How much does it cost to be a single mom? A lot

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Parenting is pricey. We know that.

But, there are millions of single moms who have to bear the burden of bills by themselves. They’re busy balancing breast feeding with budgeting, packing lunches with planning for college – you know, proving they are the ultimate bosses.

I SALUTE you, single mamas.

If you’re expecting a baby in the coming months (or even years!), whether it’s solo or with a partner, it’s essential that you start saving now and sharpen those budgeting skills, because the cost of raising a child is crazy.

Still, that cost is notably crazier for single parents. While a report from the USDA found that expenses for a child rose as household income rose, and married couples spent slightly more on their child than a single parent, the cost gobbles up a greater percentage of income for single parents.

For single parents, the total cost to raise a child — from birth through age 17 — totals $172,200, according to the report.

The cost of being a single parent

Whoa.

Not only is that amount cringe-worthy, it can be crippling. An analysis of the living wage from MIT revealed that in order to earn a living wage, a typical family of four would need to work nearly two full-time minimum wage jobs, totaling a 77-hour work week per working parent.

That’s a lot, but for a single parent with two children, that number skyrockets. A single parent with two children needs to work the equivalent of 3 1/2 full-time jobs (139 hours per work week) — which is, of course, more hours than there are in the day during a five-day work week — to earn a living wage on a minimum wage income.

They say it takes a village, which is easy to understand with costs like that! Single moms, need some help alleviating that financial strain? Check out these resources:

  • The Mommies Network: This organization has chapters nationwide, and it serves as a place for moms to forge friendships. It’s a way for moms to connect and support one another, IRL, not behind a computer screen. Find your local chapter here.
  • National Diaper Bank Network: Diapers can cost $70 to $80 per month, according to the network, and those costs obviously add up fast! The National Diaper Bank Network,which connects and supports 315 community-based diaper banks, distributes free diapers to families in need. To find an agency in your area, check here.
  • Making more than the minimum: Making more than the minimum wage is an obvious game-changer. But those jobs can be seriously hard to come by! If you’re struggling to make ends meet, consider a work-from-home job that might pay more than the minimum, so you can also save on daycare costs. A few ideas include a web developer or designer, call center representative, medical transcriptionist or a virtual assistant. Need some cash so you can play Santa around the holiday season? You can score easy, extra cash with side hustles like participating in focus groups or taking online surveys.

Moms are heros. So, whether your mom raised you by herself or with a partner, celebrate her this Mother’s Day. She deserves it.

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Sarah Berger

I am a journalist and penny-pinching millennial living in New York City on a budget.