learning how to make bread and pizza dough, or even something really challenging like canning. For boys, send them off to a mechanically-inclined relative or trusted neighbor to learn how to change the oil on the car, or do basic home repairs. They’ll not only help the family save money—they’ll learn skills they can use their whole lives to continue the tradition of common-sense budgeting and saving.

College Grants for Single Mothers

College Scholarships for Single Mothers – Tips on Filling out Your Application

One of the main reasons many get rejected from college scholarships for single mothers is that they do not pay close attention to the application process. Overlooking eligibility requirements or specific requests on what documentation needs to be submitted are two of the main problems for people applying for scholarships. This article will attempt to give you a few tips on things you should look out for when applying to a scholarship program.

First impressions are very important, and your application is the first thing that scholarship administrators will see. It will show them how committed you are to moving forward and whether or not you deserve to take the scholarship, maybe even from someone else. By presenting a rushed, incomplete or unprofessional application you will be proving that you are not mature enough or committed enough to make the best of what that scholarship may provide.

To avoid this problem, you should begin preparing well in advance of the deadline so you will have plenty of time to check everything over four or even five times. The better your application, the more chance you have to get accepted into programs offering college scholarships for single mothers. Some guidelines you should follow include:
1. Type it out – unless the application specifically requests you to print it out, you should type it out to give it a professional look. Double check your work for any spelling and grammatical errors, and reread the final version before sending it.
2. Early submission – you should send in your application as early as possible since many scholarships apply the first-come, first-served principle, and if the funding runs out, you have to wait until the following year.
3. College test scores are very important and if you feel you could have done better, then you can retake the test. Make sure that the educational institutions you are applying to have received you scores.
4. Include a CV – even though most applications have an area for you to add your activities and awards, it is more professional to include a CV.
5. Never leave a blank space as it can be interpreted that you overlooked the question. Just fill in with NA, for not applicable.
These are just a few guidelines to help you prepare your application but the first thing you should do is check with the institution if you are eligible or not as nothing can get you rejected faster than sending in an application for a program you do not qualify for. This can hurt you with other programs as well because the same institution may have other options but you will be remembered as the candidate who couldn’t do a little research beforehand. It pays to take an extra five minutes to sort through the programs and see which you are eligible for.

There are many institutions which offer college scholarships for single mothers as well as more generalized scholarship programs which you may qualify for. As long as you present yourself in a positive light and show your dedication to furthering your education nothing can stand in your way.

College Scholarships for Single Parents

Many single parents experience a financially challenging life. The responsibilities a single parent has can make it difficult in making ends meet. College is a fantastic way to improve income – which ultimately can improve the quality of your lifestyle. But, with many single parents already facing a tough time financially speaking, college isn’t an option for some. In fact, many single parents are not aware of the help that is out there. College scholarships for single parents are a fantastic way of providing financial aid, to get you back into school. There are various different scholarships that can, and will help you to improve your life.

  • Raise the Nation

Raise the Nation is one of the best single parent scholarship programs available. If you are a single mother who is in need of money to go to college, or if you have been denied funding from various different other scholarship programs, then Raise the Nation should be priority.

  • The Assistance League

The Assistance League offer excellent scholarship programs for single parents. They deal primarily with community based programs that will help you pay for your tuition. They have a full website that includes resources, and details on programs in specific states.

  • Federal Pell Grant

The Federal Pell Grant is probably one of the most popular college scholarships for single parents. With an extremely high acceptance rate, the Federal Pell Grant can offer up to $5,350 for educational purposes. To apply, you’ll need to visit your financial aid officer after having completed a FAFSA online.

  • Women’s Opportunity Awards – Soroptimist.org

The Women’s Opportunity Awards is a major program by Soroptimist. They assist women who provide the primary source of financial support for their families by giving them the resources they need to improve their education, skills, and employment prospects. They distribute over $1 million in cash awards at various different employment prospects each year. They offer fantastic support, and give tremendous advice about how to get back into school.

  • The Jeannette Rankin Foundation

The Jeannette Rankin Foundation, JRF for short, provides scholarships for women who are 35 and older and are part of the low income bracket. Over 97% of JRF scholars in the last 3 years have graduated, or are still in school. They offer exceptional college scholarships for single parents, yet are very specific as to who they invite – if you are determined, positive and understand your future goals, including having a lot of passion for what you want to achieve, you are guaranteed a place there!

Above is just a small handful of institutions that offer college scholarships for single parents. It’s important that you never give up searching and applying for financial aid – college could be the one big thing that changes your life completely, for the better.

