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Help with Debt: Strong Money Advice for Single Moms

There’s no end to the workload for a single mom: running your household, helping your kids with school work, shuttling them between activities and outings, keeping up with family and financial obligations, and of course, earning a living.

A lot of single moms feel the pressure to do everything themselves, and to do it perfectly. But the truth is, everyone needs help. When it comes to your finances — and especially your debt — it’s okay to ask for help.

Recent statistics show that single moms may have it harder than single dads, at least financially. In its 2018 study, The Economic Well-Being of Women in Canada, Statistics Canada reported that single moms make an average of $27,900 per year less than their male counterparts, meaning they may have to take on personal debt to cover expenses.

In celebration of International Women’s Day this month, we’re offering up advice, resources and tools to help single moms get help with their debt.

Why do women, on average, carry more debt than men?

In our 2018 Affordability Index poll, we learned that women tend to be disadvantaged when it comes to finances and affordability.

Women find it more difficult to save for retirement, save for a major purchase and afford transportation costs. Women also tend to carry heavier debt loads than men.

The Stats Canada report reveals that women are overrepresented in low-paying occupations, and may make lower wages than men in the same jobs.

And, women are more likely to take on more familial responsibility than men. Women who left the workforce to care for children may be challenged to earn as much as someone who has consistently been employed outside the home.

Single moms often have competing responsibilities that can prevent them from earning additional income. Turning to credit cards may allow them to make up monthly shortfalls — a short-term strategy that can lead to carrying high-interest debt over the long term.

That personal debt can result in a lack of financial security and increased stress.

Making changes to how you manage your finances can put you in control of your money and your security again. But too many changes at once can leave you feeling overwhelmed.

Start by making one or two focused changes in how you manage your money, such as:

Read blogs that help people with debt

There are numerous blogs written by women who have overcome or avoided debt and found ways to achieve their short- and long-term financial goals. Find bloggers who “speak your language” and learn what strategies they use to help them get and stay in the financial driver’s seat.

Half Banked, Canadian Desiree Odjick provides a savings goal strategy that single moms might find helpful. It provides a way to prioritize competing financial obligations and goals.

Increase your financial literacy

For a busy mom in a single-parent household, time is at a premium. But spending some hours honing your financial literacy skills can help you reduce debt.

Look for free seminars in Belleville that you can attend. Or choose one of these online budgeting webinars or workshops. Learn about budgeting, debt reduction and saving strategies as well as solutions that can help if you’re experiencing overwhelming debt. Consider meeting with a Licensed Insolvency Trustee (LIT). An LIT is a qualified professional who can help you understand debt reduction options and solutions.

Use online money management tools

There are apps that make financial management quick and simple once they’re set up. For example, Mint’s online and mobile budgeting tools help you track your spending and increase your savings while you pay down debt.

If you set up an app and find you’re not using it, it’s not working for you. Talk to friends and family, conduct more research and find something you’re comfortable using, even if it’s the old-fashioned cash in envelopes technique.

Look for ways to free up cash

Getting out of debt requires paying more than the minimum payment each month. If you can add to your income through a side job, that’s great.

If not, look for ways to create some wiggle room in your budget. For example, search for clothing or household necessities at thrift stores, or in online marketplaces before buying new. Keep track of your savings and put the cash you didn’t spend toward your unpaid credit card balances.

Single moms may have a more challenging time paying down debt, but it is doable. Find  the resources that can help with debt — online and in your community — to help you create a strong financial future for you and your children.

It can be hard to grow up feeling deprived due to lack of money. As Brianna Bell discusses over at Yummy Mummy Club, there are ways to ensure our children develop a healthy relationship with money and avoid needing help with debt, even when we have to prioritize our spending choices.

As a single mom, what are you doing to get help with debt? Tell us on Twitter. #LeaveDebtBehind #WomenAndMoney #ParentLife

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