Becoming a lone parent is likely to bring with it financial difficulties. Many couples are dual income families and once you become a lone parent, your income is reduced while your outgoings may remain the same.
Nevertheless, there are steps you can take to ensure you stay on an even keel financially. Below are a few points to consider.
Claim everything you’re entitled to
Contact your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau CAB) and find out if there is any financial help you can claim. If you are unemployed, ensure you are receiving all the benefits you may be entitled to as a lone father such as income support, housing benefit, child benefit and child tax credit. If you’re working a minimum of 16 hours, you may be entitled to Tax Credits and help with childcare costs.
You may be entitled to a reduction in your council tax and help with prescriptions – speak to the CAB for details.
Take charge of your debts
You may find yourself in debt or have brought debts with you from your marriage. Never ignore debts no matter how bad they seem. Your local CAB has comprehensive guidance available on how to approach your creditors. Creditors can be more flexible than you think regarding what you can afford to pay back now your circumstances have changed. It’s vital that you stay in contact with them, even if you think you cannot pay.
Sort out your household budget
Following a divorce it is useful to look at your finances in the light of your new situation as a lone father. It is helpful to draw up a list of all your income including maintenance payments, wages, benefits and your outgoings. This way you can set yourself a realistic budget. It’s helpful to put all your bills on direct debit and once again, the CAB are able to sit down with you as it often helps to talk it over with another person.
Think about re-training
You may consider increasing your income by building on your skills and qualifications. There are plenty of Government schemes available to assist with funding for job related training with websites designed to help you find the course that is right for you. The Open University is also a great learning tool for lone parents with financial assistance available and courses designed to complement family and work commitments.