It’s safe to say that a vast majority of women do not plan to become single mothers In most cases, becoming a single mom catches you off guard. Between taking care of your kids, running the household, and working, most single moms simply don’t have the time to take a fine comb to their finances. During the current coronavirus/COVID-19 crisis, you might be feeling the problem more acutely than ever. We’ve put together a list of resources and steps for single moms to improve their financial situation. You will find this information especially valuable if you recently became a single mother.
Government Programs for Single Moms
Your state will run social services programs that help single moms and dads with taking care of your children. A good place to become familiar with what’s available in your state is Benefits.gov, a comprehensive web site that also tells you how to apply to specific programs.
Some Programs Include::
- Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF): This is a federal block grant program that provides supplemental cash for up to two years to working parents who meet financial criteria. To qualify, single parents with children under age 6 must work or participate in job training for at least 20 hours a week. Parents with children older than 6 are required to work or train 30 hours a week or more.
- Food Programs (eg. SNAP). The SNAP program helps people who are eligible for other forms of welfare pay for food. SNAP funds can be used for most foods, though not alcohol. Another alternative for pregnant and nursing mothers and children younger than 5 is Women, Infants and Children (WIC), which provides assistance to buy nutritional food including dairy products, peanut butter and cereal.
- Child care and job training. An assortment of programs provide funding for job training and child care for single parents. The goal is to help them qualify for jobs and provide child care while they are at work. Two programs, Head Start and Early Head Start, are available to families whose incomes fall below the poverty threshold. Both aim at preparing young children for school and provide a range of services including medical and dental care, early education and help with nutritional issues.
- The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers housing assistance through Section 8 housing vouchers, a program that targets very low-income people. Local public housing agencies distribute the vouchers which are used to help pay rent on dwellings that meet minimum health and safety standards. Applicants income must not exceed 50% of the median household income for the area where they plan to reside, though 75% of those who receive aid have incomes that don’t exceed 30% of the area median. For information contact your local public housing agencies or a local HUD office.
Emergency Financial Assistance for Single Parents
We all have emergencies happen to us at one time or another. In those times, there are many financial services firms and lenders who you can borrow from. However, even during this stressful period, it’s important to review the terms of each lender very carefully. This is especially true if you credit score isn’t great.
Beware of Payday Loans
A variety of subprime lenders will lend you emergency cash, but be careful and review the terms such lenders might require. High interest rates, often in the 399% APR range, that frequently compound can make it very difficult to repay these loans. If you decide to pursue an emergency loan, you should have a plan for repaying it quickly.
Single moms should contact their state social services agency to learn more about programs that are available. States administer various federal programs for single moms, so a state office or website is a good place to begin research. Churches and charities are also a good resource. They often have funds to aid families with emergencies and can offer suggestions that might guide you through a financial crisis.
Be leery of anyone who charges a fee to help you get a government grant. Government grants generally flow to institutions or agencies. If someone suggests they have access to government stipends, you are probably dealing with a scam artist. Money through the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program is available, but the federal government grants the money to state and territorial governments which distribute benefits after determining whether you are eligible. You can only access TANF money through a TANF agency in your area.
Housing Assistance for Single Moms
The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Section 8 housing program provide rental assistance to low-income families, many of whom are single-mom households. One part of Section 8 subsidizes landlords who build or renovate housing and reserve a percentage of the rental units for low income families. The other part provides direct assistance to qualified low-incomed tenants.
To see if you qualify for Section 8 assistance you must demonstrate that your income falls below certain thresholds. You can use the HUD website to learn if your income makes you eligible for the Section 8 program. The website contains income limit tables, which vary according to where you live, and references to properties with Section 8 set asides. As mentioned earlier in this article, Section 8 also provides rental assistance vouchers to qualified people who want to find their own rentals. You should contact as local HUD office for more information.
Individual states also operate their own programs, some that use federal funds to cover part of their subsidies. The U.S. HUD website contains contact information for these programs.
Finally, public housing is also available around the country, most commonly in urban areas. Federal officials from HUD oversee this housing, which is often clustered in projects. You should investigate what is available through HUD or a state public housing agency. In many cities, public housing has a reputation for crime and maintenance problems, so it pays to do research before applying for a unit.
Financial Assistance for Education
While most higher education financial aid programs are open to anyone based on academic qualifications and financial need, a number of grants are earmarked for single mothers and fathers.
One of the best-known programs is Raise the Nation, a scholarship fund from the Raise the Nation Foundation. Another scholarship, the Capture the Dream fund, is available to single parents in the San Francisco Bay area in northern California. Soroptimist, an organization that supports single mothers, offers scholarships though its Live Your Dream, a program that provide $2 million in grants to 1,500 women a year to advance their educations.
Finding scholarships can take time. Some are available to single parents wishing to pursue a degree, others help children of single parents hoping to attend college. Many help both.
Pell Grants are a major source of higher education fund that the federal government provides to low- and moderate-income families based on need. In 2018-19 academic year, the maximum grant was $6,095. Students can apply for Pell Grants and other federal financial aid using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, which can be obtained through any college financial aid office.
The U.S. Department of Education also maintains a list of state financial aid agencies on its web site, which is helpful in tracking down what if available from state governments. Some state programs specifically target single moms with grants to help them enter a college or university.
Making Cash Quickly for Single Moms
Do An Online Garage Sale
One of the most effective ways to raise emergency cash for single mothers is garage sale. With everyone online these days, selling your unused stuff is easier and faster than ever. To do so, focus on items that you can sell quickly, such as unworn or lightly worn clothes and shoes. You can also sell more expensive stuff, but be aware that they may take longer to sell. Once you have figured out what you want to sell, the next step is to take great photos. Make sure that you have at least 2 photos of each item in different angles. Then, post your listings onto several marketplaces. The most popular ones are Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist, although you may have others that locals in your areas use as well. The last important step: advertise that you are selling! Go onto any social network you are part of and make a message to tell people that you are looking to clean out your closet and streamline your home.
Take a Side Gig
Many companies have been recently created that can help you make cash quickly. One of the most obvious ones are driving or Uber or Lyft. The application itself is extremely easy, and you only need a car to be able to get started. However, this is not the only place.
Have Your Kids Help Out in the Neighborhood
If you are one of the majority of single others under the age of 30, you probably do not have the option of putting your kids to work performing odd jobs. However, there are still millions of single mothers that raise teenagers. Even if your kid is not eligible to work because of age restrictions, he or she can help out by cutting grass, shoveling snow, and walking dogs that live nearby in the neighborhood. If you have one or more kids that are age-eligible to work, you can generate extra cash to take care of emergency expenses.
Although cashing in financial investments to raise emergency cash for single mothers might not gain the seal of approval from the financial gurus on television, it is an effective way to increase cash flow, without resorting to taking out a high-interest short-term loan. We recommend starting with any certificate of deposits (CDs) you own and then move on to stocks and bonds if you need more cash to handle emergency expenses. Just remember that liquidating short-term assets can trigger bank fees, as well as state and federal tax penalties. Use this strategy if you need to raise cash for today or tomorrow.