When you look at sacrificial acts of love, being a parent to foster children can be found somewhere near the top of the list. And while foster parents will always face a unique set of challenges, gaining control of your financial picture will ease a lot of the stress and anxiety associated with the experience.
3 Financial Tips and Suggestions
For every family, fostering children serves as a huge wakeup call in multiple areas of life. For one, it makes you aware of how many needs exist right here in your community. It allows you to see people in a different light, knowing that there’s often more to someone’s story than meets the eye.
On a more personal level, it forces you to be more strategic with the resources you have – especially your financial resources. Whereas you may have been free and easy with your spending in the past, throwing more children into the mix means every dollar needs to go further.
Make it worth with these simple tips:
- Come Up With a Budget
The first step is to come up with a budget. If you already have one, it’s time to revisit that budget and look for ways to be more strategic with how you spend and save.
For a lot of foster families, the envelope system works well. With this system, you tuck cash away in specific envelopes that have labels on them – such as groceries, gas, or entertainment. This allows you to see exactly how much you have left and makes it impossible to overspend (assuming you have the discipline to not dip into another envelope or use a credit card).
- Buy in Bulk
When you commit to fostering children, you know that you’ll have kids coming in and out of your house for different periods of time – often with just a few hours to prepare. One child might stay a week and never return, while another may stay for a year at a time.
In order to be prepared ahead of time, it’s smart to purchase items in bulk that you know you’ll need. Food is the first thing that comes to mind. Having a bunch of non-perishable items on hand will help you keep your pantry stocked. Backpacks are another practical example. Backpacks can get expensive, yet every child needs one at the beginning of the school year. By buying in bulk and storing in a closet, you can always have one ready to go.
- Take Advantage of Subsidies and Programs
Every state has some sort of program that provides foster parent subsidies and/or financial assistance. The amount you receive will depend on several factors, including the age and needs of the child. Depending on the state you’re located in and the other external factors in play, this could range from $300 all the way up to $800 or more per month.
It’s important that you use this money strategically and make sure it’s being spent in a way that benefits your foster children. This includes food, clothing, and other basic expenses. And you shouldn’t view the money as “payment,” but rather “assistance.” There will be months where you spend way more on a foster child than you receive, but that’s what you’re signing up for.
Don’t Let Money Hold You Back
While gaining control over your financial situation will certainly help your experience be a little smoother, don’t let money hold you back from becoming a foster parent. There are ways to make it work and you’ll find the room in your budget to iron out the details. The key is to be purposeful with how you spend your money and to stop wasting it on things that don’t matter.