Single parents everywhere have it rough, and as much as we consider the plight of the single mom, single dads are often overlooked. What’s more, there are more single dads than there used to be. If you look at research conducted by the Pew Research Center, the number of homes led by a single dad has increased dramatically, from 300,000 in 1960 to more than 2.6 million in 2011.
Since then, that number has continued to grow, as have the challenges single dads face. Oftentimes, dads are portrayed as being synonymous with a superhero, but sometimes you have an off day and your super powers just don’t seem to be working.
For those days when you can’t find your superhero cape, check out these 5 financial tips to overcome some of the most common challenges associated with being a single dad.
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#1 Make a budget
It should come as no surprise to you that raising one or more children comes with a pretty hefty price tag. While the happiness they bring is well worth it, that happiness doesn’t pay the bills or buy groceries. As a single dad, it is up to you to provide for your children, and it is a task that can seem daunting and downright impossible. This is where the principles we were taught or even painstakingly experienced come into play – setting a budget.
#2 Track your spending and income
Keep in mind that creating a budget goes much further than simply setting a dollar amount to stick to. Take a look at the bills you have coming in each month, and use an app like Acorns or Mint to track spending categories, income, bills, flexible spending, and retirement and college savings. Breaking it down into days rather than weeks might make reality a little harsher, but it will certainly help to keep you in check. That also includes making a spending plan to prioritize sports and activities for each child, clothing and hobbies, and getting the most out of meals and groceries.
#3 Evaluate your day job
Providing for your children means both sufficient income and sufficient time. But if money is tight, how do you manage both? There’s also a cost to childcare that varies state to state on average. Most elementary schools offer affordable after school clubs (babysitting). Or can you work out a neighbor swap where you can swap childcare duties after school and weekends. A popular option in the last year is working from home. More and more businesses are realizing it works. Check out the top paying work from home jobs. It might offer the flexibility you need for school pick up and making bank.
#4 Get your kids involved
If your kids are toddler or school age, they can certainly start the conversation about spending: what is a want vs a need? How will the family will save for special activities or events like camp, a big vacation, a special sport, or holiday? Learn how to talk to your kids about money, and get them on board for the family goals.
#5 Set expectations
Deep down we all want to be Superman and give our kids everything they want. That is why we put so much pressure on ourselves. What with our own inherent need to be perfect and the expectations set forth by others, The Spruce points out that it can seem as though we are never living up to the standards being set for ourselves. Setting expectations can change a point of view for us Dads as well as for the kids. Set expectations for your kids when it comes to spending as well. They will learn your spending routine and the reality that no means no.
Being a single dad comes with obstacles, but there isn’t anything you can’t overcome. Put the superhero cape in the closet for a rainy day, and focus on meeting the challenges you face head on as a civilian navigating the world of single parenting one day at a time.
By Josh Moore of Diaperdads.org
Josh Moore is founder of diaperdads.org. Parenting is often a learn-as-you-go experience, but it’s nice to have some backup when you truly feel like you have no clue what you’re doing. That’s when Josh decided to create the blog Diaper Dads to give all the dads out there the credit they deserve and some much needed advice when life seems consumed with diapers, fruit pouches, and tantrums.