I’m 36 years old and I’m a solo parent to three children. My son is 16 and in college. He sees his dad for a few hours every other weekend. My daughters are 14 and 13. They’ve not seen their father in over five years.
I work full-time – 37.5 hours a week – as an admin assistant.
I had to give up my job when I got divorced. My in-laws used to look after my kids when I was at work, (the girls were two and three), but after the divorce they refused to do it. I had to go onto full time benefits and I went back to college for 18 months until my youngest started nursery. I applied to university and got in but the age for claiming income support changed at the time my youngest turned five and I needed to work 16 hours a week. I got two part-time jobs to make up the hours around college and kids and I have been in work full-time ever since.
I have been called all sorts. When I was in college with two part-time jobs I was slated for not being at home with the kids, when I worked part-time my colleagues would moan that I wasn’t doing enough work. You literally cannot please everyone.
I am pretty relaxed about money but being a single Mum I always worry that they don’t have the same as their peers so I try to keep it fair. I can’t buy brand new trainers all the time to keep up, but I give them pocket money that they can save towards things and I usually go halves with them. My son has a job and is really enjoying the freedom that comes with having money every week, so he doesn’t ask me for much these days.
I would like to be able to save for a deposit to have a mortgage instead of renting. I live in social housing, which is really not a lot cheaper than private renting in my area. I feel a bit stuck but I can’t buy right now as I would need three or four bedrooms and that’s not realistic to maintain when the kids will move out in a few years. My bills include £170 on mobile phones – we all have one and I pay for my Dad’s as well.
My kids all have hobbies, which I love to see them excel in, so every month my regular outgoings include singing, dancing and go-karting.
If I have a long term goal that I need to save for I am really good at sticking to it. I always plan and budget for a holiday every year – before Covid I had saved for over two years to go to Florida. Now that my son is almost 17 and with us not looking to go abroad this year, he probably won’t come away with us again. I am very much about making memories. I’m always planning the next day trip or concert.
My day to day budgeting is not as strict and I know I could save a lot more if I tried. I would like to be a bit more disciplined but after a long week if we fancy a Chinese then we do. If the kids have an opportunity to see their friends then I want to make sure that they have enough money to join in with lunch or clothes shopping.
They won’t be at home for much longer and they are all a great help around the house. I really just want them to look back and not feel like they missed out on anything because it was just me pretty much their whole lives. I fully intend to sort my finances out when my money is just for ‘me’.
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If you would like more information on benefits or support with debt, we suggest Entitledto or Turn2Us for easy to use benefit calculators, Citizens Advice for general benefit and debt advice, National Debtline, or Business Debtline if you have your own business that it’s debt.