smart spending

Financial planning tips for single parents

Tip No. 2: Save for college
Tip No. 2: Save for college © Joe Belanger/Shutterstock.com

"If you need to make a choice between saving for retirement or paying college tuition, choose yourself," says author Cullinane. "Helping your child with college expenses is admirable, but don't do it at the cost of your own future."

Ten Haagen is equally blunt: "This (saving for college) should not be a priority if money is a concern." He points out that a student can go to college with a grant, scholarship or loan, but if you need to buy a loaf of bread (or retire!) you have to have money in hand. "Have the child get some skin in the game," he suggests. "It can be some, most or all of it if you can't afford it."

Cullinane also suggests that families in this position consider a community college, which can provide a quality education affordably. "They are less expensive than four-year colleges, and most have agreements with four-year institutions so your child will be automatically accepted as a junior in a four-year college if they receive their two-year degree, and their diploma will show the four-year institution on it."

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