Look To the Western Sky

A blog about single life as a parent & the dreams of a writer by Margo L. Dill

Tag: finance

Improving Your Finances at the End of the Week

Raising a kid is expensive. Being a single parent can also be challenging, even when both parents are working together to pay for kids’ doctors bills, child care, and activities. I’ll admit it–my strong suit is NOT budgeting, and I like to provide fun experiences for Katie and myself. I also want her involved in sports and other activities, so I have been trying hard to stop eating out so much and THINK before we spend money. When this contributed article came in to me, I thought it had some good tips, especially during the holiday season and when personal property tax is due in Missouri! Here you go: 

Finances are a big part of our lives: they dictate what we can and can’t do; and despite plenty of people declaring that “money isn’t happiness,” it is stability! Everyone can understand how good a little bit of leftover cash at the end of the week can feel.

It can often feel like you’re spiraling out of control when it comes to keeping your money in line, but it doesn’t have to. We could all do with a helping hand from time to time, so here’s some tips for you to consider when it comes to making ends meet.

Rethink Your Goals

Maybe you’ve been thinking  over your fiances over for a while, strategizing and planning in the spare minutes you have, but your money situation still doesn’t make any sense. However, setting yourself some good money goals is the first step in making sure you can improve on your current standing, as you immediately have something to work toward instead of floundering blindly.

Add up all your expenses for every week, including groceries and bills and any extraneous prices you’ll have to fork out for, just to give yourself more of a realistic view. Then, budget accordingly! Write down a budget that you think you can stick to with your finance goals included. 

Contact Your Service Providers

So your internet bill has raised again, and it’s the most useful asset in your modern household; you’re tearing your hair out. It’s time to contact the broadband man and make sure you have the best package to fit your family’s current needs and internet use. 

If your area has more than one gas or electric company, you could very well find a better rate or deal with another company; there could always be another option when it comes to your utilities! This is something people don’t often think about and just accept the bill they have to pay as is. These packages often aren’t advertised, and companies never want to lose a customer to a competitor, so they’re likely to accommodate you if you query it.  Your current provider can also give you some options on budget and consistent billing as well as ways to save on the power you use.  It doesn’t hurt to call and find out your options. 

Get Yourself a Piggy Bank

Yes, it sounds a little childish, but this is often a key component to getting a little extra cash when you need it. Save up all the pennies you have, and drop them in the slot, and then open it up at the end of the month. We’re often surprised at how much spare change can turn into real money that can go towards us and our families.

Even the idea of a piggy bank makes us unlikely to go spending money that we don’t really have. When the pennies are out of sight and thus out of mind, we’re more likely to save.

Buy Off the Bottom Shelf

We can’t always wait for deals or coupons to come for all products we need; and a lot of the time, companies get us to buy things we don’t want or need. That means it’s bottom shelf buying time. It’s not quite a well-known fact, but stores put the stuff they want us to buy at eye height, meaning the most expensive stuff goes there. That means we need to be aware of their crafty ways and work around them.

Search both the top and bottom shelves in the aisles for the best deals and the store’s own brands, as they’re so much cheaper. There really isn’t much difference between the ingredients and quality in the store’s brand than in the bigger food companies. It also means you can bulk buy and not feel guilty about it.

Look into Loan Options

So if you have some experience with having a lack of money, then you’re probably looking at this option with a quizzical eyebrow. Yet, this is an option if you really need the extra help to get yourself out of a bad financial situation in the short-term, and you think you could manage the payment at the end of the loaning period.

You’ll need to check your credit report before securing a loan and making sure any paid debts aren’t still lingering around on there, as that can pull down your score; often, they aren’t removed automatically.

You can find bad credit secured loans all over the place; you just need to know what to look and ask for. First place to start your research is the internet, as that has a lot of the information you will need for your task. Whilst it can be quicker to just find a lender and apply online after this, you don’t want to be too hasty and make sure you understand what the terms are. Take the idea to your bank if you’re looking for a more traditional loaning method; they too often have advice that’s invaluable and on a more personal level. It’s always worth a try after all!

Do you have a tip for budgeting or saving money? 

