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Single Moms: Frugal Living Tips for Single Mothers

Updated on April 8, 2012

Being a single parent is hard. You have to take care of the kids, day in and day out, even when you are sick or tired. You have to steer the ship and make all the decisions and hope they are the right ones. You probably can't even afford a ship. You have to bring in the money so the children are fed and clothed. Your time and energy are devoted to the children, and money is always tight.

How can you survive with money management when you don't have the time or energy to do it?

Being a single parent is difficult, but there are ways you can save money and make sure you can provide for your children's needs.
Being a single parent is difficult, but there are ways you can save money and make sure you can provide for your children's needs. | Source


I know that budgeting seems like a bad thing, and might think that you don't have the time to do it. However, it is a very important step, especially if you suddenly find yourself alone. It is important for you to evaluate your finances and make sure that you find a way to make ends meet. Your children need food, clothing, and shelter, and you need to make sure there is room in your budget for all of those. You might have to take some temporary drastic measures to make sure that your standard of living is in balance with your new financial situation.

You may feel like you need to provide the same standard of living to your child as other children who have two parents. This is not always possible, and if it is not possible in your case, do not fret. Being poor does have its advantages and your child will be stronger for having gone through it. In fact, even if you aren't poor, it is helpful not to overindulge your child.

Depending on your situation, this may mean moving in with your parents temporarily, getting a roommate, or selling your car and using public transportation. It may also mean finding ways to increase your revenue by getting child support or public assistance.

Once you have done the big things, there are plenty of ways you can keep reducing your expenses so that you can finally get ahead and be able to save some money as well. Here are some cost cutting measures you can use as a single parent.

A quality daycare does not have to be expensive.
A quality daycare does not have to be expensive. | Source

Child Care

Child care is one of the largest expenses of any parent. It is even harder for a single parent who does not have the help of her spouse to fill in when she is not available.

You have to work to make money and most employers will not allow you to bring your child into the workplace. There are several ways you can reduce your childcare expenses.

  • When finding a daycare provider, be sure to check around for their rates. Prices vary tremendously from provider to provider, and are not necessarily linked to quality of care.
  • Be sure to negotiate the price and ask for discounts or ways to reduce the cost. Some providers will reduce the price if you bring a box of cereal, for example, or if you spend some time working at the daycare center.
  • Consider asking a retired family member to watch the child while you are working. You may even think about having them watch the child some days, and take the child to the daycare other times.
  • There are government programs that will help with childcare expenses. Contact your local Health and Human Services office and find out if you are eligible.
  • See if your employer offers any assistance with childcare. Some may help you with finding quality daycare, while others may have services available onsite.
  • When you are not working, consider taking the children with you wherever you go or trade babysitting service with a trusted friend or neighbor.
  • When your child is old enough, consider letting her stay at home alone after school. Be sure she can handle staying home alone, and check the local laws to make sure she is legally old enough to stay home. Be sure to discuss the ground rules with her, such as not answering the door, and have her call you as soon as she gets home to let you know she is there.
  • Sometimes you need to take some time away from the kids. I liked to take a vacation day or half a day from work, and spend the day by myself while my daughter was still in daycare. This is valuable recharging time and you should not deprive yourself of that time.

Formula and Diapers

For a parent with a baby, the cost of formula and diapers will be a significant part of the budget. There are some ways to help reduce these costs.

  • Nurse the baby for as long as possible. Not only will this save you a great deal of money, it is also healthier for the baby. You can use the breast pump at work during lunches or breaks, or you can choose to nurse the baby only when you are home.
  • Be sure to compare prices for formula and diapers. Since you can go through these items pretty quickly, you may be able to buy them in bulk by yourself or share with a friend to save money.
  • There is also a government program, WIC, which can help you with formula. Be sure to check with your Health and Human Services to see if you qualify.
  • Consider using cloth diapers instead of disposable. This may seem like it takes a great deal of effort, but putting them in the wash every night really isn't as hard as you might think, especially if you have laundry facilities in your home.

