What's Eating Single Parents Today
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) Seven years ago when Leslie Tayne became the single mother of fraternal twins in addition to her daughter, she was overwhelmed. "This was something I hadn't expected and I didn't know what would happen next," said Tayne, who is an attorney.
One of the expenses she hadn't anticipated was babysitting.
Like Tayne, Kimberly Foss became overwhelmed with child care expenses for her daughter, Madison, after an unexpected divorce. The certified financial planner paid a whopping $5,000 a year for kinder care.
"Children of single parents can feel stress," Foss said. "They may feel more relaxed with grandma and grandpa."
Indeed, the average cost of center-based daycare in the United States is $972 a month, according to the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA).
"I don't think people who choose to be a single parent know what they are in for," Foss said. "Nothing beats two parents. A child benefits from the role model of both parents."
In addition to private kindergarten, among the hidden costs Foss didn't expect were her daughter's classmates.
"Nobody tells you how expensive your child's social life can be with birthday party after birthday party," she said. "Madison was invited to two and three a month and each required a present. Foss purchased gifts for her daughter's friends using points to obtain $15 and $20 gift cards through the American Express credit card reward program.
More than 12 million households are headed by single parents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and single fathers are on the rise.
In 1960, about 14% of single parent households were headed by fathers compared to 24% today.
"With the divorce rate what it is today, it's smart to have a back up plan in case you wind up raising a child alone whether you are a man or woman," said Foss.
Single fathers have an advantage, because 41% are more likely than single mothers at 16% to be living with a cohabiting partner.
Family Financial Expert Ellie Kay suggests single mothers acquire a money buddy, which creates the illusion of a marriage partner.
"It's difficult to make financial decisions alone without a second opinion," said Kay, author of Lean Body, Fat Wallet (Thomas Nelson, 2013). "Find a free financial counselor or ask a trusted friend or other family member to be an accountability partner for your budget and other major financial decisions."
Many single parents find themselves working over time to meet expenses created by single parenting and try to compensate for time away from their children.