How to Survive on Minimum Wage If You Are a Single Mom

Living on minimum wage is tough. Being a single mom is even tougher. And, when, you combine the factors together, it can be quite a challenge. However, it is possible to survive on minimum wage as a single mom. Thousands of single-parent families thrive on a minimum wage salary. Here are some tips and suggestions on how to live on minimum wage.

Try to have a positive attitude and mindset.

As crazy as this sounds, try to think positively about your future. Remember, you still have it much better than millions of people living in South America, India, Africa, China, and of course, other areas of the US. Stay focused on the blessings that you have.

Carefully evaluate your budget.

Write down (or type) all of your monthly expenses and compare them to your income. Look for ways to make adjustments, and how to cut back in each area.

One helpful technique is to try the envelope system. This involves setting aside a specific amount for areas such as groceries, entertainment, etc., and grouping the money into envelopes. Read these articles here to learn more about the envelope system.

Enroll in Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University course.

Even if you do not have any debt, consider enrolling in a local Financial Peace University class. You’ll learn about managing a budget, getting out of debt, using money wisely, etc. There is a fee, however, if money is extremely tight, ask the coordinator if they can provide a scholarship. Explain that you are a single mom with limited resources, and they might provide the course for free.

To find local classes in your area, visit, and click on “classes.” They usually provide free childcare.

Join Frugal Living Forums.

Online support can make a tremendous difference. There are many frugal living forums where you can get tips, advice, and much more. Read “Frugal Living Forums and Message Boards for Frugal Moms” for some helpful links.

Examine your living situation.

The biggest way to save is by your choice of housing. If you are renting a three bedroom, you could move to a two-bedroom and have your children share a room. You could even move to a one bedroom and make the living room your room. (Or, you could share the room with one child.) If you’ve been at your job for awhile, consider the possibility of buying a trailer in a safe area. This would help you have some equity in your home.

Cut back on utilities.

One of the biggest household expenses is your electricity and water bills. Try to avoid using the air conditioner except in extreme heat situations. Fans work great, and you’ll get used to it.

Apply for assistance.

Public assistance was created to help families in need. You have paid into the system in the past, and do not be shy about applying for help. This assistance can help you until you can eventually get a higher paying job.

Start by applying for food stamps. You should automatically qualify. If you aren’t sure where to go, call 211 from a land line phone. (If that doesn’t work, call your local United Way or a local church.)

You can also apply for assistance with childcare, get help with clothing, shoes, and even diapers. Call 211 (or your United Way) for advice on where to get help.

As a general rule, if you have an unexpected expense come up for the month (such as car repairs), pay other bills first before paying for food. You can almost always get help with food, but you cannot always get help with an electric bill, medicine, etc. Visit a local church in your area, explain that you are single mom needing help with food, and more than likely you will be provided with some food.

Try to supplement your income by working from home.

It is possible to earn some extra money from home while the kids are asleep. One idea is to write articles for various websites. Click here to learn more about writing for the Yahoo Contributor Network. Also, visit forums for more resources. Read “5 Freelance Writer Forums” for some links.

If you don’t like to write, you could work from home as a call center agent. Try,, or Also, check out “Legitimate and Scam-Free Work at Home Jobs” for other ideas.

Find support with other single moms.

It can be a little easier to survive as a single mom if you have encouragement from friends. Read “How to Find Support as a Single Mom” for some advice. Also, check out “Tips for Starting a Single Mom Support Group.” You might meet other single moms who are also living on minimum wage. You can share thoughts on how to survive and thrive.

These are just a handful of suggestions on how to survive on minimum wage as a single mom. Remember that you are a role model for your children. Take it one day at a time.

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