Employment Advice for Single Mothers

Can you relate to this situation? You’re a single mother; you’re working full-time for a company when a domestic crisis hits. Suddenly your work hours can be potentially effected due to your family commitments. Believe it or not this happens everyday, some single mothers gaining the understanding of their employers while others endure severe financial loss. Ever wonder what you are entitled to? Ever wonder what steps you can take to protect yourself. In this article we will attempt to offer some Employment advice for single mothers.

Both single and working mothers make up a large segment of the work force and employment tribunals tend to look rather unfavorable on employers that choose to make their lives difficult. That said most of us would rather settle the problem amicably before having to have the problem taken over by the legal system. The best place to start is within your own company. Check out their own policies regarding work hours reduction, flexi-time, compassionate leave and so forth. The best employment advice for single mothers might be right there at your fingertips. It may seem like a simple solution to a complex problem but there are numerous examples of companies behaving in direct violation of their own polices.

If the issue cannot be resolved within the company’s own rules and procedures then another possibility is to consult your union representative. Becoming a member of a union may seem like an added cost but when you need legal advice on employment law they are highly beneficial. Simply contact your representative, put your situation in writing and listen to whatever advice they have to offer you. Unions in many cases will cover your legal costs should your situation end up in the courts. They can also offer you liability protection should things start to get ugly.

Many seeking employment advice for single mothers want to know the specifics, under the law of what they are entitled to. This can be difficult being that laws can differ from state to state and region to region. However, in general you are entitled to time off for domestic emergencies, especially if child care is involved. Keep in mind that this is a short term solution. Companies are not expected to offer this for an indefinite period of time. You also have to keep in mind that payment will vary. There are no laws protecting your salary if you take time off for this reason. It is the company’s decision whether or not they pay you. The company will likely be in violation of the law if they dismiss you for this reason.

Another piece of employment advice for single mothers is to always try to settle things amicably with your employer. Depending on where you live, if they are making your life difficult and are being child unfriendly, you may be entitled to protection under the sexual discrimination act. Write to your employer outlining your request, be it time of or a temporary reduction of work hours. Emphasize the point hat you wish to settle this in a friendly manner and would rather not take legal advice or seek a decision by the courts. This will present you in a very calm professional manner as well as put your employer on notice that you are aware of certain rights you have.

A final piece of employment advice for single mothers on the subject of physical health. These situations can be very stressful, to the point that physical symptoms can start to show. Should this happen make sure you see your doctor. If they deem it necessary for you to have time off due to stress, your employer can do noting.

Financial Aid for Single Moms

You should seek out the readily available grant money that you are eligible for. A single mother is frequently subject to enormous financial strain. In addition to the responsibility of caring for your children, other basic essentials need to be provided for a single mom’s family. The responsibility of nurturing and entertaining children at a young age will always involve additional expenses. Financial Aid for Single Mom grant awards will greatly help the situation.

Since the early years of a child’s life is very important as far as early development is concerned, it is critical that a mother is able to provide the necessary support. We will take a look at the Financial Aid for Single Mom programs that are available to assist a single mom. Grant awards are currently distributed by a total of about 20 agencies, and the process of getting a grant may be difficult for some people.

You should know that government is taking a special interest in seeing that awards are made available to everyone who is eligible to receive them. An effective way to go back to school would be with a Pell grant. This grant will benefit you in returning to school, and your children will not directly benefit from it. The amount you receive is much smaller than most grants and usually is only enough to cover tuition for an academic year.

To qualify for such grants you will have to be classified a low income family and you will have to provide proof of such when you complete you application. Pell grants are indeed enough for you to go back to school and receive higher education – that is in fact its main benefit. By increasing your education, you will be considered a better qualified employee candidate and will be able to get a better job and command a higher salary. All this because of assistance made available through Financial Aid for Single Mom.

In this way your financial worries of the past will soon be forgotten. As a single mother you may also be eligible for medical grant. Government provides these grants for people in low income bracket to receive medical care. Access to such a grant will greatly help the single mom since the alternative, medical insurance, will be prohibitively expensive. You will not have to face medical bills again.

For the single mom, her personal finances will always be a great concern. That cannot be avoided. Financial Aid for Single Mom money is readily available to her. The key is to do the research and search out those grants that will meet your needs, and you can easily change your financial situation. It is all in your hands to create the future you want for you and your child. You can achieve this by taking advantage of programs offering Financial Aid for Single Mom.