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I huff and puff about budgets, systematic plans for the expenditure of fixed resources like money or time. Budgets are hard to accomplish for a married couple with children, but what about a single mother? At the networking functions I frequent and in my daily Queens travels, I am amazed and awed by some single mothers' financial accomplishments. They all have good family budgets.

Adding up your monthly income is easy, but totaling your expenses is not — and a lot trickier. Collect your bills, credit card statements, checkbook register, receipts and anything else you purchase with cash. Doing this effectively will take you about a month to accomplish. It is important to be accurate and not guess what you think "probably is" or "might be." Being accurate is important.

Now divide your spending into fixed and variable costs. Fixed costs include mortgage payments, rent or loan payments; variable costs include clothing, food, gas and entertainment. Creating a successful budget is the equivalent of going back to the gym: It is hard to get started and motivated, but once you do, it can become a healthy addiction.

For a single mother, having a sound budget can be a blessing. Once you manage spending, you can then decide which costs to cut and which are constant. For example, cutting down on driving or entertainment spending are things you can control. Your utility bill or tuition, however, probably cannot be controlled. Do not get caught in paying late fees and devastating your budget. Once you put what you spend in writing, you will be amazed to see how much money you waste.

So How's Business regarding single mothers' budgets? As a single mother, the core of having an effective budget is seeing your monthly spending needs and habits. Being a single parent is not easy, but a sound budget is a good place to start.

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