Raising children is expensive and when you’re a single parent, it can seem downright impossible. Figuring out how to pay your bills while still ensuring that your child’s (or children’s) needs are met can be difficult. It is possible with a bit of planning.
You can pay your bills, take care of your kids and still have some money left over at the end of the month. Here are 7 ways in which you can save money.
Create a Budget
If you have no idea how much of your money is going where every month, your spending can quickly get out of hand. Sit down and create a monthly budget. Figure out how much you pay for fixed expenditures (such as rent and car insurance) and how much you want to stick within on other necessities, such as food and other flexible expenditures.
Once you figure these numbers out, it will be much easier to stick them, which can seriously cut down on impulse purchases. It can also be beneficial to balance your checkbook every month. This can help to make you accountable for all of your purchases and allow you to practice more conscious spending habits.
Great articles on how to create a household budget:
Buying new can eat up a large portion of your finances, whether it’s clothing, a car, or furniture. Rather than trying to figure out how you can afford new, shop used.
Consignment sales and thrift stores are a great way to stretch your clothing budget. Not only can you find gently used (and sometimes new) clothing at cheaper prices, you can also sell the clothing you no longer wear. These types of stores are also great for buying other household goods.
There are plenty of websites dedicated to selling used items, allowing you to save a significant amount of money.
Before you make a purchase, check to see if there is a cheaper price elsewhere. Thanks to the internet, comparison shopping has never been easier. You can even check for coupon codes for your chosen retailer.
What’s more, many stores will price match, whether it’s honoring their online prices in store or matching a competitor’s price. In some cases, you can still use coupons as well.
Join a Savings Club
Many grocery stores offer free savings clubs, which are designed to encourage your shopping loyalty. With a loyalty card, you can gain access to special sale prices and coupons. By planning your shopping trips around the sales of the week, you can definitely save money – as much as $40 or more per trip.
You don’t have to limit yourself to one store. If you shop at multiple stores that offer savings clubs, sign up for each store you frequent.
Pay Bills on Time
When you’re on a tight budget, it can be tempting to let some bills slide but, in doing so, you could be racking up late fees and other penalties. When you do get around to paying your overdue bills, you’re paying more than you would have initially. If possible, set up automatic payments for things such as your mortgage.
When paying your credit card bill, aim for paying about $50 to $100 over the minimum balance each month. And make sure you leave approximately 5 to 7 days for your payments to process. You should also familiarize yourself with any fees that may be associated with your bank, your credit card or your cell phone. Call each company and ask about any fees you are unsure of.
Shop around for banks that charge no fees, or at least less than what you are currently paying. You may even be able to get your credit card company to lower your interest rate.
Some parents may find themselves in a shortage of cash. Here are some helpful articles to help with that situation:
Plan Your Meals
While it can take some time, sitting down to plan your meals for the week can help you to then plan your shopping trips. This can help you to stick to a list and avoid buying what you don’t need.
Planning can also help you to make the most of what buy. For instance, if you roast a chicken, you can make chicken salad out of the leftovers, and have lunch ready for the next day or so. The leftovers also make great sack lunches for the kids when they go to school, rather than having them buy lunch.
Another trick to help you save money is to double your favorite recipes. This way, you have one ready for dinner on the night you make it and you can freeze the second one to eat the following week. This will allow you to take advantage of sales and can help you to save time on a night when you may not be able to cook.
Start a Savings Fund
One of the biggest keys to help you save money is to actually set money aside into a savings fund. Allot what you can each month, even if it’s only $20. Over time, this money can really add up. You are not limited to a savings account. You can set the money aside into a college savings fund for your child or into a retirement account. Use whichever method works best for you and your family.
Raising your kids on one income sounds like a frightening concept but, it is entirely possible. Taking the time to sit down and plan can go a long way in making sure that the bills are paid and everyone in your household is comfortable.
[This post was brought to you through a partnership with Sandy Matthews.]