If you’re a single mom in need of money, there are a number of avenues to explore. It’s not likely you’ll find a pile of cash somewhere (best to keep the lottery on the back burner), but using a combination of the ideas below, you might in time begin to get your budget back on track.
Earn More Money
The best way to improve your circumstances is to earn more money. Invest in some further education or training to become qualified for a better-paying job. Or start looking at ways to earn extra income at home during the evening or on weekends, so you can spend time with your kids while you’re working. The links below will help get you started:
US Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (ETA)
See the “Find Job and Career Info” section to assess your skills, decide on a career that fits those skills, and prepare for your career:
Workforce/One Stop Centers
The ETA (above) partially funds Workforce and One Stop centers, a valuable resource for the job seeker in every state. You can visit these centers in person and get help from staff.
Grants And Scholarships
Financial aid is available through the government (see links above), but if you don’t find anything there, check out this website for another searchable database of grants and scholarships that might apply specifically to the single mother:
If you need some help to get by while you’re trying to improve your job situation, it might be an appropriate step to apply for government assistance to buy food, pay for housing, or underwrite your child care costs. The links below will direct you to the websites of government agencies (Federal and State) you can contact to get started on this process.
Official benefits website of the U.S. government. You can search for benefits by state, category, agency, or use a checklist-style Benefits Finder to locate benefits that might apply to you.
There are many federally-funded programs for meals throughout the year. See the link below for a full description of what’s available, and how to get your children enrolled.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
Formerly known as the Food Stamp program, SNAP will help you cut down on food costs.
Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
WIC provides federal grants to states to help low-income pregnant women, and low-income women who have children up to age five. WIC provides the following benefits: A free health screening is provided to applicants, because a mother or child is eligible only if they are found to be “at nutritional risk” (in addition to other program requirements such as income)
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
The housing choice voucher program (more commonly known as Section 8 housing) is the major federal government program for helping low-income families afford decent private market housing…
To find more information about the voucher program (Section 8), see the link below.
The Information by State link below will get you closer to the actual office you’ll need to contact to inquire about this type of assistance in your area.
USDA – Rural Development / Housing & Community Facilities Programs (HCFP)
For people who live in rural areas. To find a Service Center in your area (by State), follow this link:
Housing Finance Agencies
Housing Finance Agencies offer a wide range of support and assistance to families in search of affordable housing.
It’s always possible to save money, even if you think you’re already cutting it to the bone. Most people don’t realize how much they actually spend, and on what—they just know they never have enough. Track your expenses for a month to see where your money actually goes, then try to get by on less in the categories that are not “fixed”—like food, entertainment (cable TV and the Internet are two easy ways to cut back), and clothes.
Many people realize, after cutting expenses to what seems like an extreme, that their lives become more peaceful and pleasurable. First, because they are not stressing about finances; and second, because there are benefits to a more simple life, like quality family time spent cooking or sewing together, or increased exercise when they walk or bike instead of drive.
So give it a try—instead of buying bread at the store, learn to bake. Join a community garden and can your own vegetables. Instead of shopping for clothes, make your own. You might even find that you excel in some category of “doing it yourself”, and be able to earn income from selling what you make with your own hands.
Also, lots of community education programs pay people who can teach their neighbors how to do just what you might be good at, whether it’s the activities mentioned above, or some other skill you possess (yoga, computer skills, household repair, decorating).
Here are a few more ways to save money as a single mother, especially through medical and childcare assistance.
Health Care Assistance Programs
Medicaid/Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
Your child or teen may qualify for no-cost or low-cost health insurance coverage through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Partnership for Prescription Assistance Program
This is a patient assistance program that may be able to lower your prescription drug costs, if you lack prescription coverage.
Another patient assistance program.
Drug Discount Cards
Drug discount cards are like coupons—you just present them when you make your prescription drug purchase. The following are links to a variety of these cards (which should be free):
Child Care Assistance Programs
Dependent Care Account
Offered through your employer (if they participate), this is a way to save money on medical costs. Contact your Human Resources department (or whoever handles payroll for your place of business) for advice about how much you can save using this account.
Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit
This is a non-refundable tax credit, meaning that if you do not earn enough income to pay federal taxes, you do not benefit from the credit (the government will not send you money—they will only reduce the amount you owe by the amount of the credit).
Many states offer a version of this credit (or in some cases a tax deduction). See what your state provides by accessing the state government website from the link below, and searching for “Child Care Tax Credit”:
State Child Care Assistance Programs
The website of the Child Care and Development Fund has many helpful links, including a Frequently Asked Questions page that is very manageable and informative:
Information by state:
Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies
Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R) Agencies exist in many communities, forming a network of information to help you explore the most affordable child-care options in your area.
The easiest way to access the CCR&R closest to you is to visit the website of Child Care Aware (http://www.childcareaware.org). Simply enter your zip code to bring up a list of agencies in your area.
Early Head Start/Head Start
YMCA Programs for Child Care
Find your local YMCA and ask about child care programs by following this link: