Expecting the Unexpected
Making Finances Add up as a Single Parent
Are you pinching pennies so tightly you can hear Abe Lincoln cry for mercy? Does your week stretch out longer than your dollars? Adding up your finances as a single parent is tough enough, but the pressure can be especially taxing emotionally when your child is involved in school activities. Sometimes good news for your teen is dampened by the nagging question in our minds: How am I going to pay for this?
For example, Jennifer came home elated over the news that she was chosen to be a sophomore homecoming maid. Over the next week, she and her friends browsed through dress catalogs, talked about which salon did the best "up-do's," and examined all the cute shoes and accessories that would complete a fabulous look. When she finally presented me with a picture of the "perfect" dress, all I could think about was my $22 checking account balance and how I could pay for everything.
Many single parents are faced with similar dilemmas as their teens make the football team, cheerleading squad, band, or gymnastics team. Even mission trips can cause stress. We want to give our children the best, but just paying the basic bills stretches our pocketbooks to the max.
God tells us in James 1:5, If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him. So I began asking God for the wisdom to meet this need without crushing my daughter emotionally.
God answered my prayers by bringing a friend to mind. Lucy had three daughters who had graduated, but they were the same size as Jennifer and had gone to all the proms and school functions. Thrilled at Jennifer's good news, Lucy offered to let Jennifer "shop" in her store of several prom dresses for just the right one to wear on her big night. She even had shoes, handbags, and wraps to match!
We never could have afforded the one she picked; and because the dresses were so pretty, Jennifer never felt the least bit slighted. After Jennifer and her friends did her hair, makeup, and nails my daughter was the loveliest lady in the homecoming court?and none of it cost me a dime!
There are ways to make your finances add up by applying wisdom, balance, and discipline. Raising teenagers as a single parent can actually be exciting and fun. The key is not allowing the financial pressure to steal the joy of the moment. God tells us to seek Him first and He will provide the things we need (Matt. 6:33).
As a single parent, I had to be creative as well as practical. Listed below are a few ideas to help you with everyday living as well as those unexpected expenses you can expect when parenting teens.
Everyday Living Expenses
Teen Activity Expenses
To relieve some stress, budget in a little extra time just for you and your teen. An inexpensive way to communicate love to your teen is to invite the gang over for popcorn and a movie.
Always pray for wisdom in all your decisions. Be realistic and disciplined in your spending, and enjoy your teens while they are with you. Adulthood and independence are just a few short years away.
The Two Shall Become One
Blending two financial minds into one can be another challenge. Before two families blend, they need to be on the same page when it comes to money. Here are a few tips to make the merger go a little easier.