I’m a single parent trying to manage life on a budget. I am extremely afraid that I will not be able to support my two children with the high cost of everything. I have a decent job, but I have to find a way to pay for childcare! It’s getting crazy.
Stressed single mom
Dear Stressed Single Mom,
I am sorry. This inflation has taken its toll on so many people, but for single parents it is especially difficult.
My mother’s favorite verse was Romans 8:28. She actually had a business card with this verse printed on it and her name and phone number underneath:
“And we know that for those who love God, everything works together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (ESV)
Before giving you my advice, I suggest you memorize this wonderful promise. This led my mother to overcome many difficult challenges.
A childcare crisis
My wife recently spoke with our new dental technician and learned that she is a single mother. When asked what her biggest challenge was, she immediately replied, “Childcare. It’s so expensive. She then shared her story of an unwanted divorce and living with her parents until her newborn baby started kindergarten. His mother took care of him during the day so that she could work. She now has her own place. Last year, she gave up childcare for financial reasons and her 8-year-old returned home to an empty house until she left work.
Parents are concerned about the cost, availability and quality of care for their children. Many say that we have fallen behind in each of these areas. Care.com conducted a cost of care survey this year. He revealed that childcare is now more expensive for a majority of parents. Thousands of daycare centers closed between December 2019 and March 2021. Due to this and the economic situation of our country, daycare centers have increased their costs and are caring for fewer children.
More than half of American families plan to spend more than $10,000 a year on child care. This is more than the average cost of college tuition in the state. Half of the parents surveyed say they spend more than 20% of their annual household income on childcare. 72% say they spend 10% or more. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, child care is considered affordable at 7% of budgeted household income.
The average cost for a child per week in 2021:
- $694 – nanny
- $226 – daycare or daycare
- $221 – family care center
Child care centers across the country need to raise their prices. A center in georgia said they had to adjust their employees’ salaries to cover high gas and food prices. The cost of school supplies in the centers has almost doubled over the past year. Covid and inflation have impacted parents, children and employees in countless ways.
Effect on parents:
- Take a second job
- Reduction of working hours
- Change job
- Leaving the labor market entirely
Choosing not to have any more children
- Make a budget. It’s the most efficient way to spend neatly less than what you earn each month. This will reduce your stress and give you more options.
- Created a emergency fund to break the cycle of debt and avoid paying high interest loans.
- Develop a reliable support system of friends/relatives to avoid using up all your sick leave.
- Find a family-friendly job that will allow you to work from home on days when you have sick children.
- Take advantage of dependent care from employers flexible spending account which allows you to set aside money in pre-tax dollars. Here is a link to SRI specificities.
- Pray and ask for help from trusted advisors: church, family, friends or co-workers. Get involved in a good church; they often have programs that can provide relief.
Be aware and available
The Body of Christ must be sensitive to the needs of single mothers, fathers, grandmothers or grandfathers who today are responsible for raising children. Help with housing, cars, insurance, legal issues, and yes, childcare, can bless generations. May God open our eyes to the needs around us. For all single parents and grandparents, may he be your source of strength and wisdom.
“Trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
Recognize him in all your ways, and he will make your paths straight.
(Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV)
While seeking the Lord’s guidance, if credit card debt adds to your financial difficulties, Christian Credit Counselors is a reliable source of help towards financial freedom.
Chuck Bentley is CEO of Crown Ministries of Finance, a worldwide Christian ministry, founded by the late Larry Burkett. He is the host of a daily radio show, my money lifefeatured on over 1,000 Christian music and talk stations in the United States, and author of his most recent book, Economic proof for God?. Make sure you follow Crown on Facebook.