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Single Parent Money Saving Tips
Money Saving Ideas For Single Parents
Being a single parent has many challenges but few so great as maintaining a budget that ensures the needs of your children are met. It is difficult enough to maintain a household and budget with a two parent income these days, let alone doing it solo. It can be overwhelming at times; worrying where the next meal or bill payment money is going to come from is a stress that a huge majority of single parents face.
The most important thing you can do for yourself and your children when faced with a financial crunch is to sit down, take and honest look at your incoming dollar amount, outgoing expenses and plan a budget that you are able to stick with. Denial of the situation and going through the motions of living paycheck to paycheck is not going to help you get a grip on the situation and in time debt may sneak up on you to the point that it's beyond manageable. It's time to take action!
There are several ways that you can trim your expenses, all you need is a positive attitude and some careful planning. I'm not promising a windfall of cash or a permanent relief from the burden of financial obligations; however, following some of these tips can certainly lighten your financial load and ongoing stress. It can be a huge benefit to you and your family if you remain open to new ways of being frugal. Most people who have achieved financial success live frugal lifestyles. It doesn't mean we have to be "cheap" or live like paupers but we can cut back in many areas that in return will lighten the financial load in its entirety.
1. Use Coupons: Buy sale items or use coupons whenever possible. It may seem like a huge pain in the butt to cut coupons and store them until needed but doing so can save you anywhere from $50 to hundreds of dollars per month. There is a new trend called "extreme couponing" and it would amaze you to see the amounts of money people have saved from using coupons. I read of one instance where a shopper had a total bill of $175 dollars and ended up paying only $5 using her stack of coupons. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be able to be that disciplined but it sure does make one reconsider the value of coupons..
2. Less Expensive Vehicle
Buy or trade in your current vehicle for a less expensive one. This can either eliminate a monthly car payment or save you a significant amount of dollars per month. There are many places that sell reliable, safe vehicles for great prices, just be sure to have an experienced person help you with your purchase. It is also a good idea to have a complete inspection done on the vehicle before committing to buy. When I was a single parent I bought a second hand car, private sale on Kijiji for $2000.00, I drove it for a full year and sold it for $1800.00 when I relocated to another city.
3. Buy Generic:
Buy as much as you can generic: household items, cleaning products, prescriptions, toiletries, paper products, groceries etc. I acknowledge that there are some things that just aren't as good in their generic form and it's O.K. to remain true to items that you don't want to bend on, mine was ketchup and other grocery products. However, buying generic as much as possible you can save a huge amount of money over time.
4. Be Your Own Beautician:
Pamper yourself by doing your own hair, pedicures or manicures. These services can also be swapped with friends. If you have friends who specialize in one area, while you have talent in another- trade off! You can make a fun evening out of "salon night" which also saves money from your entertainment budget. It also wise to buy your make-up and other grooming products from drug stores instead of the cosmetic counter at more expensive stores.
5. In The Spirit of Swapping Services
You can save a significant amount of money each month buy swapping even more services than mentioned above with other parents. You can trade off babysitting services, car-pool to the children's extra curricular activities or again trade services in areas of speciality: clothing alterations, preparing tax returns etc. Also clothing swaps and even trading off outgrown books and toys would be beneficial trades as well. The possibilities are endless when you use your imagination.
Find the cheapest gas in your neighbourhood and keep your gas tank full enough that you don't have to stop somewhere more pricey in a pinch. Use regular gas when possible, assuming your owners manual doesn't say you must use a different type. This is a little change that can really add up.
7. Shop at Discount and Buy in Bulk:
Buy household items in bulk from discount stores such as Target, Wal-Mart, Zellers, Costco, etc. It may seem like a bigger expense at the time of purchase but the savings over time are quite siginificant. If there is a great deal on a certain item don't be afraid to stock up for a few months in advance.
8. Cook More, Dine Out Less:
This can be a huge savings over time and is so much more healthy for your family. Planning meals in advance saves those last minute hurried, expensive trips to the drive through. Many times a meal prepared at home has enough left overs for a lunch, snack (or two) to be covered for the next day.
9. Cut Back on Monthly Expenses:
Opt for a less elaborate cable package or a more economical long distance package. If you have a home phone but are always using a cell phone, cancel or have a minimal home phone package. Cancel unnecessary magazine or newspaper subscriptions as many articles can now be found online. These are little changes that can really add up
10. Entertainment Doesn't Have to Be Expensive:
Check your local library, school bulletin board or newspaper to find free activities that you can do to with your children. Rent movies instead of always going to the theatre. Organize fun activities with other parents and children at your local park or community center. Make crafts, get outdoors, play board games etc. With a little planning and imagination you can save a huge amount of dollars per month keeping the little ones entertained.
Being money conscious doesn't have to feel like a chore, curse or burden. You can make it into a fun challenge which brings rewarding results as you see your expenses go down. Sometimes as single parents we get feeling down and discouraged at how difficult it is to make ends meet. We forget to count our blessings because we are so worried about paying bills and providing for our children. Make saving money into something fun! Reward yourself from time to time with a great evening out with your children or if you are even more disciplined, tuck the extra money away for special expenses such as Christmas and Birthdays to lessen the stress when those "extra's" come up. Be frugal and be proud of it!!!