So many women want to know how to save money as a single mom. It is possible, I am doing it myself! Here are some steps to budget and watch what you spend. Note: I am not a financial adviser, just sharing my story.
Single mom budget tips
Are you a single parent that is financially struggling? Do you know a single mom looking for ways to make ends meet, without the stress, or a father who needs help saving money? Do the bills and emergencies come faster than your paychecks? This was me. No matter how many kids you have, your income, and what your expenses are, you have GOT to get your financial life together.
My financial picture after divorce
I was in a similar situation a year ago, my divorce was in the works and I was on my own for the first time ever, in my entire life. I had a job, but now I had to figure out where I was going to go, what I was going to do to handle all of these expenses that I would incur on my own.
Prior to this, the financial picture was blurry. Our family’s expenses outweighed our income, we had conflicts about what to spend money on, kept stupid debts, and had kids to feed on top of it. IT SUCKED. In order to settle my nerves and make ends meet without the stress, I had to learn how to save money as a single mom.
How to save money as a single mom
I dug my way out. I had to. I can’t even begin to explain to you the amount of weight that has been lifted from my shoulders. It can be hard to take care of yourself, plus your kids, and all of the household, food, school/daycare, transportation, clothing, emergencies and other costs that come with the territory.
If you feel like you’re struggling month after month, you have GOT to change your situation. If you lose your job, your car breaks down, take a trip to the ER, need a root canal for that toothache, and if you want to eventually retire someday, it’s time to buckle down on the financial front.
Note: I am not a financial advisor, just sharing my story.
5 Tips to Budget and Watch What You Spend
Here are a few things that I did to get my budget on track, save money each month and live a stress-free financial life. Read on to learn how to save money as a single mom.
1. You need another source of income
THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT FINANCIAL TIP ANYONE COULD EVER GIVE. If the money isn’t coming in, there’s no way you can budget to save it! You have to diversify your income, which means, you need to receive money from multiple sources, not just your day job. There are things that can happen at work that are beyond your control: Pay cuts, company lay offs, bankruptcy, crappy coworkers, a boss that hates you, and guess what? You’re out of a job.
If you want to know how to save money as a single mom, you first have to MAKE the money. You’ve gotta get that side hustle going. But wait… before you say, “I don’t have time to get another job“, YES YOU DO. There are plenty of things that you can do on the side to ensure your financial comfort. Work at a retail store at your local mall a couple nights per week. Offer your services (catering, childcare, writing, cleaning, or other expertise). Work evenings at home on the computer as a freelance writer or virtual assistant. Wait tables. Sell something. Drive for Uber. It can be done. My second source of income is this blog.
2. You need to downsize or move to a different neighborhood
This is the next biggest thing that you need to consider if you want to seriously change your life. Who doesn’t want to live in the best neighborhood in a 2-story, 4 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom house with a granite counter top kitchen, a spacious backyard with a swimming pool, and white picket fence? I am sure the majority of us would love to, but it’s just not very feasible with only one income. You must live within your means, and with your house is your biggest monthly expense, it should be kept as low as possible. You may have to move to another neighborhood that is a little older, or you might stay close and rent a 2 bedroom condo. The cost of living is my biggest expense, and I am saving hundreds of dollars per month by living is a small place. This is a huge step to financial freedom.
Your rent or mortgage should be only 1/3 of your total monthly income. If you make $3,000 per month net (after taxes), you should not live in a place that costs you $2,000 a month. NO. Once you’ve paid all of your bills, you’ll have no money left to actually LIVE. Your rent/mortgage should be around $1,000, and speaking of mortgage, it’s better to rent. There, I said it.
3. You need to build an emergency savings buffer
DUH. This is super important. I know a few people, who I am rather close to, who do not have a sufficient amount of money saved to hold them over in an emergency. I was once in the same boat. When trying to figure out how to save money as a single mom, this step is very important. Should an unexpected emergency arise, such as a loss of job (see #1 above to help soften the blow), a medical emergency, or any other major issue, you’ll need some sort of buffer to be able to handle it! Start by taking baby steps, you can manually deposit a small amount each month, or you can automate the process to where you won’t have any problems saving.
Most experts suggest saving 6 months worth of your expenses in a liquid savings account, so you can access it at any time. If your monthly cost of living is $2,500, all bills included, you should stash $15,000 to cover you in times of need. You never know when you could lose your job, have a medical scare, need to fix your car, or come across any other unexpected bills. Remember: having kids means more possibilities for emergency, so set aside an additional amount as a buffer.
4. Keep a budget, cut out all of the extras
Another big tip on how to save money as a single mom is to create a realistic budget. Only you know how much you make, and only you can apply that number to work with your spending habits and enforce it. Do whatever you have to do to stay on track, you can even balance your checkbook the old school way, just make sure you keep a budget and stick to it. I have an Excel spreadsheet that I use to keep track of my spending and saving each month, and I also use the Mint app on my phone to keep track of my spending while I am out and about.
When you keep your budget tight, you can see where you’re spending money, and where you shouldn’t. Do you go out to eat twice per week? Make it once. Do you have HBO, Starz, Showtime, Cinemax and other pay channels along with your cable? Remove them. Do you regularly purchase alcohol, cigarettes, Air Jordan’s, clothing and accessories, nights out at the movies, clubs, bars, and spend on the newest technology? Cut it out. Do you get your hair and nails done weekly? STOP. Do you realize how much money you could be saving? Create a budget and you’ll see…
5. Get someone you trust involved, and ask for help
If you don’t trust yourself with your savings, you need to have someone you do trust help you manage your cash. You can start by giving them $20 per week to hold for you, if you followed the steps above, you should have no problem with this. Keep track of the money you give them, and once the year is up, you’ll have saved over $1,000! If you can’t do this, start with $20 per month, and increase when you can. If you have the discipline, put it in a jar at home.
When I say “ask for help”, I don’t mean ask them for money. DO NOT ask people for money. It is the worst. I’m referring to the little things that will end up saving you money. On occasion, ask a family member if they’ll watch your kids, instead of paying a babysitter. Accept hand me downs. Cancel that hair appointment and ask a friend to dye your hair for you. Borrow stuff (do you really need that propane grill?). You could even get a roommate.
Note: I am not a financial adviser, just sharing my story.
What is your personal financial goal? Maybe you need to pay off that $5,673 credit card balance that you’ve been holding for years? Or do you want to take your family on vacation? Maybe you are looking to invest in the stock market? Or you might be looking to start saving money in a college fund for your kids, or in a ROTH IRA for your retirement? Or, perhaps, maybe you just want to sit, and relax each month without worrying about the light bill? For me, it’s all of the above.
Wishing you lots of luck in your budgeting journey
Learning how to save money as a single mom is a choice, you can use the information to help your financial situation, or keep those same old spending habits that stress you out! There is no reason that we should have to struggle as single parents. None.
Again, I am not a financial adviser, I am just sharing the tips that worked for me. I am not wealthy by any means, but I have the same exact financial obligations that you do and I can do what I want to do, when I want to do it. Live within your means, and let the excess stuff go.
Note: I am not a financial advisor, just sharing my story.