Clothes, Toys and Supplies

You want your children to have the best of everything, but they do not have to have everything. Here are some ways to get quality toys and supplies without going broke.

  • Limit the number of things you buy. Your child does not need every single Star Wars Lego set. One or two will be enough to keep them occupied. In fact, fewer toys will help inspire creativity, and it will be easier to keep the place clean.
  • Spend time with the children. You can be their best plaything. There are many cheap and free things you can do with them, like go to the park, library, or museum, or have a picnic. Make a tent out of blankets and go camping indoors. Put water in balloons and play catch with them outdoors.
  • Consider shopping in thrift stores, yard sales, and discount stores for toys. Just be sure to wash them thoroughly before using.
  • Trade toys with friends if you want to give your children variety.
  • I often gave my daughter's outgrown clothes to a friend, and received outgrown clothes from the same or other friends.
  • Be sure to bargain shop for supplies and use coupons whenever you can.


Living Frugally as a Single Mother

Being a single parent is difficult, but you do not have to do it alone. Be sure to ask for and use the help of your friends and family members. You can steer the boat with a smile on your face, and let your child grow in a healthy and loving environment.

© 2012 Shasta Matova

Comments: "Frugal Living Tips for Single Mothers"

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    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      Thank you. I hope your daughter finds it useful as well.

    • profile image

      sellhousefastusa 5 years ago from Sell house for cash in new york , brooklyn, queens, long island, bronx & nationwide !

      Great tips will have to share with my daughter who is a single parent and young only 21...

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      Thank you ashleyvanillilife - I am glad you found it helpful.

    • ashleyvanillilife profile image

      Elle Lewis 5 years ago from South East Asia Maritime Section - Phils

      Thanks for sharing great and practical advise for single parents. Voted up!

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      Thank you teaches12345. I know I hesitated many times to ask for help, but found that there were many people who relished the chance to do something worthwhile, and have fun playing with the child. It gave them the chance to see the G rated movies and play in the snow without getting embarrass!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      This is great advice for single parents out there. In chatting with some of my single-parent moms I hear that they sometimes feel overwhelmed with all the responsibilities. Your hub mentions that they need to express their needs and allow family and friends to help them. I agree and know this will make a good difference for them. Great hub!

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      Thank you Pinkchic18. Thrift store shopping makes so much sense. Most clothing you buy at a department store is used anyway (in that it has been tried on by someone else), so you might as well save money and get the discount.

    • Pinkchic18 profile image

      Sarah Carlsley 5 years ago from Minnesota

      Great tips. I find a lot of great stuff at thrift stores!

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      Thank you itakins, tammyswallow, and GoodLady. I am glad that you have also seen the benefits of going through life as a single parent.

    • GoodLady profile image

      Penelope Hart 5 years ago from Rome, Italy

      You made some wonderfully helpful suggestions here. I too brought up two sons with very little financial assistance from their father but it made them so resourceful and so responsible for their own lives later on.

      They always say what a great life we had living out in the country making things work! They can't remember how tough it all was. "It was just great" they say!

      It's all in staying close and making it work no matter what...and this is possible.

      Thanks so much for a wonderful Hub, bringing all the hardship and the triumph over it back!

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Great tips Millionaire Tips! I raised 3 teen boys with NO help and it is VERY hard. The only good thing about it is that they had to learn to be resourceful and hardworking to get things they wanted outside of the budget. Great ideas.

    • itakins profile image

      itakins 5 years ago from Irl

      Such sensible tips for all parents-many of us need to tighten up on the 'over-indulgence',which never does much good for a child anyway!

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      Thank you Daughter of Maat.

    • Daughter Of Maat profile image

      Melissa Flagg COA OSC 5 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      Great tips, I agree with I Am Rosa.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 5 years ago from USA

      Thank you IAmRosa, that's true, every parent can use these frugal living tips.

    • I Am Rosa profile image

      Rosa Marchisella 5 years ago from Canada

      Excellent tips for *EVERY* parent, not just the single ones :-)