Updated: September 9, 2020
Last week, a fitness instructor in my gym got into a fatal accident, leaving behind his wife and a baby.
Sympathies were shared among the members of the gym, but also, concerns were raised as to how the wife will now be able to move forward financially.
It will be a challenge as she joins the more than 14 million Filipinos who are solo parents in the country.
If you belong to this demographic or know someone who is, then the money strategies below can certainly help them manage their finances better.
Defining the Solo Parent
A solo parent is not just a widow. According RA 8972 or the Solo Parents’ Welfare Act of 2000, they are and I quote:
- A woman who gives birth as a result of rape and other crimes against chastity even without a final conviction of the offender, provided that the mother keeps and raises the child.
- Parent left solo or alone with the responsibility of parenthood due to the following circumstances:
- Due to death of spouse.
- Spouse is detained or is serving sentence for a criminal conviction for at least one (1) year.
- Physical and/or mental incapacity of spouse as certified by a public medical practitioner.
- Legal separation or de facto separation from spouse for at least one (1) year, as long as he/she is entrusted with the custody of the children.
- Declaration of nullity or annulment of marriage as decreed by a court or by a church as long as he/she is entrusted with the custody of the children.
Why is it important to define who are considered solo parents under the law? Because RA 8972 explicitly gives them a number of benefits!
Solo Parent Benefits under RA 8972
Solo parents are entitled to seven (7) days extra leave credits every year. Now, you don’t have to worry about missing some of the important events in your child’s life.
Moreover, you have the right to request flexible work schedules as long it doesn’t affect your productivity. This gives you the opportunity to work from home or come to the office later to have more time for parental duties in the morning.
Talk to your direct supervisor and your company HR to discuss this because they may not be aware that you have such privileges.
Furthermore, you can also avail yourself of the educational benefits given by the Department of Education (DepED), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
This is especially helpful for those who need to enhance their existing skills to find a job or get promoted at work.
Lastly, there are also provisions on low-cost housing projects and medical assistance, as well as discounts on baby essentials such as clothes, milk, food supplements, and medicines.
As defined by the same law, anyone who has a child dependent can enjoy these benefits. It is not limited to biological parents but includes individuals who are taking care of a nephew or niece, for example.
Moreover, the “child” doesn’t have to be less than 18 years old, they can be well over eighteen years as long as they are incapable of self-support due to mental or physical defect or disability.
These are just an overview of benefits. If you’re interested to learn more, I highly encourage you to visit the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) office nearest you. That’s also where you will avail the Solo Parent ID, by the way.
Basic personal finance always applies. This means, like everyone else, solo parents should practice smart money management.
Monitor your spending, create a budget, minimize debt, and strive to live below your means. But also, find multiple sources of income, create an emergency fund, have health and life insurance, and learn how to invest to grow your wealth.
Solo parents usually have full-time jobs, which often leads to unnecessary spending for their child to make up for their absence. Resist buying gifts you can’t afford just to compensate. Instead, strive to spend quality time with them.
Giving them your full attention for at least an hour every day at home can make a big difference, and will be appreciated more than simply buying them new clothes or the latest gadgets.
Also, a special note for spouses of OFW’s who are not solo parents, but are still left with the challenge of raising their children alone – take advantage of the money being sent to you by finding ways to making it grow. You can invest or start a business, and help your spouse come back home.
Lastly, with all the expenses on your shoulder, preparing for retirement may be the last thing on your mind as a solo parent. However, it is important to NOT neglect this. Any amount that you can regularly save and invest for your retirement will surely help.
Are you a solo parent? If so, then I’m hoping to hear from you, so please share your stories and other financial tips in the comments section. Thank you.