Being a single mother can mean being in complete charge of your household. Some single mothers have to run their house on a single income. This can get overwhelming mainly because of the desperation to secure your own future, all while still giving your children great experiences.
Embracing spending creativity and a frugal lifestyle can help you achieve a comfortable life for your family now and in the future.
Looking for ways to keep going as a single mom? These 15 frugal living tips can help you get your finances in control.
1. Create a Budget and Track Expenses
Create a budget to help you allocate money correctly. Ensure your budget for all fixed and varied expenses. Let your budget highlight how much you intend to spend on variable expenses such as groceries, transportation, and entertainment, and ensure to stick to the allocated amounts.
Simply put, your budget should be as comprehensive as possible, mainly if operating on a single income.
Ensure to track every coin you spend. You do not want to have loopholes and not understand where your money went.
2. Cook Meals at Home and Meal Plan
Cooking meals at home will save you so much money, which you can put into something else. Buy your groceries weekly, and prepare meals for your family at home.
Meal plan for the whole week and cook in batches for the entire week. Cooking in batches will not only save you money as a single mom. It will save you a lot of time and effort; which is very instrumental if you have nobody to help with chores.
Also, meal planning helps in portion control, which reduces food wastage.
Lastly, avoid getting takeout as much as you can. If you really have to, let it be a planned treat for you and the kids. You will save money while at it and appreciate the takeout food even more.
3. Shop Sales and Use Coupons
Whether it is groceries, children’s clothes, or toys, always take advantage of sales.
However, do not buy items just because they are on sale. Only take advantage of sales to bulk buy items you need.
You also want to collect and use coupons while checking out. While it may help reduce just a few bucks per shopping trip or online checkout, it will add up in the long run.
Sign up on apps that offer coupons and promo codes; they will help you cut costs both in-store and on internet shopping.
4. Buy In Bulk for Cost Savings
Bulk in buying will help you save money on the price per item. According to SoFi, you can save 20% of the item’s price by buying it in bulk. They, however, add that depending on the item, the saving costs can go up to 50%.
Make the calculations before purchasing and see how much worth it would be.
Bulk buying also goes hand in hand with bulk cooking. If you buy all the groceries you need for the week, you can cook food for the entire week and freeze it to be eaten throughout the week.
Other than saving you time and effort, batch cooking has been found to be very energy-efficient.
5. Utilize Community Resources and Assistance Programs
There are a lot of community and government assistance programs that target single mothers. Depending on where you are, you may get food, housing, baby care, and even financial assistance. Look for community resources that may help single mothers and take advantage of them.
You can also join different local communities, such as food banks or people giving out items they no longer use or have in surplus. Don’t forget to look for all the free stuff you can get for babies and kids.
6. Shop at Thrift Stores for Affordable Clothing and Essentials
Don’t buy anything new unless you cannot find it in thrift stores. Whether you are looking for clothes, shoes, toys, kitchenware, tools, furniture or house decor, you can always find them in thrift stores.
Find the best locations in your neighborhood, and check in with them whenever you need anything.
If not, try your luck on Facebook Marketplace, yard sales, and other social media platforms where you can buy second-hand items.
Buying second-hand will help you get the items of need at only a fraction of their cost.
7. Set up a Support Network for Sharing Resources and Childcare
Childcare can be costly. As a single mom, many have no option but to use it, especially if they are going to work.
One good way to solve this would be to set up a support network with other single mothers in your town or neighborhood. You can then create schedules to exchange childcare and playdates when needed.
You can take it beyond childcare and share other resources such as books, toys, and even services such as cleaning.
8. Cut Unnecessary Subscriptions and Expenses
The last thing you want happening as a single mom is your money going into unnecessary expenses and subscriptions.
Take some time on a weekend and review your bank statements to filter out unused subscriptions and cancel them immediately. Consider canceling subscriptions you want to keep but never really have the time to use. It could be that online violin class you have wanted to finish for months, or that streaming service you hope to use every other evening or weekend.
