Single-parent families: Budgeting through the pandemic
Posted on Friday July 03, 2020
Single-parent families: Budgeting through the pandemic
Guide for single-parent families: Budgets, finances, and pandemics
One of the joys of being a parent is watching your kids grow up. But when you’re a single parent it also comes with a boatload of responsibilities! And in the stormy seas of the current crisis, keeping your grip on the tiller is even tougher. Fortunately there are resources to help you stay on course, including assistance programs, budgeting help, saving strategies, and financial awareness for kids. Let’s take a look at all that’s available.
Public support: Still there and better than ever
You’re not alone in that ship of yours. The whole province and country are there backing you up. Let’s take a look around at the benefits, support, and tax relief programs that have been set up to help you out and that you as a single parent are entitled to.
The Economic and Social Inclusion Corporation gets to work
To help you deal with the financial side of COVID-19, the Economic and Social Inclusion Corporation (ESIC) is working with the departments of the New Brunswick government on ways to provide food security and community transportation for vulnerable New Brunswickers.
A much-appreciated GST/HST credit increase
If you filed a 2018 tax return and received the Harmonized Sales Tax credit, you’ll have received a lump sum payment issued on April 9, 2020. A little extra from the federal government to tide you over in tough times.
Financial support in New Brunswick: Lots of ways to make it
Canada Revenue Agency has three assistance programs for New Brunswickers that provide a healthy financial cushion when the pandemic is tossing you around, or whenever you need it.
Benefits and credits
In addition to the Canada Child Benefit (CCB), the following monthly support programs are funded by the province of New Brunswick:
- The New Brunswick Child Tax Benefit (NBCTB)
- The New Brunswick Working Income Supplement
The provincial government also offers its own New Brunswick Harmonized Sales Tax Credit (NBHSTC): This is particularly good for single-parent families, who get an extra $300 boost. Non-taxable benefits like that can go a long way towards making ends meet in these tough times!
Despite the new need for social distancing, your children’s education is a priority during this COVID-19 pandemic. The New Brunswick School Supplement (NBSS) and tuition and education tax credits support your family and make sure you can afford school supplies even when you have to tighten your belt.
For more on how the Government of New Brunswick can help you, check out their website.
The CCB: Federal support designed especially for you
The Government of Canada has a straightforward, generous, tax-free benefit to help keep you afloat in good times and bad.
New parents, shared custody, or temporary custody: the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) helps every configuration of family.
To help with the financial strains of COVID-19, the CCB provided a one-time increased payment of $300. That should buy you some peace of mind when you’re locked down with your kids.
A break for single-parent families
The CCB is a godsend for Canada’s single-parent families Jocelyne Hébert, a Dieppe mother who lost her job, can send her son to a quality daycare without breaking the bank, as she explains in a report discussing the CCB on Radio-Canada news (in French only).
How do you get it? The Government of Canada website explains how to get the benefit so you can ride out the financial squalls COVID-19 is stirring up.
Daycare and budgets: financial support for quality services
You want your kids to grow and thrive, but how can you provide for that when the health crisis is straining your budget? The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development can be a big help.
Making daycare more affordable
Thanks to the Daycare Assistance Program, daycare could get a lot more affordable. A change in the eligibility requirements has opened the door to better daycare for more New Brunswick families than ever before.
Help is phone call away
The program is easy to apply for: just call your Social Development Regional Office for the monthly benefit. To find out more on the Daycare Assistance Program or see if you’re eligible, go to the Government of New Brunswick website.
A good accountant counts! Resources, tax credits, programs—an accountant can guide you and help you get the most out of the range programs and benefits available. A good accountant is an investment that really pays off.
Yes it is doable: Saving on a tight budget
Saving isn’t always easy, especially when single parenthood pushes you into the red. Investments, set instalments, financial planning—you’ll be surprised how much you can save with just a little advance planning!
Balancing the books: Spreading your spending
Paying in set instalments is a good way to keep an eye on your monthly spending and keep your budget under control. Personal loans, car and appliance purchases, your mortgage, power and heating bills, subscriptions, and more. Turn your big outlays into small purchases you pay off bit by bit so you still have room to save.
Education matters: The power of RESPs
Time is money, just like RESP investments! Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs) are financial planning accounts that let you build your capital at your own pace. Whether or not there’s room in your budget to pay into it every year, your investment keeps on growing tax-free, topped up by generous government grants and compound interest. Your RESP savings then help your kids take their education further.
Save as if by magic with automatic withdrawals
The best way to save is to never have to think about it. With preauthorized withdrawals, you can put whatever amount you decide in a savings account, just a little at a time. The important thing isn’t how much you can afford each month; it’s the longer time scale. Your money grows and accrues all by itself—no budgeting necessary!
Tips for sticking to a budget
There are three golden rules in budgeting: don’t pile up debt, think long-term, and plan your spending.
Tips: Day-to-day saving
Clothes, school supplies, food, trips—figuring out how to pay for all the things kids want and need can be a real headache. Here are a few possible ways you can lighten your financial load:
- By kids’ clothes at thrift shops. For example, there are five Guy’s Frenchys in the province, and they all have a great selection.
- Join a kids clothing swap group.
- Join a community kitchen, like Edmundston’s Atelier R.A.D.O. Inc. or the Kent County Inclusion Network’s Food Security Program.
Watch that credit card!
Sure it’s handy, especially with that contactless payment option (better known as Paypass), but despite all appearances to the contrary, your credit card is not actually your friend. Use it carefully and pay off your balance every month to avoid pointless interest charges.
The School Caisse: Learning the value of money and how to manage it
A School Caisse is a K-to-8 educational program that gets young people started on the path to smart financial behaviour. Saving is child’s play for kids once they’ve mastered the basics. Teaching them why it’s so important to save and what financial cooperatives can do for them are lessons that will serve them all their lives.
As head of a family, you have tremendous responsibilities that most parents get to share with somebody. But you’re not alone. Your province, community, and financial cooperative are there for you with the resources you need to get through the pandemic stronger than ever.