single parent

Money Challenges For Single Parents And The Best Careers To Overcome Them

Employment for single parents can be a prickly concern. Not to suggest interest in a good job with a good wage isn’t a universal concern, but single people without children don’t have to worry about the time constraints that accompany looking after kids, nor do they have to monetarily support those kids. Couples with children, meanwhile, have twice the resources (obviously) of single parents- twice the childcare time, twice the income or, usually, some combination of the two. As such, it’s important for single parents to find a career that both furnishes a decent wage a

nd offers hours flexible enough to accommodate kids. What sort of careers are those? Well, read on.


Despite the cliché about teachers being paid poorly, the average wage for educators is actually, generally pretty decent. It’s also one of those professions that will always be in demand, making it a fairly stable career. That’s particularly true of higher education where the prospect of tenure offers an additional layer of job security- something that’s often true employment options at schools beyond educator too- administration, library work, etc.

A decent wage and relatively stable career are obviously a bonus, but for single parents one of the chief draws of work at an education institution is the schedule. It’s full time, which is great for the bottom line, but the schedule conveniently generally corresponds to kids’ school schedule, obviously- off in the morning and afternoon, during the summer, etc.

Any single parents who feel as though they’re not qualified for a teaching position should look to the vast amount of online schools before making any final decisions on the matter. American University’s online programs allow students to attain a teaching degree at their own pace.  With 24/7 access to coursework, you can study exactly how you want to, which is perfect for single parents who commonly experience changes in their schedules. Combine this with the fact that students save thousands of dollars on traveling as well as room and board, and you’re left with few reasons not to give online education a try.

Virtual Assistants

The virtual assistant (VA) is great for single parents with a skill for organization. The VA is fundamentally no different from the traditional variety. They are hired by an executive to schedule appointments, make calls, organize a schedule, book travel arrangements and so on. Only the VA telecommutes and does all of this from the comfort of their home office. Any legitimate work that can done from home, for a single parent, is good work. VAs make, on average, around $40,000 a year.

Sales and Reselling

Of course, to a great degree all of these careers hinge on the personality and temperament of the single parent applying. For the studious and personable, being a teacher would probably be a very satisfying career; for the relentlessly organized, the path of the virtual assistant will likely be a fit; and for those with the gift of gab, a talent for convincing discourse, and/or a keen business sense- check out sales.

Sales can often be done from home and depending on the pay structure, the salesperson can often work as much or little as they need or want to. Work in sales relies quite a bit on the company one works for. The payment structure differs, the requirement for travel varies, obviously the product being sold changes the requirements for sales, etc. So the first big step for someone interested in sales (and this is easier said than done), is finding a product and company that works well for you.

If working from home is a priority and the parent in question values freedom in their employment situation, consider reselling. Reselling takes two chief forms- the more freeform class involves buying or making items and selling them for a profit on a dedicated site or a resale site like eBay or Etsy. There is also “drop shipping”, where an individual buys a product or products at bulk from a supplier and resells them for a profit.

Graphic Design and Desktop Publication/Editing

Graphic design and desktop publishing/writing/editing represent another excellent work-at-home opportunity for those with a talent. For those with a penchant and skill for design, painting, drawing or art in general, freelance graphic design (or as a telecommuting member of a firm) can prove a lucrative outlet for that artistic impulse. If someone’s talents incline more toward the literary, channeling that skill for editing, writing, publishing, providing articles for a blog or a number of blogs, etc. The best thing about those possible career paths- they require only a laptop and a little free time.

Additional Suggestions

Some of these are common sense, but regardless of someone’s profession, appropriate money management is always going to be an extremely important facet of their financial life. A budget should be established by studying one’s finances month to month, plotted out according to average expenditures, and then followed closely. As important to that financial security is planning for leaner times. Save up an emergency fund. Some experts will assert that six months of emergency savings are sufficient, others insist eight months of an emergency fund is a better idea.

Furthermore, in a shaky economy like this one, the threat of being laid off is a perennial threat for a great percentage of the work force. Particularly if a layoff seems likely or possible- as the old saying goes, the best time to search for a job is when you have one. At the same time, become familiar with the process for filing unemployment benefits and consider a backup like supplemental insurance to complement unemployment benefits (yup, that is a thing). Basically, with some research, originality, elbow grease and preparation, there’s a great job and a great financial life waiting out there anyone.

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Frank McCourt is an investment, frugal living, and just-about-anything-else finance-related blogger. When pried away from his laptop, he enjoys fishing and hiking with his wife across the northwest.

The Single Parent Financial Safety Net

At the risk of recounting anxieties here that are no doubt familiar to pretty much anyone reading this: times are tough at the moment. Being a single parent isn’t exactly a walk in the park at the best of time, but the state of the economy has further complicated the prospect of parenting without a partner. While the challenges of single parenting are probably too numerous to list here, a good argument could be made that virtually all of them are in some way, monetary. At the very least, if money doesn’t inevitably make someone’s life easier, having less of it makes life harder.

So, with the importance of money established, here are ways in which a single parent can manage it wisely.

Track Income and Carefully Maintain a Budget

This may seem like an obvious one, but establishing and sticking to a budget is extremely important. Do so by taking an inventory of monthly spending and plot out spending patterns based on fixed and average expenditures: how much always goes to rent or mortgage and bills, and how much on average goes to food, gas, clothing, entertainment, etc. Once a budget’s been set up, it’s easier to plan spending and it’s easier to save.

Almost inevitably, budgets reveal surprises: more money is consistently spent in one area than you’d have guessed, while you end up spending less in another, etc. Understanding those trends also contributes to effective saving.

Build up Savings and an Emergency Fund

Everyone’s saving decisions and priorities, of course, unique and based on their specific budget and spending habits. However, there are some more universal hints that can contribute to good saving habits. One good strategy is thinking of savings as money that isn’t yours (for spending at least), or like another bill. Getting in the habit of putting away as little as twenty dollars a month in a savings account can yield huge benefits later. Most banks will automatically transfer a portion of a paycheck into a savings account.

Make Sure Your Insurance is Up To Date

While no one is particularly fond of making insurance payments, doing so is far better than the alternative. Most important are health and life insurance. More than 60% of bankruptcies in the United States are related to medical expenses and when one parent is watching over their own health and that of their children, the threat of those expenditures is that much more pronounced. Life insurance is just as important. Morbid as it is- buying life insurance is comparably important. Should anything happen to a single parent, life insurance can provide for their children.

Plan Ahead, Stay Employable and Plan for Hardship

Keeping money flowing into the family coffers is obviously extremely important, and having a job is necessary for that flow of funds. If additional job training and/or education is available, it’s virtually always a good idea to take advantage of the opportunity. If a job is temporary, shaky or layoffs seem likely, get started on looking for more work. While it’s a cliché to assert that the best time to look for a job is while you have one, it’s also true. Start a job search before it becomes absolutely necessary to do so and consider padding your income with part time or freelance work if that’s available and doable.

Furthermore, if a gap in employment does loom, look into what steps are necessary for setting up unemployment benefits. Less well known is supplemental unemployment insurance, which can be invaluable for those concerned that an unemployment is looming. Generally, supplemental unemployment programs will pay at least 50% of someone’s former paycheck, making up the difference between state benefits and that 50% or more.

Basically, it comes down to planning and organization. Plan a budget, plan for the future, plan for potential financial hurdles and organize accordingly. Do that and there’s very little that can’t be accomplished.

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Frank McCourt is an investment, frugal living, and just-about-anything-else finance related. When pried away from his laptop, he enjoys fishing and hiking with his wife across the northwest.

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