Emergency Cash for Single Mothers

Date Published: Jun 08, 2018
Jim Hughes, writer at OpenCashAdvance.com
Sophia Rodriguez, reviewer at OpenCashAdvance.com

Trying to get by financially and raise a family on one income can be difficult. The financial burden for single mothers in the United States is very real. Even if a single mother does not experience the loss of a job, she can face countless financial emergencies that range from paying to repair storm damage to taking care of unexpected medical expenses. Whatever the reason for the dire consequences caused by a major financial hit, a woman raising a family on her own might need to tap into sources of emergency cash for single mothers to ride out a financial storm.

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In this article, we provide an overview of being a single mother in the United States, followed by reviewing potential sources of emergency cash for single mothers and listing a few tips that should help single mothers rely less on short-term funding.

Overview of Being a Single Mother in the United States

A single mom with a child.

The numbers are staggering. In the United States, there are nearly 10 million families led by a single mother. According to the United States Department of Labor, the unemployment rate for single mothers hovers around 25 percent. The ridiculously high percentage means more than two million single mothers at any given time are unemployed. Federal government statistics do not take into account the additional millions of single mothers that are underemployed, which is defined as someone that has a job but works in a position below her professional qualifications.

It is one thing to be a single mother raising a teen; it is quite another thing for a single mother to raise an infant. Not only are the parenting obligations much more significant, but single mothers of infants also have to deal with myriad financial emergencies that often stem from health care issues. With almost 70 percent of infants born to single mothers under the age of 30, we have a recipe for a major financial calamity.

Single mothers of young children have to deal with paying for daycare, which can run thousands of dollars per year. Add to daycare the large list of medical expenses, from mandated inoculations to taking care of common colds, and single mothers have little or no chance of winning the battle with money. Desperation sets in, with many single mothers taking out questionable bank loans or maxing out credit cards to raise emergency cash.

Fortunately, single mothers – even the 40 percent who are below the poverty line – have several effective options for raising emergency cash. The methods we suggest do not require taking out loans that include exorbitant interest rates or pawning off valuable possession to meet a rent or mortgage payment.

Emergency Cash Sources for Single Mothers

Cash standing in a rolled state.

The reasons for generating emergency cash for single mothers vary depending on the severity of the financial crisis. As a single mother, you might need just an overdraft loan to help pay a utility bill. On the other hand, the loss of a job requires the implementation of emergency cash plans that have financial staying power.

The Power of Garage Sales

A garage sale.

Let’s assume you receive a two-week unemployment notice or something along a similar line that gives you at least some time to prepare for a major financial setback. One of the most effective ways to raise emergency cash for single mothers involves planning and holding a multiple-day garage sale. Planning involves selecting the personal items you want to put up for sale, as well as choosing the best weekend to hold the sale. You also need to figure out the times you want to be open for business. Holding a yard sale to generate emergency cash for single mothers may help you avoid needing to borrow a cash advance or payday loan.

Second Job/Odd Jobs

Group of people waiting for a job interview.

Single mothers can address emergency cash needs by taking on a second job. Yes, this requires you to perform more scheduling miracles than you do now. However, a second job not only helps chip away at costly emergency expenses, but it also acts as a security buffer in case you lose your primary source of income. You can also do what you did when during childhood and adolescence by performing odd jobs for friends, neighbors, and relatives. Picking up a few lawn cutting or snow shoveling customers can ease the financial burden caused by the need to raise emergency cash for single mothers.

Put the Kids to Work

If you are one of the majority of single others under the age of 30, you probably do not have the option of putting your kids to work performing odd jobs. However, there are still millions of single mothers that raise teenagers. Even if your kid is not eligible to work because of age restrictions, he or she can help out by cutting grass, shoveling snow, and walking dogs that live nearby in the neighborhood. If you have one or more kids that are age-eligible to work, you can generate extra cash to take care of emergency expenses.

Cash-In Investments

A woman cashing in her investments.

Although cashing in financial investments to raise emergency cash for single mothers might not gain the seal of approval from the financial gurus on television, it is an effective way to increase cash flow, without resorting to taking out a high-interest short-term loan. We recommend starting with any certificate of deposits (CDs) you own and then move on to stocks and bonds if you need more cash to handle emergency expenses. Just remember that liquidating short-term assets can trigger bank fees, as well as state and federal tax penalties. Use this strategy if you need to raise cash for today or tomorrow.

