There is a lot of support and advice for single moms in the U.S. around food, housing, medical care, and even career advice. Moreover, I’m sure every single parent have been offered advice on how to get help with but bills, finances, and more. But, how do you start to dig yourself out of a hole when you can’t pay your utility bills and are being threatened with having your services cut off?
It always strikes me that those who give advice to those without money, generally have money and more importantly: time.
Time to work out what to do next, time and space to just breathe and stop feeling the debilitating fight or flight rush that is constantly with you when you have money worries.
For single mom’s it’s a kind of Maslov’s hierarchy of needs: first air, then food and shelter.
- 1 Maslov’s Hierarchy of Needs
- 2 What are Utility Bills?
- 3 What Help can Single Parents get with Bills?
- 4 Single Parent Help with Utility Bills
- 4.0.1 Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- 4.0.2 WAP – Weatherization Assistance Program
- 4.0.3 American Water H20 Help To Others Program
- 4.0.4 PEO Program for continuing education
- 4.0.5 The U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development
- 4.0.6 Community Action Organizations
- 4.0.7 Catholic Charity
- 4.0.8 Do apps help?
- 5 In Conclusion:
Maslov’s Hierarchy of Needs
The Maslov pyramid illustrates human need from our most basic needs right up until our highest actualizations, in a pyramid from base to tip.
Let’s look at the foundational needs, right at the bottom.
Humans, first and foremost need air, water, food, shelter, sleep, clothing, and reproduction in order to survive.
Utilities fall under shelter as they are part of the most basic of human needs. In the same way, you can’t look for work on an empty stomach, you can’t start researching for help with your bills if you and your kids are sitting in the dark without electricity due to your utilities being cut off.
I would like to add “time” to our list of needs. If you are the primary caregiver, especially of a disabled child, you don’t have the resource of time to research, investigate and solve issues like utility bill payments.
Air, Water, and Shelter:
These are all irreplaceable human needs. After breathing we need water and after water, we need food and shelter. Shelter includes heat, light, and clothing. Utility bills pay for our most basic needs.
What are Utility Bills?
Utility bills are mainly for services such as water, gas, electricity, sewers, home phones, mobile phones, and broadband. For the purposes of this article, let’s concentrate on water, gas, and electricity.
Some interesting facts:
- The average U.S. household spends $2000 a year on utilities.
- From 2007 to 2011 there was a steady decrease in dual-income households. (Dual income is defined as one parent working full time, the other part-time.)
- The average salary in the U.S. for men is: $38461 per year according to the United States Census Bureau (USB) 2019
- The average salary in the U.S. for women is $25 307 per year according to the United States Census Bureau (USB) 2019
- Average rent in the U.S. $784 per month according to https://www.apartmentlist.com/research/national-rent-data
- Single Mom portion of U.S. population of total 331 million people in 2019 is 14.84 million https://www.statista.com/statistics/205000/number-of-families-with-a-single-mother-in-the-us/
How to ask for help with bills as a single parent?
- Try not to compare yourself with everyone around you. We all have different challenges
- Remember that money or lack of it does not define you.
- Start a gratitude journal and a “things I am great at” journal.
- Face the financial facts with courage and humor and take action.
What Help can Single Parents get with Bills?
Hopebe.org offers $100 towards Childcare Assistance per week and up to $400 for rent assistance in addition to other life skills and emotional support. They do not specifically offer financial assistance for utility bills, but at least their help will free up some time.
The Benefits Depot is a great informational resource for emergency funds and other grants. In a recent article, it stated that Gavin Newsom, the Governor of California is planning to distribute $50 million in Community Power Resiliency grants to help with utility-initiated rolling blackouts and power shut-offs.
On help.american-solutions.net/ I found Welfare or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). They offer temporary cash and food assistance for single, low-income mothers. This is a federal financial grant.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture runs WIC the Women, Infants, and Children Program which offers financial assistance to low-income pregnant women or low-income women with children under the age of 5 years.
The Child Tax Credit gives up to $2000 in tax breaks for each child living with a single mother or family.
The Additional Child Tax Credit gives you a payment for each child even if you don’t owe any tax.
While this is not specifically money in hand for utilities, food assistance takes care of one of our basic needs. You can also get medical aid, housing assistance, child care assistance, and study grants as a single mom.
So where can you actually find help with utility bills?
That is where these programs come in. Take a look.
Single Parent Help with Utility Bills
This federal program helps individuals and families in low-income groups to pay their energy bills, and in some cases offers home repairs related to energy issues.
This program helps you keep your home warm in winter and cool in summer. The US Department of Energy provides WAP assistance to low-income communities by helping them make their homes more energy-efficient.
This is an assistance program provided by the Pennsylvania American Water Company. It offers one-time grants of up to $500 per household, as well as an 80% discount on monthly services. They also provide smart water devices and education on smarter water consumption.
They offer single moms a one-time grant of up to $3000 which can be used for childcare, utilities, or whatever you need most, but you must be enrolled in a certification or degree program that you will be able to complete within the next 24 months. Another eligibility requirement is that you had or have taken at least 2 years off from completing your degree because you had or were having children.
Religious organizations and charities like YWCA and United Way can also provide assistance to single mothers struggling to pay their utility bills.
They give housing vouchers to qualifying disabled families to help pay their rent.
CAO offer various types of assistance from paying utility bills to job training. Case managers are assigned to families to help them reduce debt, find jobs and teach them about self-sufficiency.
Regardless of your religious background the Catholic Charity will help by paying utility bills, and providing short-term loans to low-income families including single mom families across the U.S.
The Salvation Army assists 23 million Americans yearly, in a myriad of ways.
It might also help to do the survey on the American Hope Resource to see if you qualify for utility benefits.
Do apps help?
When searching for utility bill assistance one can be bombarded with various money apps that help you track income and expenses, and also calculate what you can afford. As useful as these apps are, they don’t help if you don’t actually have the money in hand to pay your bills.
Nevertheless, it is still worth it to take a look apps like Do Not Pay
Do not Pay is an app that will write a letter (for you) to your creditors explaining your payment difficulties. You can ask for extension dates for your bills with this app… as I said before…sometimes we just need a bit of time.
Remember these tips:
- Research and apply
- Remember that everything is negotiable
- Don’t be ashamed when asking for help
- Don’t overconsume – reuse and recycle
- Don’t panic. Everything will be ok.
Finally, we hope you found what you were looking for in this article. However, if you still feel like you need some financial help, check out our articles on loans for single mothers or budgeting advice for single moms.