How to Survive Financially as a Single Mom

Jul 28, 2023 | Education, Families

Being a mom is a hard job that isn’t adequately rewarded. Each mom wants to give all the best to their baby. But living as a single mom makes it several times more difficult to raise a child. According to the latest data, nearly 31% of families headed by single mothers are poor, while 24% are food insecure. This has a negative impact on both the quality of life and mental health.

However, there are some options that can help single moms deal with this unbearable financial burden they face after giving birth to a child. This guide will provide you with tips on how to survive financially as a single mom with no job.

How Do Single Moms Survive Financially?

Although money can’t buy happiness, it’s still an important part of our lives. When you give birth to another person with their needs you can’t ignore, you typically understand it clearly. A temporary break from work and the lack of support from the second parent can make your financial life more challenging. Even if you receive alimony or child benefits, it’s not always enough to cover all your needs and mandatory expenses. To make it possible to survive financially, single moms usually follow three common steps: changing financial behavior, reducing expenses, and starting budgeting.

There are various financing programs available to single mothers. One of the most popular options is a credit card that a single parent can use to buy essentials. Additionally, multiple lenders now offer emergency cash for single moms, allowing them to get extra money even with no job and bad credit. However, such loan products can negatively impact a single mom budget due to costly interest rates. Thus, they should be used only as a last resort and on the condition that you can guarantee on-time repayment.

Keep in mind that loans can make your financial situation worse and result in a debt snowball, especially if you already experience money problems. Therefore, it’s better to consider other options available without going into debt.

10 Tips on How to Survive as a Single Mom Struggling Financially

Here are the 10 most important financial tips a single mother should follow to improve their financial future.

1. Change Your Financial Habits

To attract more money in your life, you need to start doing things you probably haven’t done before. Reviewing your spending habits can help you determine what you should start from. When you recognize your past financial mistakes, it will be easier for you to create a new plan that excludes them. Track the way you spend money and ask yourself what you can do to be more responsible when it comes to your finances. Open a bank account and try not to carry a lot of cash, as it’s easier to overspend. Avoid going into debt unless it’s an emergency, and live within your means. All these will help you take the first step toward better financial health.

2. Try New Budgeting Methods

Financial planning is critical to surviving financially for a single mom. When you give each dollar a name, it will help you avoid emotional spending or buying unnecessary items. First, you need to calculate all the money you receive on a monthly basis and list major expense categories that must be covered with your income. They may include rent, utilities, groceries, transportation, building an emergency fund, and more. Then, allocate your income between each category so that you end up with a zero balance after covering each of them.

You can also try following the 50/30/20 rule when you put 50% of your income toward your needs, 30% toward wants, and 20% toward savings. Just make sure the method you choose suits your current situation and will be relatively easy to stick to.

3. Cut off Your Expenses

Of course, not all expense categories can be cut down. Single parents have a lot to pay for, and sacrificing the quality of life is not always the best idea. However, you can list all your expenses based on your spending within the last few months and categorize them. Then, determine those you can easily do without. This will help you free up some money that can be saved or spent on other essential items.

4. Move Somewhere More Affordable

Finding affordable housing can help you save significantly and afford more in other spheres of life. Consider moving to an area with lower accommodation costs or simply find a smaller house in your region, if possible. Moving to the suburbs is a smart way to save money for citizens of the most expensive US cities, such as New York, Boston, Washington, or San Francisco. However, you need to take into account increasing travel time and costs of transportation to ensure this step is worth taking. It’s especially true for those who work or study in the city.

5. Get Health and Life Insurance

Getting insurance can help you save money in the long run or even prevent potential financial problems if the worst happens. Life insurance can help you rest assured your family will survive financially if you suddenly pass away. Health insurance will help you cover the costs of preventive or emergency treatment for you and your children. Although not all procedures can be covered by your insurance plan, it can still reduce the amount of out-of-pocket medical expenses.

6. Consider Ways to Increase Your Income

Although you may have a lot to do and think about as a single mom, there are still some options you can try to earn more money. Some of them don’t even require you to leave your home. You can make money online by taking surveys, becoming a proofreader, copywriter, social media manager, or visual assistant. Among other side gigs available to single moms are pet sitting, tutoring, blogging, or renting spare space. Just choose the one that suits you in terms of time and skills you have. Sometimes spending just a few hours a day on a side hustle can change your financial situation for the better.

7. Stick to Your Financial Goals

You will be more motivated and focused when you will know what you’re doing this for. Thus, besides thinking about your rent payments and grocery bills, which are critical expense categories, you also need to set clear short-term and long-term financial goals. This way, it will be easier for you to determine what you need to do to reach them.

Just remember that even starting small is better than stagnating. Any bold goal can be divided into multiple small steps. This will help you gradually get closer to what you want without being focused on the final goal, which may seem intimidating and unattainable from your current point.

8. Start Investing

Many people think it’s impossible to invest money on a low budget. However, even $50 or $100 saved each month can help you build wealth over time if you know how to make your money work for you. When you invest money, you lay a strong foundation for your financial future. If you’re a newbie, start by putting money in a high-yield savings account. Then, you can buy assets that will generate passive income.

Just keep in mind that high-risk investment is not an option for you until you delve deeper into investment strategies and understand how they work. Although higher risks come with higher returns, it also requires certain skills and expertise. Otherwise, you’ll lose your money.

9. File Tax Returns

Filing your taxes properly is quite important. First, you will avoid unpleasant consequences that come with inaccurate filing. Second, you will be able to get certain tax benefits for a single mom. Some options available to single mothers include Child Tax Credit, Earned Income Tax Credit, and Child and Dependant Care Credit.

10. Seek Help from the Government

If you struggle to survive financially as a single mom, bear in mind that you don’t need to fight alone. There are multiple programs backed by the government or non-profit organizations that participate in a support system for single mothers. Here are some institutions you can turn to for much-needed assistance:

  • Department of Health and Human Services;
  • Department of Housing and Urban Development;
  • Department of Agriculture.

Financial Assistance Programs Available to a Single Mom Starting Over Low Income

If you need help as a single parent, don’t be afraid to ask for it. Single mothers and low-income families can access several federal programs. Some of them provide food assistance, while others offer affordable housing or healthcare services.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

SNAP is a food assistance program that is backed by the US Department of Agriculture. It provides low-income single mothers and families with food stamps. They look like electronic cards which you can use to get food in participating grocery stores.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

TANF is a program that provides eligible families with financial assistance. You will get supporting monthly cash payments that can be used toward your family needs. The amount will be determined based on your income. Additionally, the program helps single parents with employment.


Medicaid is a program that sets strict maximum income requirements. Those single-parent families that meet them can get low-cost or free medical insurance. Medicaid provides coverage for both children and adults. The exact maximum income amount depends on your state of residence.

Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

CHIP can be an easier-to-qualify alternative to Medicaid for single parents whose income exceeds their state Medicaid requirements. Coverage here is limited, but it can still be a great option for low-income single moms who need low-cost or free medical treatment for their children. Coverages for adults are not provided.

Child Care Programs for Single Mothers

If you’re a single mother who works or attends a college, you can get coverage of a portion of child care costs within this program. The amount is calculated based on your monthly gross income and family size.

Housing Assistance

There are several programs backed by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. One of them, named the HUD Public Housing program, can help single mothers rent government-owned properties at affordable prices. Another one, which is known as the Section 8 Housing Program, provides coverage for properties rented from eligible private landlords.

Bottom Line

Single-parent families are often in vulnerable positions in terms of financial aspects. However, there are several tips on how to survive financially as a single mom. By following them, you can raise a family without falling into poverty.

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