So you figured out which classes you need to take, the best places to check out on and off campus and even figured out how to make some extra money for those “necessities." The only thing left now is …
Evaluate your current expenses. Your money is likely going to a lot of different places, from health insurance to child care to education. Start by figuring out how much goes where and whether there are any areas that you can simplify or cut back on.
Explain money so your children can understand. Start teaching your children early on about money and spending so they can learn how to manage money responsibly. This may also help curb family spending.
Look into tax breaks. As a single working parent, you are likely eligible for certain child care tax credits, allowing you to deduct up to $3,000 in day care bills for one child. Do your research about any other tax breaks that you may be able to take advantage of.
Tap into local resources. Instead of buying books and movies for your kids, stop by your local library, where you can borrow and return. Visit consignment shops for less expensive clothing for both you and your children.
Save for the important things. Regardless of areas that you might be able to cut back on in day-to-day expenses, don't cut back on saving for college and retirement. Even if you start by setting aside just a small amount on a regular basis, your savings will add up over time and make a big difference in the future.
Get your estate plan in order. More than anything else, it's important that you establish a legal guardian for your children and a plan for how you would want your finances distributed should something happen to you.
Set a budget. With only one income, you need to be even more conscious of your spending. Use software such as Excel or Quicken or other budgeting tools to help you stay on track.
Create a safety net. There will always be times when you will need to spend more than you have budgeted, whether it's for a family emergency, a child's field trip or repairs around the home. To protect against unexpected situations, build an emergency fund that can cover up to nine months of living expenses.
Don't forget to take care of yourself. By taking care of yourself, you will be able to better care for your family. Make time for yourself—your needs and wants. Look into finding a network of single parents in the area whom you can lean on for support.
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