Moms are some of the most creative and resourceful people on the planet. We will make a “kitchen sink” meal out of a handful of leftover ingredients in the fridge, pull together a last-minute costume with clothing from our own closets, turn a boring road trip into a family game day and dance party, and dream up the best birthday party on a budget. We are the queens of making things happen for our families! And one thing I know for sure is that we know how to survive without child support. 

As a single mom, you’re doing all of this on your own while caring for your kids’ basic needs, which can be physically, emotionally, and financially draining. And if you aren’t receiving child support to assist with those needs, it can become downright daunting. But it is not impossible. You can flourish without financial support from your ex-partner with a few subtle shifts in how you see yourself amid this challenging situation and some lifestyle adjustments to make things more manageable. Remember, you are a resourceful rockstar! Future you will be so proud of the way you stayed positive, took ownership of your situation, set goals, and knocked them out of the park to create the life you wanted for yourself and your children. Here is a list of ways to survive without child support.  

A guide for single moms on how to survive without child support. How To Survive Without Child Support

Take Ownership

It can be a challenge to let go of the idea of “we” and focus on YOU when it comes to providing for your family. Whether you were in a partnership that ended or you had expectations about receiving financial support that didn’t pan out, you have to change your mindset. The best way to move forward is to accept that your relationship and lifestyle have changed and figure out the best way to take ownership of your current situation. Let go of anger and resentment that might be holding you back from operating with a clear head, and trust yourself and your ability to manage your household independently. You can’t control your ex’s actions, but you can control how you respond to changing circumstances and show up for your children.  

Set Goals

Setting attainable goals gives you something to work toward and to look forward to in this new phase of your life. Think about what you want your new life to look like and what you want for your children’s futures. Do you need a new place to live? Want your kids to be still able to participate in extracurricular activities? Do you need to start thinking about paying for college? Write everything out to stay on track and remember your “why” on those incredibly challenging days. 

Take Charge of Your Finances

The key to taking charge of your finances is assessing where you are right now and seeing where you can make changes to take some of the pressure off while adjusting to your role as the sole provider. 

  • Create a budget that accounts for all your expenses so you know where all your money is going. Doing this will also allow you to reduce non-essentials or things you can return to later when you have more disposable income. And it will help you determine where to make lifestyle changes that increase your financial viability. 
  • If you’re overwhelmed by debt, it may be a good idea to call your creditors and try to negotiate lower or deferred payments or to look into debt management or consolidation options. 
  • Increase your income. Ask for a review of your work and performance at your job and find out if now is a good time for a raise or a promotion. If that’s not possible, consider a second, part-time job or a side hustle you can manage from home without creating additional childcare costs. 
  • Barter for or share services where possible. Sometimes close families or neighbors will participate in nanny shares or babysitting co-ops to save money on expensive childcare. 
  • Change your living situation. Suppose it’s possible to live with family members temporarily or move to a less expensive house or apartment. In that case, you may be able to cut back on housing costs, which is generally your most significant expense, while still providing a safe environment for your family. 

Make Saving a Priority

Saving money may seem like the last thing possible when you’re managing a household on just your income, but it could be the thing that protects you and keeps your finances on track in case of an emergency. And if you take charge of your finances in the ways mentioned above, it may be more doable than you think. 

Saving doesn’t have to happen all at once. Here are a few ways to start:

  • Round up extra change and save it in a jar in your home until it’s enough to deposit into the bank. 
  • Round up credit or debit purchases to the nearest dollar–but put the surplus into a savings account.
  • Start small. Even if you deposit $10 per week into your savings account, you’ll have an extra $500 at the end of a year. Invest $20 weekly into your savings, and you’ll have an additional $1,000. 

The essential rule about saving is to touch it only when you hit your goal or when unexpected emergencies arise. Single mom, Tiya, shared, “I believe everyone, especially women, should have an account at a bank that is inconvenient to access. Tell no one about this account. Treat it like a Christmas or vacation savings and add money every pay period or when you have extra to spare. Having that contingency fund literally saved my life.” 

Trust Family and Friends

If you have close family and friends, now is the time to trust and lean on them for support. And there may be ways they can help you out that save you both time and money, like: 

  • Babysitting for free a certain number of times per week or month. 
  • Sharing cooking duties with you or trading off nights where one person cooks for the entire group.
  • Letting you use their washer and dryer if you don’t have access to no-cost laundry facilities where you live.
  • Being willing to pay for extras that aren’t in your budget, like your kids’ extracurricular activities or summer camp. 
  • Gift your family experiences instead of physical items for holidays and special occasions. 
  • Passing down pre-owned clothing and accessories for your kids from older cousins so you can purchase fewer things off the rack. 

There are so many ways family and friends can assist if you get creative and find the courage to ask. And if you don’t have close family and friends, lean on other moms who are, or have been, where you are now. Joining established support groups, like our Single Mom Defined Facebook Community of single mothers, will help you to find necessary resources and feel less alone. 

Research Supplemental Resources

Sometimes, your bandwidth isn’t enough to cover everything, and you need supplemental resources to help you get by until you feel more secure. It’s okay to take advantage of government or community assistance programs. You may be eligible for free or low-cost access to food for your family, housing assistance, infant essentials,  workforce development, and even legal services

Our Single Mom Defined Resource Directory has all the details for services local to Pittsburgh and Allegheny County and is at your fingertips. Just click “Resource Directory” in the left-hand sidebar of our site. Not local to Pittsburgh? It’s still worth seeing if similar services are offered in your city or state.  

If this experience is your experience, we would love to know your best tips for how to survive without child support.  Share your best tip with us in the comments.