Saturday, June 29, 2013

Good Question: Finances

Single Mamma's and Papa's, here's your chance to chime in... we've gotten a good question. If you are flying solo, answer how YOU do it in the comments section, or if you're a contributing blogger, log in and share your answer.

Here you go...

How you make the finances work as a single parent? Tips and tricks?

Foster Mamma
I ain't gonna lie, this has been a tough one for me. Making it all add up at the end of the day. I hate, hate that little lives are tied up AT all with money, but yet that's part of the reality of being a stay at home foster mamma. I do work part time outside of the home as a photographer. It is wonderful to have a creative outlet and a source of extra income on the months when I don't have any placements and money is tight, but it is hard for me to leave the kids to "work", because I see them as my job, my passion and my whole life. Budgeting tightly helps a lot, as well as accepting help when you need it. Basically being okay with life being simple and about the kids.

When you are just starting out in foster care its a good plan to have a little extra money set aside for the first few months of a placement.  The "stipend" that you get will likely be paid 1-2 months behind, for example January's stipend is paid out on 15th of February.  This is really hard if you are having to pay daycare costs out of pocket or if it is not reimbursed until the stipend date.  I have definitely learned to budget over the last few years! 

Toys and Entertainment Tips:  I went way overboard on getting all of the "stuff", partly out of excitement and partly out of guilt because most of these kids come to you with nothing.  I wanted them to have everything :)  I quickly crashed and burned learned.  Stick to the basics, if your kiddos want something special or expensive use it as an opportunity to teach them money skills, make then earn part of it or wait for it, they may not get the chance to learn these skills again.  I've found it is better to spend money on experiences versus the stuff, if you have to make the choice! We belong to the local YMCA near our house for a very minimal cost, any foster children we have can be added to our family account for no cost.  They offer 2 hours a day of childcare while I get to workout  watch TV and walk slowly on the treadmill.  The weekly swimming lessons are pretty cheap and I have a good relationship with the Aquatic Director so usually she cuts me a break on any foster kids swimming lessons.  They also have a lot of family nights with free food and activities for the kids.  Check local blogs and newspaper for free activities in your community.

Food Cost Tips:  Foster children qualify for WIC, absolutely use it, especially for formula....that stuff is crazy expensive.  They also get free lunch at school, use it (make sure you get the lunch calendar so you can pack on special days or if its something they don't like, you don't want them to feel left out if no one else is eating hot lunch that day!).  Since the kids have to come with me when I shop I have found a meal plan is a MUST to help the impulse to overbuy!  I try and do all the shopping once every two weeks, sometimes even once a month and buy in bulk on items I can store easily.  I let the kids tell me a couple of dinners or snacks that they would want for the month and be sure to grab those.  I read a bunch of large family blogs to get ideas on cooking larger meals and then freezing portions for later in the month.  In the summer we sign up for a CSA so we get local veggies and fruit each week, its like Christmas in a box, and then we plan the meals around that.

Clothing:  Another category I totally go overboard on :)  I definitely check out thrift stores and used kids clothing stores (check with your agency if this is allowed). Most of the popular stores for kids clothes have frequent mark downs so keep checking if there is something you like, both in store and online.  I tend to wait till the end of a season and buy a lot of clothing items when they are way marked down and save them for next year.  If a kid goes home then I have a nice collection of things to pick from so I can send them home with a wardrobe that should least for several seasons or I can store them away for future placements.  Let your friends and family know you are happy to take any hand me downs that they no longer want.

1 comment:

  1. I'm amazed that it really does all work out:) WIC is a big help! When I signed my oldest up for baseball, I swallowed my pride and asked the league if they do scholarships. Immediately, a YES - in full. Since the baseball gear sure added up, this was a great surprise.
    Hand me downs from friends are amazing. I can get sucked into great deals that aren't that great of deals - and am learning to stay far from Zulily!


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