Surviving as a Widower With Children

by Joanne Pritchard Wiradilaga

Dear Joanne,
As a recent widower with grade school daughter, I am very worried about the loss of our family's second income...which was also the larger of the two. I am working less productively because child-rearing takes a LOT of time, and the income is barely enough to make ends meet. A smaller home, taking in a boarder...are these things realistic considerations?? Also, am I not entitled, like so many many working moms, to request fewer hours at the old 9-to-five, so that meals and preparation for school can be accomplished? What's a poor daddy to do?

My condolences at the loss of a wife and mother. I answer questions regularly on Moms Online via AOL as AMOM CLEAN the Cleaning Pro.

Your dilemma on where to find time, extra money and a sense of balance sometimes is right in front of you:

  • There are community outreach programs that provide safe environments for children.....YW or YMCA, after school programs that are available for those parents that need to work extended hours. Scholarships are also to the manager of the facility.

  • Ask a neighbor or a friend to watch the children....someone that you know and are very comfortable with. Work out a payment or hour schedule for you and the children. You might be able to defray costs by using a service of your own, in trade for the care of the children.

  • Consider working out of the home....start your own business or work extended hours and then request a day off a week. I am sure that management is aware of the difficult situation that you are faced with. They might have a solution for the asking.

  • Cut coupons regularly. Ask members of the family to save the coupon fliers for you. Set up an organized system.....marking inexpensive expandable coupon wallets with the Month. I have 6 such envelopes....separated and cataloged for easy use, whenever I go to the store. I purchased the envelopes and the plastic carrying bin (small enough to fit in the seat of the cart) from the Dollar store. I have gotten up to saving 51% of my weekly grocery order. Watch the grocery, drug store and retail market weekly fliers. Check your coupons and shop at the stores with the best prices that double or triple your coupons.

  • Cut coupons for sit down and fast food restaurants. Keep an envelope with restaurant coupons in the car, for easy access. Many fast food restaurants have certain days/hours for specials. The local Burger King, in our area, has a different special every day of the week. When hamburgers are 39 cents, I purchase a few, freeze them and have them ready for the boys when they come home from school.

  • Talk to the various departments in the grocery store. I shop at different times of the day for the following reasons: one of the local stores discounts it's meat department between 7am and noon, daily. This discount is for meat that is close to the "sell by date"...never expired. Freeze the purchases. At another store they discount the bakery, produce and deli areas after 7:30pm. The employees are willing to share this information, just ask!

  • Shop at bread and food outlets: Wonderbread outlet, I have found has terrific prices! I paid 34 cents for loaves of King, Family and Raisin breads. Sometimes the location of an item determines the price of the item. I saw that the lower the shelf ...the lower the price. Scratch and dent food outlets can really assist you in stretching your dollar. I left the store with cans, jars, frozen, dried and fresh food.......7 bags full for app. $40! And no coupons were used.

  • Check the library for money saving publications (books or magazines). Also, many of your local libraries have a Free video lending department.

  • Do research on money saving or frugality sites on the Internet.

  • Shop at Dollar Stores. You would be surprised to find the variety of items that are available for a dollar or more.

Additional Resources

Child-Care Subsidy Hotline   (800) 424-2246
There is help for high daycare costs! The National Association of Child Care Resources is a federally-funded agency that will provide helpful information about assistance in your area. They will help you find all the options for child care payment assistance programs.

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We're still paying off last Christmas and worry how we'll afford the holidays this year without charging it again! Tell us: Yes, we could use help getting out of the debt trap we're in! or No, debt is not a problem for us but I'm always looking for ways to trim my family's expenses further!

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