9. DIY Home Repairs and Essential Maintenance
There are a lot of basic home maintenance services you can do without calling professionals. For instance, many HVAC technicians and even plumbers admit that they get called to perform simple maintenance and repair services that could take minutes to learn and execute.
According to This Old House, the national average for plumbers’ hourly charge is $100. This cost can go as high as $200, depending on what service they are offering you. If you learn to do some essential plumbing services, you will not have to call a plumber or other service providers whenever something small goes wrong.
10. Use Free or Low-Cost Entertainment Options for Your Family
Organize free and low-cost fun activities for your children in the evenings and on the weekends.
You can think of at-home activities such as cooking sessions, backyard picnicking, movie nights, board games, dance parties, fort building, or play dates and sleepovers with school friends.
You can also find cheap activities to do with them outside the house—a playdate at the park or a visit to aquariums and museums on free days.
11. Plan No-Spend Days or Weekends
You can almost always keep going with what you already have. For instance, if you spend $80 on food every week, you can skip grocery shopping for one week and dedicate it to clearing what is in your pantry.
There are food items lying in your pantry and freezer that could keep you going for that week.
No-spend challenges can be difficult to do for beginners, but they are doable. You can do it alone or in a group of like-minded people.
Plan and join social media no-spend days and weekends to find tips to keep going for longer.
12. Consider Carpooling or Using Public Transportation
Transportation takes a massive chunk of families’ income. You will save so much if you find ways to effectively cut it down.
Start driving everywhere and embrace public transport. This way, you will remember to cater to the expensive costs of running and maintaining a car.
When your children are older, you can do perfectly without a car; you have plan your days and errands along the public transport times.
You may also want to start carpooling with family and friends to save on fuel costs. Be sure also to check whether there are any carpooling sites you can use to share rides with people in your town.
13. Embrace Second-Hand Items for Children’s Needs
Children quickly outgrow their essentials. There is no need to spend a fortune on their clothes only for them to outgrow them in months. The same applies to their beds, toys, books and shoes.
Getting good quality second-hand children’s items is very easy because of the same reason; children outgrow their items very quickly. What you buy was likely used by another child for a very short time. Some items will be as good as new at a fraction of the price.
Look for items from thrift stores and online marketplaces. You can always ask your friends and family, who are also parents, if they have anything they would like to get rid of. There is always a parent looking to get rid of their stroller or feeding seats; ask people around you before you buy new ones.
14. Negotiate Bills and Seek Out Discounts
You can negotiate your everyday bills and hope to get some of it cut off. It may not always be successful, but there is a high chance of getting discounts when you request it.
Negotiate for subscriptions, medical bills, insurance, credit card interest rates, and service fees such as repairs and appliance maintenance.
Start by finding a good negotiating point, then call the service provider. If the bill is overwhelming, consider involving friends, family, or service providers who have successfully negotiated bills.
15. Prioritize Self-Care Without Overspending
There are a lot of things you can do for your self-care without splurging a lot of money. Choose budget-friendly self-care activities to unwind on weekends.
You can organize a spa day or night at home, movie night, book reading, yoga, sleep in on a weekend, nature walks, stargazing, spending time with loved ones, meditating and keeping a gratitude journal.
There is so much you can do alone or with friends and family that can help you relax and rejuvenate without spending a fortune.
Frugal Living Tips for Single Moms
Being a single mom can mean operating your household single-handedly, both financially and physically. If not well planned, things can get overwhelming and even seep into your kids’ lives.
Planning and living a frugal life as a single mom will help you keep going even while on a tight budget. Even more importantly, it will help you save as much as you can for a comfortable future for you and your kids. Embrace these frugal living tips that work for single moms to save as much as possible for the things that matter most to you and your kids.
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This article was produced and syndicated by A Dime Saved.