Frolo Financials: Co-parenting mum working part-time

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How do you make money work as a single parent? In the latest post in our Frolo Financials series we chat to a mum of one, working part-time.

I’m 35 and I have one son aged eight. I work 28 hours a week as a marketing executive.

I have a child arrangement order in place with my ex-husband. My son is with his Dad from 6pm on Saturday until Tuesday school drop off. School half term holidays we alternate and for Easter, summer and Christmas my son spends a week with each parent.

My financial situation has changed a lot over the last few years. After my separation from my ex-husband I didn’t work at all and I was on income support for the first six months whilst I adjusted to everything and I got back into work.

For the last three year my son’s Dad stopped paying maintenance. At the time I was in a new relationship and I didn’t ask for it as I didn’t want the emotional abuse that would come with it and financially we were okay. In August last year that relationship broke down and I found the courage to ask my ex-husband for maintenance payments through the CMS. I don’t rely on the payment though, just in case he stops again. The money goes straight into savings or for unexpected expenses like car repairs.

My son’s dad provides clothes at his home and has uniform for him on the days he takes him to school. Everything else is on me. My son’s Dad is emotionally abusive so our communication is minimal. We haven’t got a plan beyond the day to day for now. 

I use one account for my bills then I have a food/fuel account and a spending account and I transfer money out on payday to each one. I give myself £300 per month as ‘spending money’ – this includes clothing, shoes, hair cuts, luxuries, days out, presents etc.

When I visit my local shop I always check for reduced meat to put in the freezer. Once a week I visit a community larder based at my son’s school, a service that aims to reduce the amount of food waste going to landfill. It’s open to anyone and really does go a long way to reduce our food bill.

I have had people comment about it being alright for me, working part-time and then getting universal credit. If I have something new I fear judgement of that. My son’s Dad is the worst for judgement and comments.

We recently sold the family home after crawling out of negative equity as we bought at the peak of the market in 2006. We each got a 50% share of around £3,000. This has helped with my mindset on saving as I feel like I am finally getting somewhere. Prior to this always felt like when it got to around £500 something would happen and I would be back to the drawing board.

I recently signed up for a part-time college course. I had no idea that on a low income you can access free training.  I am excited to train whilst continuing work from September and hopeful that I will be able to introduce another income stream in the future.

In all honesty I don’t think I would change anything. I feel stronger financially than I ever have done but it takes hard work and I know I could do better. The last two months I have banned myself from B&M and Home Bargains as I easily spend £80 a time in there!

Read more in the Frolo Financials series here.

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If you would like more information on benefits or support with debt, we suggest Entitledto or Turn2Us for easy to use benefit calculators, Citizens Advice for general benefit and debt advice, National Debtline, or Business Debtline if you have your own business that it’s debt.