How To Survive Financially As A Single Mum

Our ‘women in finance’ series focuses on the financial issues that women face, especially single mothers.

From gender equality in the workplace to financial planning, this series takes an in-depth look at key topics of discussion.

Money can be a constant worry when you’re a single parent. How do you pay for everything with just one income? What happens if you’re unable to work? How are you supposed to pay for heating and food in 2022?

If you’re a single mother, chances are childcare is left to you. This can be great in some ways because you get to spend more time with your kids – however, it can often leave you burdened with the bulk of financial responsibility, which can be a big cause of stress.

Whatever your situation, you’re most likely worried about how to survive financially as a single mum in 2022, especially if your income is limited or you don’t get much help from your other half. Financial difficulties can greatly impact your mental health, and single parents are often stretched thin by being the sole caregivers for their children as it is.

Your kids rely on you as a single parent, so it’s essential to plan ahead. With some basic financial planning, you can mitigate some of the stress and put a solid plan in place.

What benefits is a single mum entitled to in the UK?

The UK government has acknowledged the difficulties that single mums face each day when it comes to raising their children – not to mention the increased difficulties from the cost of living crisis currently taking place in 2022. With food and energy prices soaring, there are some benefits that aim to help single mums and make their lives a little easier.

Universal Credit

The most popular benefit provided by the UK government is Universal Credit. It has replaced older benefits and tax credits and is being paid monthly. People with low income, unemployed or unable to work are eligible for the Universal Credit. However, there are some requirements that you will have to take into consideration before applying for Universal Credit, especially if you are receiving other benefits. For more information, you can visit the Universal Credit gov.uk page. Just remember, you can’t claim tax credits if you’re already claiming universal credit.

Child Benefit

Child Benefit is another common scheme of financial support provided by the UK government. This is paid at the rate of £21.42 per week for the first child and a further £14 per week for each additional child. This benefit can only be claimed by one person. Therefore, make sure that any other caregivers are aware if you want to apply, as two people can’t claim the same benefit. For more information, please visit the Child Benefit page on gov.uk.

Bereavement Support

Losing a spouse or significant other is a devastating experience. The death of a spouse, wife, or civil partner may entitle you to a bereavement support payment if you’re left in financial hardship due to their passing. Generally, your loss must have occurred within the past 21 months for you to be eligible for this benefit, however there are exceptions.

If you are already receiving child benefit, you will be paid at a higher rate. This higher rate consists of a lump sum of £3,500 plus 18 instalments of £350. The standard rate of Child Benefit is one lump sum payment of £2,500 followed by eighteen monthly instalments of £100. Read more about the bereavement support payment, and learn if you are eligible for it.

Childcare Help

Childcare costs are a major burden for many single-parent families. No matter your job situation, if you have a child between the ages of three and four, you are eligible for 15 hours of free childcare per week. This rises to 30 hours a week if you already have a job.

If you are a parent of a child aged two or younger and are currently receiving another government benefit, such as Universal Credit, you may be able to apply for 15 hours of free childcare each week. Visit the Childcare support page on gov.uk for more details.

Council Tax Support

As a single-parent family household, you may be entitled to a reduction in your council tax payments, especially if you’re already receiving benefits or are on a low income. It’s definitely worth checking to see if this applies to you as a lone parent by visiting the Council Tax Reduction page on gov.uk. Reducing your overall housing costs can greatly improve your overall monthly budget, so housing benefits should definitely be explored.

Free School Meals

If your child is attending a school that offers meals, as a low-income family or single Mum you may be entitled to receiving free school meals. This can greatly increase your overall budget and mean you have extra money for the month, as having this taken care of can really be a weight off of your mind, and your bank account. Check the Free School Meals gov.uk page to see if you’re eligible.

Single Mum On A Budget

Everyone knows that the key to keeping on top of your finances is budgeting. It’s important to spend the time doing this properly, so make sure to set aside some time (perhaps when the kids are in bed) and do the following:

  • Go through all your direct debits/ standing orders and write them down (e.g. Rent – £800, etc).
  • Cancel anything you don’t need (e.g. unused gym membership, a free trial you forgot to cancel, Netflix subscription if you’re not using it much, etc).
  • Write down your essential monthly expenses (e.g. groceries – £200, travel expenses – £100, childcare – £200 etc).
  • Add them up, so you have a total.
  • Subtract this number from your monthly income.
  • What you have left is how much you can spend each month. You can divide this by 4 for a weekly budget (although be careful of 5-week months).
  • You could also divide this number by 30.4 to see a daily budget, which helps to mitigate surprises during the longer months.
  • Use an app that tracks your spending, so you can easily keep on top of it. Some banks like Monzo can classify and help track your spending habits. This means you’re fully aware of everything coming out of your account and can react/plan accordingly.

Things that single mums should consider

It can be daunting looking at your finances in this way, especially if you don’t have much left over.

Don’t stress, as there are many more things you can do when learning how to survive financially as a single mum on a budget.

  • Can you get a better deal for any of your bills? Do a quick search on a comparison website for things like your broadband, car insurance and electricity.
  • Go through your transactions for the last few months and see if there are any areas where you can cut down.
  • Think of some money-saving alternatives for low-income families (e.g. cook more meals at home, buy second-hand clothes or look for sales, buy supermarket own-brand products, etc).
  • Find someone in your support network to share childcare with, instead of paying for it. This could be sharing school runs or using playdates to babysit for each other.

Planning Ahead

Budgeting is a great way to manage your finances, but what happens when one of your pipes burst, or you have an unplanned bill to pay? Planning for the unexpected is an essential part of how to survive financially as a single mum.

  • Put money aside every month (you should ideally use 20% of your income for savings or any debt repayment. However, we know that’s sometimes not an option so whatever you can is better than nothing at all).
  • Only use your savings for emergencies – unforeseen bills for example.
  • Always keep your emergency fund topped up. If you have an urgent expense that blows your savings, cut back for a few months or work extra hours if you can to build this back up again.
  • Never live off of credit cards or loans. They can be useful to bridge the gap between paychecks, but never rely on them. If you’re already in debt, a financial advisor can help you find a way out.
  • Upgrade your medical insurance, so that you’re not constantly covering costs with your savings.
  • Get Insurance. A great way to give yourself peace of mind when you’re a single mother, is ensuring your family is covered, should the worse happen. Getting Life insurance or critical illness cover are two things you should definitely have. Read our blog about life insurance for children to learn more.
  • Get repair cover for things like your boiler or washing machine. This is particularly useful when you’ve got young kids running around. You can get cover for just a few pounds a month in most cases, and this will dramatically reduce your chances of needing to dip into your emergency savings.

Everything can seem overwhelming when you’re worried about how to survive financially as a single mum. It can be easy to always prioritise your kids’ needs, over your own. While that often comes with being in a single-parent family, it’s important to reward yourself every now and again.

Being a single parent is hard, but with some simple financial planning, you can make sure that you’re always prepared to look after yourself and your family. Your mental health is extremely important, so make sure to utilise the support network around you – your parents, friends and other single parents will support and listen to your issues, so don’t keep things to yourself if you’re really struggling.

Holborn Assets can help single mums

At Holborn, we know that being a single mum is a difficult task, especially when high inflation and the cost of living puts a strain on your budget. Nevertheless, you should not be discouraged as there are solutions for you and your family. Holborn’s advisers are always on hand to help you build a financial plan which could help the overall well-being of your family.

Holborn hires only the most experienced and fully qualified financial advisers in the market. For more than 20 years we have helped our clients achieve their financial goals. If you would like to listen to our financial planning solutions and get a personal financial review, get in touch with us today by filling out our form.

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