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Top tips from single parents

We've collected practical tips from the experts, single parents themselves, to give you advice and ideas. Filter by topic or find out more by following the links.

Get advice before it goes too far

My problems with rent were about 5 years ago. I got advice before it went too far and kept in contact with my landlord. I’m not the sort of person to be hiding behind the couch! That is how you get into financial difficulty.

Mum, 2 children, age 5 and 11

Get help with your rent

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Try Entitledto

I'd send people to 'Entitledto' for benefits. Sometimes people need really specific things and then the Gingerbread helpline is good. I’ve never needed the helpline, my questions got sorted without that.

Mum, 1 child, age 9

Visit Entitledto

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Saving with homemade prezzies

We are doing a lot of homemade pressies this year. For example we’ve made chutney using discounted fruit and vegetables. We save empty jam and sauce jars, which my children decorate with stickers and ribbons. My eldest child is also having a go at making candles

Mum

More on saving

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Saving for Christmas

The best way to cope financially at Christmas, is to set up a post office account at the begining of the year and put a fiver in every week. It will take the load off the big spend!

Mum

More on saving

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Use comparison websites

Use comparison websites for utilities, mobile phone tariffs, etc., to get a good deal

Mum

Help with saving

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Check if you can get extra financial help

When you change from a single benefit claim to a joint claim things change and you can get more help sometimes. I got help to pay for nursery fees – they paid 70%. If I didn’t have help with that, I wouldn't have been able to work. And a lot of people don’t know about those things.

Mum, 3 children aged 1, 5 and 10

Information on finances after separation

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Try the Turn2Us calculator to work out your benefits

I want to work and if I thought I might get a job, then I need to be ahead and work out my benefits. If I know everything’s in place that makes me feel organised and structured. I go on the Turn2Us calculator to get a rough estimate of money when I'm going back into work – you can see what you’re entitled. It’s really beneficial.

Mum, 1 child aged 4

Use the benefit calculator

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Let the right people know about your split

When you separate, you have to inform everybody for benefits. I got on and told all the different places – housing benefit, council tax. The process was easy.

Mum, 3 children aged 1, 5 and 10

Find out more about claiming benefits

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Try to face up to money problems

It's no use trying to avoid money problems by not seeing it in black and white; always open bills, bank statements, etc., so you know what's happening. If you’re struggling to pay bills you could go to your local free advice centre for help.

Single mum

Information on managing money and debt

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Try a credit union

If you have one in your area, you could try joining a credit union. It helps to save and they have good interest rates for kids. And if you do need a loan they are often the cheapest, safest option.

Single mum

More on managing money

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You can challenge benefits decisions

I followed some advice given to me by the Gingerbread helpline who advised me to go back to the benefits agency to ask them to review my claim, which ultimately proved successful and reduced my rent payments by half.

Mum, 2 children

Find out more about benefits

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Try to remember what you've got

My advice to other single parents is just to stay strong and try not to think about what you don’t have. I lost a lot when my husband and I split – both emotionally and financially. It’s a bit of a shock at first trying to get by on less. But I’d say, try not to let it get to you – look for the positives and remember what you do have.

Mum, 1 child

Information on supporting yourself

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A detailed budget does help

I worked out a month by month budget and recorded every single penny coming in and out, if I spent a bit extra on school uniforms or some other essential, then I made sure the same amount came off the food budget so that I wouldn’t go overdrawn.

Mum, 2 children

More on managing money

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