How Single Parents Can Make it Through The Holidays Financially

Single parent financially during holidays with child

The festive season is a wonderful one but it is also an expensive event.  Many families find it puts a big drain on the pocket book, but single parents find that its financial effects can have much longer repercussions.

A single parent only has half the money to count on in most cases yet is faced with the same festive expenses that a couple does.   The kids want the same things as those that are in a home with both parents. The entertainment and other festivities hold the same costs.

Most know that raising children does not come cheap and it has been estimated that to raise a child from birth that turned 18 by the year of 2013 cost about $245,000 per child.

One of the keys for the single parent making it through the festive season unscathed is to have a budget. Not just for this time of year but from the time they found themselves being a single parent. The goal is to budget to the point where you are spending less than what you have coming in. It means learning something about the basics of money.  Knowing what the fixed expenses are is the starting point. These you cannot change and you have to count on them increasing in costs as time progresses.

Saving no matter how little out of each source of income on a regular basis is another important step. Having an emergency fund to rely on is important for security and stability. If you start a small monthly contingency fund just for the festive season, then you will have the extra money you need each year instead of trying to meet the demands during the one month that Christmas occurs in.

Being involved with the kids throughout the year by spending time with them and participating in activities that cost very little, will remove some of the demands the kids will have for toys and items that they view as entertainment.   It will change their expectations.

All too often the single parents feel guilty about their kids only having one parent so they try to make up for it by showering them with gifts, or buying whatever they ask for so they are not denied anything that is materialistic.  This forms a bad pattern for the kids, whereas if this is a habit that is not formed then it makes it much easier around the festive season to purchase a limited amount of gifts.

Becoming creative when it comes to entertaining is another way of really cutting down the expenses.  Instead of taking on the role of cooking the entire Christmas dinner which can cost a small fortune, make it into a pot luck.  One person does the turkey and all the other guests bring one dish.   Not only does this dramatically cut down the expenses, but it saves a whole lot of time from one person being stuck in the kitchen all day. Everyone gets more time to spend with the family, for which there is no price tag that can be placed on this type of precious time.


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Sam Seidman, CPA, CA, LPA
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Toronto, Ontario
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