As a single parent, when an emergency arises, we don’t have another adult to lean on, financially or emotionally. Sure, you’ve got your girlfriends (or guy friends) and your parents, and they’ll do all they can to help you, but you don’t have that life partner to turn to when the going gets rough.
Many single parents are living paycheck to paycheck – and barely making it – and feel that they’ve got no wiggle room in the budget for saving for emergencies. But even if your plans include baby steps, they really do add up over time. Sure, it may take you longer to get where you need to be, but as long as you’re taking action, you’ll get there eventually.
When you’re preparing for an emergency, you need to prepare on a few different fronts:
You want to have access to cash (or money in the bank) so you can continue to buy groceries, and make payments for other necessities like car and rent (or mortgage) payments, utilities, gas for your car, and other required payments.
Although it may seem like a daunting task to save money when you’re barely able to pay your bills, putting aside even $5 and $10 here and there eventually adds up. Bring your lunch to work or skip a meal out, and put that saved money into a savings account.Plus, as you pay off those credit cards, put some of that “saved” monthly payments towards another credit card bill, and put the rest towards your emergency fund.
Stock up on non-perishable foods as they go on sale. If you’ve got the freezer space, stock up on meats and veggies that you can freeze as well. Only buy what your family eats, though. This way, when your family has to rely on eating from the pantry and freezer, they’ll be eating foods they’re used to. For example, since I’m the only one of the 3 of us who likes peanut butter, while I try to have a few jars on hand, I won’t go crazy buying them, because they won’t get used up, even in an emergency. Have you ever tried to get your kids to eat foods they don’t like on a good day? It’s even more impossible when the stress levels are high because the bread winner is out of a job.
Putting $5 a week of your food budget towards stocking up for emergencies will allow you to eventually have several weeks’ or months’ worth of food when your money is funny. When you’re storing canned goods, they can be stored in closets, under beds, and even in the garage. If you can find a used freezer, you’ll have even more room to store frozen goods. My neighbor’s freezer is on his back porch and he’s able to take advantage of lots of great deals.
When money gets tight and you’re trying to figure out what you can cut out of the budget (You do have a budget, right?), one of the first expenses that people think to cut out is their insurance bill. Why? Because insurance isn’t usually just a small bill. Not having to pay insurance saves enough money for most people that they can buy a tank of gas or two.
But I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Insurance is not where you want to scrimp when you have a family and when you’re low on funds. If you own a vehicle, you need car insurance. If you’re living in a home, whether you’re buying or renting, you need homeowner’s insurance. If you’re breathing, you need life insurance. Once you turn 40, you should start looking at long-term care insurance.
I recently lost my job unexpectedly. One moment I had a job, and the next moment I didn’t. In December. Right before the holidays and my daughters’ birthdays. With an expensive surgery coming for my oldest daughter.
I had previously started to pay off bills and save a few dollars. Not a lot, I promise you. But enough to be able to say that we’ll make it through for a little while. Christmas won’t be “Christmas”, and with surgery on Christmas eve, it wouldn’t have been “Christmas” anyway. But, because I previously started to make preparations to save for emergencies, we’ll be okay.
What are you doing in your family to prepare for emergencies?
Disclosure: Post presented by Genworth Financial.