Saving money for medical emergencies, children’s tuition, special occasions, new homes, and a rainy day is challenging enough in dual-income homes, and even more so for a single mother.
Not only is the single mother without the support and safety net of a partner’s income, but the single mom also doesn’t have the extra time to find ways of generating additional income.
A single mother is the entirety of their child or children’s emotional support, providing guidance, nurturing and instruction. However, a single mother is also responsible for feeding, clothing, and putting a roof over her children’s heads, which makes stretching every last dollar and minute of utmost importance.
Here are some ways a single mom can save those precious dollars and stretch that budget so that she can take care of her children now, and in the future.
While cutting coupons or finding deals online may seem like an unnecessary expenditure of time, those who have learned how to use coupons and in store deals can save up to 80 percent off the original grocery bill total. Combining coupons with store sales is an amazing way to save money on brand-name shelf-stable items and other necessities.
If you don’t want to clip coupons, peruse your local grocery store circulars for the best deals on fresh produce and meat. Buy generic brands where possible—sometimes the cost savings of generic brands are greater than buying brand names with coupons.
Shop for clothing and other basics in second-hand or discount stores
Consignment and thrift stores are filled with clothing and household necessities at incredibly discounted prices. Some second-hand stores even feature designer or contemporary brand clothing for a bit of a “splurge.” Pick up housewares, furniture, and clothing for yourself and your children at a fraction of the original prices at thrift stores and consignment stores.
For regular household essentials, like paper towels, toilet paper, or toiletries, 99 Cents Only stores, Smart and Final stores, or Big Lots! locations are excellent places to get discounted prices, if you don’t plan on using coupons to buy those items in a grocery store.
Most of these so-called discount stores carry the same brand name products as normal big box stores like Target, Walmart, and Kmart—the only difference is that the products are at steeply reduced prices.
Save on childcare with local afterschool programs
Most single mothers work at least one full-time job, if not more, which means that a very young child, or a child that can not be left alone after school will need child care of some sort. As any parent knows, childcare can be very expensive, eating up a good portion of the paycheck that could be saved for tuition or emergencies.
To save on childcare, consider enrolling your child or children into their public schools after school programs or extracurricular activities. Not only will they have an enriched learning experience from the additional exposure to programs, lessons, and activities that are not part of the regular school program, but also you can rest easy, knowing that your child is in a safe and familiar place, learning and exploring.
If your school doesn’t offer afterschool programming, look into your local community center or YMCA. Both should offer inexpensive classes and activities to keep the little ones busy while you finish your workday.
Saving for your children’s future
The best way to save money is to have it taken out of your account before you even realize the money was there. Enroll in a college savings plan for your children that will automatically withdraw an amount, set by you, into the savings account. A 529 plan is a common and popular plan for college tuition savings.
DIY … everything
While doing it all yourself may be time consuming, consider it a great way to save money, to be more chemical-free, and possibly to bond with your children, if you work on the DIY projects together.
Want a pampering facial? Use ingredients you already have in the kitchen to throw together a relaxing, rejuvenating skin care treatment. Instead of buying bleach and other harsh cleansers, use inexpensive baking soda and vinegar to clean your home. Save money on groceries by growing a small garden, indoors or out.
DIY projects are also a great way to keep children entertained, while teaching them important skills that can come in handy in the future.
Saving money as a single mother can be challenging, but not impossible. With some smart shopping tricks, and a willingness to spend a little extra time (though with your children), you can save enough to make a difference in your children’s near and far future. Every little bit counts—so implement these tips today.
About the Author:
Dave Landry Jr. is a financial consultant and freelance accountant who contributes frequently to several well-known finance blogs in order to assist people in financial crises, from debt management to bankruptcy issues. As a single father of three little girls, Dave understands the difficulties of solo parenthood and enjoys addressing the matter in hopes of providing useful info for single parents.
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