How To Live On A Single Mom Budget

Budgeting as a single mom offers a lot of unique and difficult challenges

Budgeting is difficult even as an individual but when you have a family to support, it becomes imperative. I live in a large city with my daughter as a single mom and every single day, I learn that pinching pennies is key. There are many sacrifices that have to be made in order to make sure that my daughter can enjoy the activities that families with two working parents can give their children.

If you are on a budget, a great way to make things work is to look into the incentives that are available to low income families.

After getting out of school and beginning my career, looking at my bank account was similar to staring down a black hole. In other words, I needed to get creative with my budget. I decided to tuck my pride away and reached out to the variety of programs that are offered to Canadians if you have a low income.

Toronto has a great recreational subsidy program called the “welcome policy”. This incentive allows for $514 worth of recreation for children, and $239 for adults. We were approved within a month and my daughter has been able to take part in two dance classes, swim lessons and is signed up for t-ball this summer.

In addition to reaching out to appropriate resources and free activities, not getting into the habit of purchasing toys for my daughter also helps lower our expenses. Instead of buying useless items on a consistent basis, we do a lot of pretend play and crafting together. Crafts are a relatively inexpensive way to promote creativity and bonding with my daughter. We also make use of the city as a big playground for adventures. Walks, parks and wanderings provide a lot of entertainment for us.

Using lending libraries has also helped keep her toy and book collection fresh. We have a weekly visit to the library and both of us enjoy getting books out and reading new stories every night.

Toy lending libraries are also a great way to keep things fresh. We rent a variety of larger toys and it gives me an idea of what kinds of things she really likes to play with. By seeing whether she prefers a bike or a scooter, I know which to buy if I were to make a larger purchase later. Taking advantage of kids’ bike trade-in programs—which happen in spring in most cities—also helps to keep her involved in fun activities without breaking the bank.

This is not to say I’m a budgeting saint and I never spend money. I allot a specific weekly budget and stick to it. We have preferred small treats to keep things exciting, a coffee for me and a juice for her. I really try to help her understand the difference between treats and expectations though which seems to help her not ask for juice several times a day but instead she celebrates it as a speciality.

Budgeting helps us to see what is truly important for our family. For my daughter and me, it is more about how we spend our time together than how much we spend and it makes me believe that our limited budget is truly a blessing in disguise. 

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