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Cutting The Cost of Parenthood

contributed post

From the moment you first find out you’re pregnant and that initial flush of joy fades, all moms-to-be find themselves asking the same question, “How am I EVER going to be able to afford this?” The good news is that nobody’s ever ready for the trials (and joys) of parenthood; and while of course some expectant parents are financially better off than others, it’s worth remembering that parents of all kinds of incomes have been getting by for as long as the human race has been around. That said, there’s no denying that a child can put pressure on your domestic finances. With the average cost of raising a child to the age of 17 approaching $240,000 , it’s enough to make any parent-in-waiting balk.

The good news is that the cost of parenthood can largely be ameliorated by a combination of ingenuity, thrift, invention, and common sense. While the default setting for many new parents is always “worry”, cutting financial costs is one of the many ways in which moms and dads can make life easier for themselves. Here are some tips to help you get started:

Never replace when you can repair

We live in a culture of disposability, where the pervasive logic is that when something breaks, it should be replaced rather than repaired. This is a shame because with a wealth of knowledge available to new parents through digital means, you can learn to fix just about anything from torn clothes to broken toys. While kids grow out of clothes quickly, you can learn to make alterations that can significantly expand their lifetime, and it’s worth looking into different types of embroidery machines. At a younger age, when kids grow emotionally attached to their clothes yet haven’t learned to be fashion snobs, this is particularly useful.

Plan your meals and batch cook

Whether you’re a parent or not, one of the surest ways to waste money is over-reliance on takeout and restaurants. Sure, everyone loves a treat after a hard day’s work, but a home cooked meal can rival anything bought at a restaurant at a tiny fraction of the cost. You can make a family night in just as special with candles and music without paying ludicrous restaurant prices.

You can also make substantial savings at the supermarket by shopping smart and avoiding impulse purchases. You can plan your week’s meals and shop accordingly, plus save time and effort by cooking in batches and making a bolognese or curry sauce, chili, or lasagna that will last the family for several meals. Reducing meat and dairy and upping the veggies will ensure that your weekly shop lasts longer, too.

Get creative with vacations

Family vacations are often perceived as way more expensive than they need to be. A great family vacation requires only three things; fun, family, and love. Everything else is bells and whistles. Taking a road trip not only saves on expensive flights, but allows your family much more freedom and control over your vacation, reducing the risk of stress and things that can go wrong.

Mom and son photo at the top of the post found here

 

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Money Myths That Cost Single Parents Greatly

contributed post

Maintaining financial health is hard work at the best of times, but it can be especially difficult when you’re a single parent. After all, those life commitments could stop you from landing the dream job while the costs of bringing up children continue to rise each year. In truth, it doesn’t make things easier when you fall into the common traps.

A better understanding of the full picture gives you a far better chance of keeping your head afloat. Here are some of the commonly perceived problems, along with the best ways to overcome.

Myth 1: It’s You vs the World

Splitting up from a partner is emotionally difficult, and it’s only natural to concentrate on yourself and the kids. This is perfectly normal from an emotional standpoint. Regarding the financial outlook, though, help is at hand. Whether it’s support for medical bills, grocery shopping, or anything else, you are entitled to this assistance and should not feel any guilt in taking it. This is one of the reasons you paid those taxes throughout your working life.

In addition to the help provided from the state and discounts from businesses, you deserve support from your ex. Even if you ended the relationship acrimoniously, the children remain a joint responsibility.  If you can’t work this out between you, legal advisors are there to help. In the meantime, nonprofit credit counselors can assist with other decisions.

Myth 2: Poor Credit = No Hope

When you become a single parent, it is very easy to fall behind on bills. Sadly, it only takes a short amount of time for your credit rating to be badly hit. While you should make the necessary moves to start repairing that broken score, it will take some time to get back to where you once were. However, that doesn’t have to stop you from gaining temporary relief. Let’s face it: the immediate future is where most of those problems lie anyway.

Adjusting to life as a single parent can take a few months. Small pay day loans can help you get through those difficulties even when your credit score is poor. It may be that you can survive without that support. Nonetheless, knowing that the safety net is there can make a world of difference to your frame of mind. During this time, peace of mind is probably the most important weapon at your disposal.

Myth 3: Luxuries are Off Limits

 As a single parent facing financial fears, getting your priorities in order is essential. Repaying debts and keeping the household afloat should be job one. However, it’s equally important to remember that life is for living, too. You and your children deserve happiness, which is why it’s vital that you avoid overlooking the need for treats.

With a little creative thinking, it’s still possible to take a winning vacation when funds are a little tight. Otherwise, camping trips and cheap days out, including walks and picnics, can be equally fun. First and foremost, it’s a key aspect of giving your children the upbringing that they deserve. In reality, that special time together is what will get you through the tough emotional patches also. You are doing a great job, and those magical moments are your just rewards. Do not forget it.

