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Thriving as a Single Parent During High Inflation and Low Wages

The economic landscape has changed in 2023, and many families feel pressured to spend less and save more. This pressure can feel even more intense when you’re a single parent. These tips can help.

Life as I knew it was turned upside down in the blink of an eye. The COVID-19 pandemic swept across the globe, and like many others, I found myself without a job.

As a single mother of two wonderful kids, aged 5 and 7, the sudden loss of income was a harsh blow. But in the face of adversity, I discovered a resilience I never knew I had. That I’m now back on my feet and financially secure is a testament to that resilience.

If you dig deep, you’ll also have that resilience.

This article will cover:

  • Understanding the current economic climate
  • Single mom budgeting tips
  • How to cut costs and save money
  • Ideas for generating income
  • Utilizing community resources
  • Maintaining mental and emotional health

Understanding the current economic climate

To navigate a storm, we must first understand its nature. In our case, the storm is the current economic climate that’s given us high inflation and low wages. Here’s how that translates:

In simple terms, inflation is the rate at which the general level of prices for goods and services is rising. It means that each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services. This is especially significant today when wages are not rising at the same rate, leading to decreased purchasing power.

For instance, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the inflation rate from 2020 to 2023 was 17.6%. This means that if you bought a basket of groceries for $100 in 2020, the same basket would cost you around $117.60 in 2023, assuming all items in the basket increased at the same rate.

The impact of this on daily living and budgeting is significant. It means that the same amount of money buys you less than before, making it harder to make ends meet, especially when your wages have not increased proportionately.

When I lost my job, I felt the pinch of this economic nightmare, to put it mildly. The weekly grocery shopping became a strategic mission, trying to get the most nutritional value for the least amount of money.

The cost of utilities, transportation, and even the occasional treat for the kids seemed to be constantly on the rise. It was clear that I needed to adapt my financial habits to this new reality.

Single mom budgeting tips and basics

1. Identify income and costs/expenses

Budgeting is like a roadmap for your finances. It helps you see where your money is going, identify necessary expenses, and find areas where you can save. A well-planned budget can be a lifesaver in an economic climate of high inflation and low wages.

Creating a single mom budget begins with understanding your income and expenses.

Income includes wages and other sources such as child support, government benefits, or side gigs.

Costs or expenses include rent, utilities, groceries, transportation, and discretionary spending like entertainment or eating out.

2. Set financial goals

Once you have a clear picture of your income and expenses, the next step is to set financial goals. These could be short-term goals like saving for a holiday gift or long-term ones like building an emergency fund or saving for your kids’ education. Your budget should reflect these goals.

3. Adjust your spending habits

Adjusting your spending habits is often necessary when dealing with high inflation and low wages. This could mean cutting back on non-essential expenses, like that pair of designer shoes you’ve been eyeing, the latest gadget, or dinner at a fancy restaurant.

When I got back on my feet, having a clear budget was my life raft. It helped me stay afloat, make informed decisions, and even find ways to save despite the rising costs.

For example, I started meal planning (freezer meals for the win!), saving money, time, and stress. I also started using public transportation more often, saving on fuel costs.

Easier ways to cut costs and save money

  • Meal planning
  • Using public transportation
  • Find low-cost child activities
  • Know that every bit counts
  • Shop at second-hand stores

Reducing expenses is a must during this high-inflation, low-wage environment. Many strategies exist to cut costs without significantly impacting your quality of life.

Meal planning, as I mentioned earlier, is a great way to save on grocery bills. By planning meals ahead of time and shopping with a list, you avoid impulse purchases and make the most of sales and discounts.

Using public transportation and carpooling significantly reduced my transportation costs. For entertainment, I looked for free or low-cost activities in my neighborhood and spent much more time outdoors with my kids. Try having a picnic in the park or a hike on a local trail.

Saving money, even small amounts, can make a big difference over time. Try incorporating saving into your budget, even if it’s just a few dollars a week. Over time, this can add up and provide a safety net for unexpected expenses. A budgeting app is a great way to keep a check on how much you are saving.

Every little bit helps. I started a change jar and was amazed at how quickly it added up. I also started shopping at second-hand stores for clothing and household items. Not only did I save money, but I also found some unique and beautiful things that I wouldn’t have found in regular stores.

Generating Income

With the economy currently serving us with high inflation and low wages, finding ways to generate additional income can be a game-changer. The key is to be flexible and creative.

Many opportunities exist, from freelancing to selling handmade goods or starting a home-based business.

Freelancing can be a great way to use your skills to earn extra income. Websites like Upwork or Fiverr connect freelancers with clients looking for services ranging from graphic design to writing to virtual assistance.

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If you’re crafty, you might consider selling handmade goods. Websites like Etsy make setting up an online shop easy and reach customers worldwide. I started making and selling handmade jewelry, which provided extra income and became a creative outlet.

Starting a home-based business is another option. Depending on your skills and interests, this could be anything from a daycare service to a catering business. It requires more planning and investment but can provide a more substantial income in the long run.

Being open to new opportunities and stepping out of my comfort zone was key. I’m a teacher, so I started offering tutoring services, and it not only provided extra income but also boosted my confidence and motivation.

Utilizing community resources

Community resources can be a lifeline for single parents with high inflation and low wages. These resources range from food banks and financial planning services to job training programs.

Food banks can help reduce grocery expenses and offer fresh produce and other healthy options. Financial planning services can guide budgeting, saving, and managing debt. Job training programs can help you acquire new skills and improve your employment prospects.

In addition to these resources, there are also online communities and forums where single parents can share experiences, advice, and support. These communities can be a source of comfort and inspiration during challenging times. Try googling “single parents support group near me.”

I found that reaching out and accepting help was not a sign of weakness but a strength. I utilized local food banks and enrolled in a free financial planning workshop. These resources helped me manage my finances and connected me with others facing similar challenges.

Maintaining mental and emotional health

While managing finances is critical during high inflation and low wages, maintaining mental and emotional health is equally important. Financial challenges can take a toll on your well-being, making it even harder to get through these difficult times.

Self-care is not a luxury; it’s a necessity. This doesn’t mean expensive spa days or extravagant vacations. It can be as simple as taking a few minutes each day to relax and breathe, going for a walk, or enjoying a favorite hobby.

Managing stress is also essential. This could mean practicing mindfulness or meditation, exercising regularly, or talking to a friend or counselor. Remember, it’s okay to ask for help. You don’t have to navigate these challenges alone.

Taking care of my mental and emotional health benefited me and my kids. When I was less stressed and more present, I could be a better parent. I started practicing yoga, which helped me manage stress and stay grounded. I also made a point to find joy in small things, like a sunny day or a hug from my kids.

Navigating through high inflation and low wages as a single parent is difficult. It requires resilience, creativity, and a lot of hard work. But it’s also an opportunity to learn, grow, and discover strengths you never knew you had.

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