Managing money is hard and it is even more difficult when there is only one household income. Then add in all the extra holiday spending and, before you know it, your checking account is easily heading the wrong way! Single parenting and running a home is hard enough without having to worry about money. Here are some basic single parent budget tips and ideas that I have used (and still use) to help keep more pennies… and dimes… and quarters… in my personal penny jar!
10 Single Parent Budget Tips
WRITE DOWN YOUR EXPENSES AND YOUR BUDGET – Do it old school and write it down so you can visibly see your list of what you owe and what you have. This will help you decide where the money is coming from and when/how you will be able to pay each bill.
PRIORITIZE AND SEPARATE YOUR “NEEDS” FROM YOUR “WANTS” – Decide what is essential for your life and what is not. You would be surprised at all the material things you can live without when money is tight. Start putting aside a little bit of savings to eventually buy the things that are “wants” on the list.
CLIP COUPONS – Just like mom used to do! Coupons can still help you save a lot of money. It may not be “cool” to carry them around when you shop but guess what? It is really cool when you start having extra cash in your wallet because of a few little slips of paper. Also, make sure you are using smart phone apps and online coupons. I will admit that I swear by the Walmart Savings Catcher! I get back at least $20 a month from it.
GO GENERIC – Most major stores and grocery chains now have some really tasty offerings in their generic line up. I actually prefer some of the Publix and Private Selection (Kroger) generic foods better than the (more expensive) national brands.
GO BIG – Still want more single parent budget tips? Well go big! As in big box, discount stores. But only sign up when you get a great offer. I actually joined Costco AND Sam’s Club last year for $20 each thanks to “junk mail” special offers. It doesn’t always save money to shop at these stores but, when it does work… you can save big.
SHOP WITH A LIST – Shopping lists keep you focused and keep you from spending money on things that you don’t really need. Impulse buys can really kill a budget. Also, remember not to go to the grocery when you are hungry – a growling stomach buys more pizza!
EAT IN INSTEAD OF OUT – This is an obvious saver. Keep in mind that just one meal out for a family of four can often equal half a weekly grocery budget. If you do want to go out, buy gift cards from your fave local spots when they are having promotions. During the holidays, many major chains will give you as much as $20 in free gift cards when you buy a $50 gift card. Also try sharing a meal. My son doesn’t always eat all his food when we are out so I often order something that we both like, along with an appetizer, and we share. It is fun and it saves money!
CONSERVE ENERGY – Yep, you have heard it ever since your dad said to you… “shut the front door, I am not paying to heat the neighborhood!” But guess what, he was right. Keep your thermostat at a consistent temperature that is comfortable for everyone in the house and avoid changing your temp all the time. Set it and forget it! Also make sure that your filters are clean and turn off unused lights or appliances. And, if you are a little chilly, put on some fuzzy socks and get cozy! Saving energy saves money!
START A SAVINGS ACCOUNT – Even if it is just $20 a month, putting a little something away can add up over time and can often function as a back up fund in an emergency.
STAY HEALTHY – I can not stress enough the importance of you taking care of you! Get enough sleep, find time to exercise, and eat healthy. All of these things will eliminate a lot of medical bills now and down the road. Plus, fruits and veggies are usually a heck of a lot cheaper than junky, fatty foods.
BALANCE YOUR BUDGET- Income should always exceed expenses: That’s basic bookkeeping. If you don’t have at least 10 percent more income than expenses, consider trimming your budget to accommodate that emergency or savings amount.
Got any great single parent budget tips or any money savings tips you want to share? Please pass them along. We all can use a little help once in a while!
Read more about Rob Youngblood or get more of his tips at youngbloodonthecoast.com