Practical Advice To Survive (And Thrive) Financially As A Single Mom

If you’re a single mom, you know just how difficult it can be to raise a family without much support. According to the US Census Bureau, as of 2021, ~30% of single mothers remain jobless for the entire year. And while the other 70% manage to hold down jobs, the gender pay gap is there to ensure that they’re only making about 82 cents on the dollar when compared to men. Given this, it’s not surprising that many single mothers wonder how exactly they can manage to survive financially.

Even in two-parent households, raising children can be a full-time job—and when you’re also carrying the burden of being the only provider, it’s easy to succumb to anxiety and stress. But as important as it is that you’re doing all you can to take care of your family, it’s also important that you’re doing all you can to take care of yourself so you don’t buckle under the pressure.  

In this article, we’ll give you some tips on things you can do to help you survive financially as a single mom. By the end you should hopefully have some peace of mind as well as have a solid game plan for how to tackle the days and weeks ahead!


While it can feel overwhelming to try and tackle being the sole provider in your family top of the endless demands of being there for your children, there are options out there that you can utilize to your advantage to help you provide financially for your family. 

You can do this in a few different ways, but to help you get started, we recommend the following:

  • Learn How To Create A Budget
  • Invest In A Budget Planner
  • Get a Second Job or Start a Side Hustle
  • Apply for Government Benefits

In the following sections, we’ll talk about each of these topics a bit more in-depth.

Learn How To Create A Budget

After a certain point in your life—and perhaps even moreso once you start having children—one of the best things you can do to help you navigate your financial life is by learning to make a stick to a budget

As a single parent, it’s up to you and you alone to make sure that your entire family’s needs are met, and this means learning how to account for your money as well as your spending habits so you know where your money tends to go every month. This is not something that will come naturally to most people, but with a little time and effort, it can go a long way in helping you stretch your income every month. 

To begin, you want to take the amount of money you have coming in every month and subtract the reoccurring expenses you already know that money has to go towards—things like rent, food, the electricity bill, your cell phone bill, and so on. Once you know those needs have been met and those funds allocated appropriately, you can use any left over funds on other things, like taking the kids somewhere fun for a night or putting it away for emergencies. 

There are a lot of budgeting methods out there today, from the simple pen and paper method to the envelope method, as well as a number of useful apps like Mint and GoodBudget, to name just a few. 

Whatever method you choose, starting to budget your finances is the first step you should take to get a better handle on your finances as a single parent. 

Invest In A Budget Planner

You remember planners, right? Those little notebooks we all received in school that we would write down our homework assignments in to help us keep track of them? 

Well, it turns out that those little things continue to be useful long after we’ve finished with school. Though you may no longer need them for homework, they’re still very useful for a myriad of other things, such as planning out your weekly activities—or for doing things like managing your finances! 

Budget Planners are books specifically designed to help you map out and keep track of your weekly or monthly budget. When you first create your new budget, it can be difficult to keep track of things like your receipts as well as days when certain bills are due. This is where is can be beneficial to have all of your budgeting items together in one place.

With the right planner, you can not only learn how to survive financially but finds ways to finally get on top of your finances. A good planner will likely have places for you to write down your monthly goals, such as ways to pay down debt to improve your credit, as well as input reminders of upcoming purchases, bills and payments. During the month you can also more easily track all of your day-to-day spending, as well as document the days you get paid so you know how long a paycheck will last you!

At the end of the month, you’ll be able to review the past month and learn how you might be able to improve things going forward.

Get a Second Job or Start A Side Hustle

According to a 2016 study, over 4.3 million women work multiple jobs to make ends meet. If you’re one of these women and you also know the joys and struggles of raising a family, you’re in good company. 

While it can definitely be overwhelming to try and tackle working two jobs on top of the endless demands of being there for your children, it is one of the best ways to make sure you’re earning enough money every month to take care of yourself and your kids. 

This doesn’t necessarily have to mean working harder either, per sé. There are plenty of part-time jobs out there that would allow you to still be home with your kids if that’s where you’d prefer to spend your time instead of at a traditional job. Things like content and article writing, over the phone customer service representatives, and data entry jobs usually involve working from home on your computer, allowing you to still be available for your kids if they need you, but using your time at home wisely to make extra cash.

If that’s not your thing, you could always start driving for rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft or take a crack at delivering food with DoorDash. As long as you have a car in good working condition, you can fit these side hustles in on your time and work them whenever you feel the need to! 

Apply for Government Benefits

If you’re working a lot and find that you’re still struggling to provide for your family, there are government programs out there that are designed to help single parents support their children financially. 

Things like SNAP benefits as well as the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (or TANF) Program can provide monthly funds to help you cover the cost of things like food, shelter, clothing, and transportation costs. 

To apply, you’ll need to first contact your local state agency and fill out their application, which usually entails listing out your monthly income as well as your expenses (another instance where keeping a budget can be beneficial!). 

From there, as long as your income falls within certain requirements, your welfare agency will use your information and circumstances to calculate a monthly award which you will then receive on a certain day every month on an Electronic Benefits Transfer (or EBT) card. You will then be able to use those funds to make purchases just as you would with a normal debit card.

It should be noted that while TANF benefits can be used to cover a variety of costs associated with raising your children, SNAP benefits can only be used to purchase edible food items.


While it may seem overwhelming, and sometimes even impossible, to stay on top of your finances in order to survive as a single parent—it is by no means impossible!

If you learn how to do things like create and stick to a monthly budget, generate extra income from a side job, and explore options like government assistance programs that are specifically designed to help you afford basic necessities for your kids, you’ll likely find your dollars go way farther month-to-month—and you may even find that you have money left over to put away for things like emergencies or a family vacation!

With the proper planning and boundaries in place, you’ll likely find that you’re capable of doing much more than you realize. 

Though it may be difficult to get in the habit at first, learning how to effectively manage and account for your finances can greatly help in reducing stress. Not only does it help keep you accountable for your financial commitments, it also shows you how much you spend on certain items as well as where you can usually afford to fit in other priorities when needed.

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