 Myth 4: Working Is Pointless

Being a single parent does throw a spanner into the works regarding your career. Time constraints mean that you’ll either need to work part-time hours or hire a babysitter. Meanwhile, working may sometimes force you to sacrifice certain entitlements. In turn, this can leave you feeling that working long hours for minimal financial gain offers very little benefit. It’s not all about finance, though, and the emotional rewards and setting an example for the kids should not be ignored.

Depending on your location, it may be possible to find alternative employment that doesn’t impact entitlements. This means that you’ll see the full financial rewards of hard work. Otherwise, you could look at the prospect of starting a home-based company. There are thousands of inspirational single parents out there who have done the same. Whatever you do, losing that ambition altogether is never the solution.

Myth 5:  Small Savings Are Futile

If money is tight, regardless of your relationship status, you often enter panic mode. Therefore, you’ll almost certainly try to find the big changes that could generate huge financial influences. While these elements are vital, you must also acknowledge that the small switches often make the greatest impact. This is especially true when it comes to spending.   

Trade your contract cell phone for a Pay-As-Yo-Go deal. Remove your expensive TV package and buy a Netflix subscription instead. Run a price comparison on electricity bills or home insurance quotes. Those simple tricks may not feel hugely significant on their own. Cumulatively, though, they can completely transform your financial health. Better still, those saving habits will follow you for the rest of your life.   

Myth 6:  The House Is Everything

Keeping hold of assets clearly has advantages, and possessions don’t come more valuable than the home. However, it’s only a property, and downsizing isn’t the end of the world by any means. Paying extraordinary running costs when you could be just as happy in a smaller space is very foolish. Besides, starting a new chapter can often be emotionally attractive for newly single parents.

The newer, smaller property might not boast the same financial value. But the capital this move frees up could make all the difference as you aim to keep the kids fed, clothed, and happy. There’s nothing wrong with staying in the old marital home if you can afford to. Ultimately, though, suffering for the sake of a few bricks is not the answer. There are far more important things in life, and seeing your children smile is one of them.

Source for calculator Image: above.

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Family Finance Failures: Where Could You Be Going Wrong?

contributed post

Being a single parent often means that every decision for the family is solely on one pair of shoulders, and it can be quite overwhelming and pressure to ensure that we make the best decision for all concerned. Finances are just some of those burdens and decisions we all have to face, whether a single parent or not, and often they can be depressing as well as making us feel like we are scratching for every dime we have. But, it doesn’t have to be this way. We all have family finance failures, and in some cases, we can continue to make the mistakes over and over again. I thought I would share with you some of the most common issues any one of us can face, and hopefully offer you a few tips to help you take steps to financial success.

It can all start with you

Often some of the bigger financial failures we can all experience start with us, and mostly that can mean debt. However, debt isn’t always a bad thing; but if it isn’t manageable, then it could be causing more harm than good to your credit profile. If you feel that your financial past is significantly impacting your financial future, then it may be time to take action and seek the help from websites like creditrepair.company. Specialists in the field can help to repair any damage to your history that can then ultimately help you move forward with your finances, offering you a little breathing space with your outgoings.

Now let’s tackle any debt we have

Once your credit file is on the mend, it is always worth placing a huge focus on any debts you may have. Of course, many of us can have a large debt like a mortgage; but this focus should be more on the smaller things like personal loans and credit cards. The more you have, the more interest you are paying; and in many cases, the rate can vary from one credit account to another. Look at your bills and focus on paying off the one that costs the most money, while still keeping up repayments with the others. Reducing the debt will ultimately free up income on a month by month basis. If you have the option, consider consolidating all of your debt into one monthly payment like a loan. A simple repayment plan with one lot of interest being charged.

Are we paying too much for our regular bills?

All of us are happy to pay out for the bills we need to run a home or keep us going, such as energy bills or insurance policies. But are we paying too much? When was the last time you checked a competitor company to see what they were offering? We can all get complacent with our bills, but what we fail to see is that loyalty doesn’t always pay off. So it is important to ensure that you compare other companies and switch providers if you can pay less for the same thing. It’s a no-brainer, and this one exercise can significantly reduce your outgoings.

I hope that this helps you to overcome some of the family finance failures we can all be dealing with.

calculator photo source

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