How I budget as a Single Mom

I know many single moms can relate to the struggle with money, so today I am sharing how I budget my household with only my income.

As a single mom, I have to be very careful about my spending habits. I need to know where I spend every dollar in order to make it last longer. That’s because any decision I make with my money either sets me up for success or failure. There is a very small margin for error or emotional spending, so making sure I have my priorities in check is vital to my family’s success.

When I first started budgeting, I tried different apps and worksheets . Some of them were good, but many times had nothing to do with my type of lifestyle, and would only end up being too complicated to keep up with.

For the past couple of years now, I’ve been using the app Everydollar.com and following Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps program. No, this is in no way advertised or sponsored; I just simply think it’s a really cool app and method to get anyone’s spending under control.

So here’s what I include in my monthly budget:

The categories are follows:

Income
Giving
Savings
Food
Housing
Bills
Transportation
Health
Insurance
Clothing & Personal Care
Lifestyle
Misc
Gifts
Debt

Tip: Track every expense, regardless of how small the expense is. Even coffee every morning for $2.00 may feel like a small expense, and unnecessary to track, but small expenses add up and can make all the difference in your monthly budget.

Income

My income goes at the top of the list. In the income area I add my checks, bonus, overtime pay, and any side business income, which varies from month to month.

  • Check #1
  • Check #2
  • Bonus & OT
  • Side Business

Giving

Giving is something that I added as part of my budget in the last couple of years after being able to get out of debt. I find it a great way to show gratitude and teach my teen the same.

Saving

For my saving category I try to keep it very simple. My 401k comes out automatically, Therefore, I only keep two other categories. I have an emergency fund (in case of emergencies or unemployment) and a rainy day savings ( for car repairs, or any small unexpected expenses).

  • Emergency fund
  • Rainy Day Savings

Food

I have seen many budgets that keep “eating out” as part of entertainment, however I decided to keep it under the food category. Besides my Starbucks addiction/ obssesion, my teen and I mostly cook at home and prep meals, so the percentage we use to eat out is small.

  • Groceries
  • School lunch
  • Eating out

Housing

My housing costs are rent only. But if you pay HOA or have home repairs this might be a good place to add those expenses.

  • Rent

Bills

I’ve seen budgets that list cell phone and internet under entertainment. I add it under bills as a necessity since I use them for side businesses. This category usually describes my monthly bills, such as electricity, water, trash, sewer, and internet.

  • Electricity
  • Water
  • Trash & Sewer
  • Internet & cell

Transportation

Transportation has been a big part of my expenses. Dropping of my teen at school every morning, and picking him up, driving to work, going to church and running errands all quickly adds up. Incuded here are gas, oil changes and other expenses such as tags and registration.

  • Gas
  • Oil change
  • Tags & Registration

Health

We don’t get sick too often (knock on wood), but if we do and I have to buy medicine or pay for doctor visits, it is added under the health category. So things like co-pays, medicine, vitamins are all added here.

  • Vitamins
  • Dr. Visits
  • Medicine

Insurance

I have medical and life insurance deducted from my checks. However, if that is an expense you have separately, you may want to add it under this category. You can also include your auto insurance, renter insurance or any other insurance type you have.

  • Auto Insurance
  • Renters Insurance

Clothing And Personal Care

My family is consisted of two people, my teen and I. So this expense is usually small. Therefore I decided to combine them. I usually add things like uniforms and back to school clothes, any items for myself and all my personal care expenses like haircuts, shampoo, makeup and anything else.

  • Back to School
  • Uniforms
  • Personal hygiene Products

Lifestyle

Lifestyle is the category I keep for non necessities. The “wants vs the needs,” and these are bills I know I can cut back on case of an emergency. They’re the first to go if I need to save more money. Usually, it’s entertainment or what I call “fun” things like going to the movies, drinks with friends, a PlayStation membership for my son, Netflix, the gym, my teen’s allowance and any personal development stuff like books, seminars and courses.

  • Netflix or cable
  • Gym & Playstation Membership
  • Teen’s allowance
  • Books etc

Miscellaneous

Because it is nearly impossible to plan for everything that can happen, I have found this category extremely helpful to have for one-time expenses. This month I had to buy batteries for our scale. That is not a recurring expense so I added it under misc.

Gifts

The Gift category is only added in for the months it is needed. So any special holidays and birthdays.

  • Birthday
  • Holidays

Debt Payoff

I currently have no outstanding debt. However, a couple of years ago, I would add my credit cards, medical bills and collections to this category.

  • Credit cards
  • Personal Loans
  • Debt payoff

These are all my personal budget categories as a single mom. Some categories I have seen other moms add include: day care, formula, pampers etc. You can definitely adjust your categories depending on your needs.

Tips For Creating An Effective Budget
While everyone’s budget will be different, here are some helpful tip that will work for any budget and lifestyle. First, you’ll want to keep things simple and realistic. Don’t make anything too complicated because it won’t be easy to follow and you’ll find yourself abandoning it within a few weeks. Also, it needs to be realistic, so even though you’d like to save a ton of money, it might be better to use extra funds to pay down debt.

Always create a new budget at the beginning of each new month. This is where the birthdays and holidays category comes into play. You’ll want to make sure you have enough funds to cover these extra expenses for your family. Also, as the end of each month, it’s good to take the time and review your previous month’s budget before creating the new one. This will help you find ways to cut back on unnecessary expenses and save more money.

Budgeting isn’t always easy for single moms, but it’s very important that you know where you money is going. Trust me when I say, if I was able to get out of debt and control my spending habits so can you. You want to make sure that your family is stable and that you cover the necessities before you start dishing out money for entertainment and lifestyle expenses!

As always, leave a comment down below if you relate to this post or have tips on how to continue to help us grow into better moms and women! Oh, and please give this a share if you enjoyed this post.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Colline says:

    This can apply to stay at home moms too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You’ve made a complicated subject very simple and straightforward. And I totally agree, the important word is ‘realistic’. I’m on a tight budget since my husband left in February – but I also know that if I buy no cookies, no pizza and no alcohol at all, my budget won’t last five minutes. So I budget for some small treats, I look forward to them, and I enjoy them.

    Like

    1. Thank you❤ I absolutely agree, budgeting seems complex, but it can become easy to manage as long we keep it realistic.

      Like

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