There are a million websites that offer money management tips for single parents, but the reality is, none of them can do much to alleviate the day-to-day financial pressure of raising a child alone. With the average cost of raising a child through the age of 18 years floating around a quarter million dollars (according to an Associated Press report), it doesn't take an expert to know that a single parent has to make every penny count.
For a single parent, money management is especially difficult -- and important.
Get the Right Software
Of all the money management tips you'll hear, the first one should always be to find a program to track and monitor your finances. First thing's first: Don't spend money on software! Programs such as Mint.com are free, but Mint breaks the stereotype of getting what you pay for. Mint allows the single parent to tag and categorize every purchase, so you can easily see and compare what you're spending on everything from diapers to daycare to school supplies. Its mobile app follows the busy parent wherever she or he goes.
Compare, Compare, Compare
When you find a brand or product you like -- especially if it's a recurring purchase, such as diapers -- be sure to compare the cost of physical stores and online outlets, and then compare them against each other. Although your time is probably as pressed as your money, convenience is not a luxury single parents have if they want to keep their finances straight. There's a Target close to your house, but if you can save money by driving further, you'll have to leave your comfort zone more frequently. The good news is, you may be able to save time and money by shopping online for recurring purchases.
For the single parent, it becomes extra important to get a measurement of what you're spending and where. Software such as Mint uses clear, easy graphs and charts to break expenditures down into categories so you can see a side-by-side comparison of where your money is going. Go the extra step and include the comparisons you made in the last section into your software's calculations to see where money could be saved in the future. Most money management tips for single parents have always included a part about categorization, but now there is free software to make it possible for the busy single mom or dad.
Being a single parent is stressful enough; let good software take the pressure off of your financial planning.
Keeping your finances straight is a tough and constant chore for people who don't have the added stress of raising a child alone. For the single parent, however, it becomes even more difficult -- and more important. Use the right software, categorize everything, and never become complacent about comparing prices of virtually every product or service you use.
Mint.com finally offers relief to single parents trying to make ends meet. Join today and put sophisticated, yet simple technology behind all the money management tips that you have always heard, but didn't have time to put in place. The best thing it does for your money is let you keep it - Mint is free!