BOSTON (CBS) – According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are nearly 12 million single parents in America. This nation’s almost 10 million single moms and nearly 2 million single dads face financial challenges and decisions that most dual-parent families don’t have to consider.

So often we start as a couple, have one or two children and then the blush is off the rose and we divorce.

Fifty percent of marriages still end in divorce. Certainly as a single parent you need to rethink your goals. Where there were two incomes there is now one and perhaps child support. Twenty million kids are living in a home with a single parent.

It is very easy for me to take the high road here and start to talk about all of things you need to do but if you are living paycheck to paycheck or have credit card debt you can’t commit to saving and investing. So let’s start with the basics here.

The most common goals:

  • Get out of debt
  • Save for an emergency fund
  • Comfortable retirement so you don’t have to live with the kids
  • Send the kids to college just in case you have to live with them

Getting Out Of Debt:  This is your number one goal. Put together a plan and if need be get some help from Consumer Credit Counseling. Debt won’t allow you to achieve your other goals.

Save More:  Not easy to change your lifestyle but you may have to do things differently to have the other things in life you want. Small things can make a big difference. Try to save on everything you purchase. Cook more at home. Drive less. Shop less. Lower the thermostat in the winter and raise it in the summer so your AC is not going on all of the time.

Comfortable Retirement:  If you notice, I ranked this before college savings on purpose. There is no financial aid or scholarships available for your retirement. A gift you give your kids is your financial independence in retirement. I really do know how hard it is to save for retirement but even small amounts put away during your working years will benefit you in retirement.

Sending The Kids To College:  This is not an easy feat for a single parent. State universities and community colleges can make it more affordable. There is financial aid out there and work study programs.

Get the kids involved. This is an investment in their education and they should be responsible for some of the costs. The kids can take out loans and get a job. Learn as much as you can about financial aid before your kiddo is a junior in high school.


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