Being a single parent is tough enough as it is; while some mothers and fathers do choose to bring up a little one on their own, either through adoption or insemination (be it artificial or natural), for most it’s usually either not a choice, or a very delicate one. Many parents are left raising children on their own, either following a divorce or the death of their spouse. Add to this inevitable cause for worry the financial regards of child rearing and you’ll be coming up with a picture that was none that bright to begin with. As if to make matters worse, recent budget cuts in Australia have brought on two reforms which will take a heavy toll on the budget of mono-parental family units Down Under.
On the one hand, single parents whose youngest children have turned or will turn eight are now no longer assisted through the Parenting Payment Program. Under this program, they would receive 50 hours of job counseling and would only have to wait for a maximum of thirteen weeks before they were placed on the fast track to help them get a new job. Following the country’s employment services system reform, which came into force on July 1, 2012, however, single parents whose youngest children have turned eight will be switched over to the Newstart program. The measure, which aims to save the Australian budget $780 million over the coming four years, means that parents now only get 25 hours of professional assistance, $60 to $100 less per week, and risk a 26 week wait before accessing employment help. Naturally, single parents’ groups across the country rallied up and picketed in dismay—one group in Canberra even managed to secure a negotiation meeting with members of the federal parliament.
Beyond the natural sense of dissent, there are other measures that single parents in Australia can resort to, in order to secure their children’s and their own welfare. Here are some of the most valuable tips we collected from personal finance experts.
- Know where you stand. In order to work out where you can afford to make a budget cut, if one is in order, you need to know all the minute details of your financial situation. First off, figure out how much you’re spending on a regular basis. Go beyond current bills and tuition costs; take a look at insurance premiums, maintenance costs per year for all assets (home, car). Recently single parents might find it difficult to take long-term financial decisions right away and being informed doesn’t automatically imply you’ll need to make up your mind within days, or even weeks. But it pays to know what money is coming in and what’s going out.
- Plan, plan, plan. Building a sound financial plan is nowhere near as complicated as it may seem. All one needs to do is work out three key areas: assets, income (salaries, investments), and costs (living expenses, as well as debt). The next step is to figure out how much money you need per week, month, and year. If you find out you can afford to save, no matter how small the amount, don’t hesitate to do so – online savings and term deposit accounts, as offered on http://www.bankwest.com.au/personal/savings-term-deposits/savings-term-deposits-overview/, now come with some advantageous offers, which you might want to consider.
- Rethink yourself. One of the main skills that single parents struggle with, at least at the beginning of their road down a new life path is good old ‘thinking outside the box’. Shopping savvy tips and tricks, such as buying in bulk, thrifting, and negotiating on pricier purchases will definitely give one the upper hand in such a situation. Likewise, capitalizing on a skill or hobby will also go a long way. Like handicrafts? Got a creative hobby? The Internet is teeming with opportunities to turn them into an alternative source of income.