Tap into a Life Insurance Policy

If you purchased a whole life insurance policy some time ago, you might have accrued enough equity in the policy to access emergency cash. Consider the equity in a life insurance policy like a loan that does not require you to pay taxes. You can also cash out the entire value of a life insurance policy, but tax obligations might kick in and more importantly, you lose the coverage protecting your children.

Bank Overdraft Loan

Instead of having to plan a yard sale or work more hours at a second job, taking out an overdraft loan can be the financial cure for what ails you. Your bank or credit union must offer the service called overdraft protection on your checking account, which allows you to pay a utility bill or purchase a weekly allowance of food by writing a check that otherwise would come back with the word “void.” Make sure to verify what your bank or credit union charges for interest on an overdraft loan. One more caveat: you can lose the checking account if you do not pay back the overdraft loan in a timely manner.

Financial Tips for Single Mothers

Mother and small child in loving embrace.

According to Pew Research, 22 percent of estranged fathers see their kids more than one time a week. The average amount paid in monthly child support is around $300. Single mothers assume a huge financial responsibility that requires meticulous planning and a bold vision on how to sustain a prosperous lifestyle. Somehow though, single mothers rarely hear about one of the most important financial tips of all.

Earn as much money as you can.

Most single mothers already find themselves in precarious financial situations. This means single mothers must take chances to stay above tumultuous financial waters. Instead of becoming complacent in your current job, spend time outside of work learning new skills that make you more valuable to prospective employers. Consider earning a college degree or if you already have a diploma, shoot for the career stars by enrolling in an advanced degree program. Starting your own business represents another way to achieve financial independence.

Let’s review some other ways single mothers can achieve financial independence.

Prioritize the Family Budget

The first order of business is to spend time revising the family budget to reflect spending priorities. Instead of allocating part of the weekly paycheck to dining out and taking in a few movies at an expensive cinema, pare down the family budget by cooking at home and watching movies you rent or stream. Your family budget should include an emergency savings fund that helps you navigate future financial crises.

Speaking of Emergency Savings

A mother and her young daughter working on an emergency savings plan.

We cannot emphasize enough the importance of creating a family emergency fund to reduce the financial pressure of a major crisis. Some employers allow employees to contribute to monthly accounts that offer access to emergency funds when the time comes for addressing major financial commitments. You should make establishing an emergency family fund one of your top priorities. Try to contribute to the emergency fund every month.

Live a Debt Free Lifestyle

A young girl running through a field with a kite in her hand.

One of the most effective strategies to avoid falling into greater debt is to reduce debt whenever possible. Although you should carry one credit card to have access to emergency cash, you should stop using the credit card to make purchases that charge you exorbitant interest. Reduce your credit balances by making monthly payments and purchase household items that you need, not want, by using cash. Eliminate other types of debt, such as car and student loans, to free up more monthly cash for family savings.

Ask for Help with Daycare

A group of kids at daycare.

Daycare is an expensive monthly expense for single mothers. Your employer might offer free daycare, or you can shop for a facility that falls within the family budget. However, chances are the best way to save money on daycare is to lean on friends and relatives to watch your children while you pursue a career. Free daycare can result in just a couple hours out of every day, but the savings add up quickly to give you a larger fund for taking care of emergency expenses down the road.

Avoid High-Interest Loans

The apparent convenience of applying for a short-term loan may appeal to you. Payday lenders may not perform credit checks (though most usually do), and the approval process can take only a few minutes. In as soon as one business day, you can have cash in your checking account.

However, payday loans may not be the best option for fast cash. Many loan providers charge higher interest rates for this type of funding. You might enjoy a temporary financial stay, but the money borrowed can be very expensive to pay back.


Single mothers hoping to avoid financial instability likely won’t be able to do so through a few money management tips. It is a lot harder than that. Life throws numerous unexpected financial obstacles that can spoil even the best set plans. By preparing for the financial version of Murphy’s Law, single mothers may be able to find emergency cash.

Jim Hughes, author at OpenLoans
Director of Content/Chief Editor
With over a decade of experience in the financial and business sectors, Jim Hughes is a leading voice in personal finance and loans.
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