Budgeting for Single Moms

calculationIf you’re like most people, your financial situation is bound to change with divorce. Even with alimony or child support payments, you may not have the same income level you had while you were married—and your Raleigh divorce lawyer might recommend that you create a budget. Although it sounds like a major task, especially when you’re a busy single mom, it might be easier than you think.

Pen. Paper. Budget.
You don’t need a fancy computer program (although they can make tracking your expenses easier) to create a single-mom budget. All you really need is a pen, paper and a few minutes of quiet time to get started.

Step-by-Step Single Mom Budget
1. Start by listing all your mandatory expenses:
•    Rent or mortgage payments (if you haven’t moved out of your marital home and aren’t sure what your contributions should be, ask your Raleigh divorce lawyer for guidance)
•    Utilities (gas, electricity, phone, water and trash service)
•    Groceries
•    Vehicle upkeep and gas
•    Insurance
•    Kids’ club dues, sports fees or other extracurricular expenses
•    Kids’ school uniforms
•    Kids’ school lunches
•    Kids’ clothing and shoes
•    Child care expenses
•    Fees associated with your divorce or payments to your Raleigh divorce lawyer

2. List things that are fixed but can be altered:
•    General savings
•    Retirement savings
•    College savings

3. List things you could cut if you had to:
•    Internet
•    Cable or satellite TV
•    Dining out and entertainment
•    Personal expenses (like trips to the salon and shopping excursions) and pocket money
•    Charitable donations

4. Now add all your expenses together to figure out the minimum amount you must bring in to make ends meet.

5. In a separate column (or on a separate sheet), list your income sources:
•    Alimony payments you receive (if you haven’t started receiving alimony yet, do not count it yet)
•    Child support payments you receive (again, don’t count child support unless you’re already receiving it)
•    Work income
•    Income from investments
6. Add your sources of income together.

7. Subtract your expenses from your income to determine whether you need to make cuts or eliminate some spending.

Tweaking Your Spending
If your expenses are higher than your income, you’ll need to make a few adjustments. Can you cancel the movie channels on cable, switch to a less expensive cellphone plan or opt for a higher insurance deductible? Can you remind the kids to be more energy-conscious, take public transportation to save on gas or make kids’ lunches at home to save money?

Keep your Raleigh divorce lawyer updated on your financial situation. He or she will be able to help you get the support you and your kids deserve from your ex or point you toward helpful resources while you get back on your feet.