Finance

Tips for single dads to relieve the financial pressures

Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

Single fathers are increasingly struggling with debt according to a leading debt charity. The numbers of single fathers contacting StepChange Debt Charity for help with their debts quadrupled from 2007 to 2012.

Stepchangecharity logo 001Just over one thousand (1,049) single fathers contacted the charity in 2007, rising to 4,496 in 2012.
The charity says it’s a combination of failing relationships and the economic downturn that are contributing to this rise. A quarter (28.6 percent) of single fathers seeking help from the charity give relationship breakdown as the reason for their debt problem, while 20 percent cite redundancy and unemployment as the reason for their debt problem.

Here are five top tips to manage your finances to prevent debt problems in the future:

Create a budget

Creating a budget is the first step to be in control of your finances. Make a spread sheet of your family’s income and expenditure and break it down into categories – such as wages, everyday expenses, bills, debts, savings and occasional expenditure.

If your expenditure is more than your income, have a think about how you can cut back on non-essential purchases. It’s vital that your budget allows you to pay off any debt that you may have.

Make your money stretch

If you find that you’re struggling for money towards the end of the month, you may be interested in ways to maximise your income.

Changes to your wages and personal circumstances may entitle you to benefits; visit StepChange Debt Charity’s Benefit Checker to see if you’re eligible.

Many people pay more for their utility bills because they’re too busy or they think it’s too much hassle to search for a better deal. If you think you’re paying too much for your energy bills, visit StepChange Debt Charity’s utility switcher for any potential savings.

Live within your means

Children have fantastic persuasion skills when it comes to getting what they want. It’s important that your budget includes purchases for them. Don’t fall into the trap of spending more than you can afford. It’s vital that they understand the value of money and learn to save their pocket money for purchases they wish to buy.

Try to avoid buying expensive treats on credit, such as a family holiday or redecorating the house, if you know that it’ll take months paying it back. This will only add to your debt problems.

Ask your dad for advice

You may want to consider speaking to your dad or a different male role model to ask how they financially supported the family. Not only will they be more than happy to part with their advice and wisdom, but you may come away with options that you didn’t think of. 

Ask for support

Don’t bury your head in the sand thinking you can cope alone. There is no shame in having a debt problem. It can happen to anyone but it’s vital that you seek help as soon as possible.

Free debt help is available

If you’re struggling to manage your money, or if you’re relying on credit cards and loans to make ends meet, seek free, expert debt advice from StepChange Debt Charity.

You can speak to one of their advisors for free on 0800 138 1111 or visit Debt Remedy for free, anonymous online debt help.