Money-saving tips for Solo Moms
Your grocery list is getting longer by the minute, your daughter needs money for a class trip,
and your son’s sneakers have seen better days. What’s a Solo Mom to do? With so many demands on your wallet, it can be stressful to keep all the balls in the air. Here are a few tips to help you stretch your paycheck a little further.
- Take advantage of rewards programs. Many retailers, including grocery stores and drugstores, offer rewards programs and frequent-shopper discounts that help their customers save money. With your membership, you save on featured items and may receive email savings certificates for as much as 20% off of your purchase. Registration is free.
- Clip coupons. Think you’ll save only pennies by clipping coupons? Many retailers double the face value, and you’ll save even more if the items are also on sale. Coupon circulars are available in most Sunday newspapers, and additional deals often are available online.
- Buy items you use frequently in large quantities. If you have storage space, you usually can save money—and time by making fewer trips to the grocery store—by buying nonperishable items such as cereal, pasta, rice, frozen vegetables, paper products, detergent, and toiletries in bulk.
Dining out: Make it special
Although all Solo Moms need an occasional quick-fix solution, such as fast food at mealtime, try to make dining out a treat for special occasions, such as a birthday or a good report card.
If you are a mom who works outside the home, try to make time to eat breakfast at home and to prepare a lunch to take with you. Have a craving for designer coffee? Make your own and pack a Thermos or travel mug. If you take these steps just a few days a week, you could save more than $200 per month.
Solo Moms unite!
Have gently used clothes your children have outgrown? What about furniture and other items around the house in good condition you no longer use or need? Join other Solo Moms in your community or social circle to form an exchange. Offer items you own, and you may find items you need—at no cost. Make it a party by hosting a potluck. Each guest brings a dish to share, including enough for everyone to have leftovers for lunch or dinner later in the week. Extend the concept even further, and save money by setting up a system in which you take turns providing carpools and babysitting services.
Create a realistic budget—And stick to it
Some financial experts recommend using a 50/20/30 guideline: no more than 50% of your take-home pay should go to essential expenses, such as housing, transportation, groceries, and utilities; at least 20% should be allocated to your financial priorities, such as building an emergency fund, saving for a home, or saving for your child’s education; and 30% should go toward your lifestyle choices, including hobbies, entertainment, and other miscellaneous expenses. Don’t worry if you aren’t at 50/20/30 yet. Take small steps to move in the right direction.
A word about saving for college
When it comes to saving for college, “save early and often” is sound advice. According to U.S. News & World Report, if you save $200 per month in a 529 plan—investment accounts run by most states that offer tax benefits for education savings—for 10 years at 3.5% interest, you’ll accumulate almost $29,000. Can’t spare $200 per month right now? Save what you can, but save something each month.
With discipline—and perhaps a little creativity—you can make the precious dollars you work for work even harder for you.
Photo Credit Shutterstock.com
Brenda Melvin is a Virginia-based freelance writer who specializes in workplace trends and career-management issues. Her work has appeared in various publications, including the Chicago Tribune, Northern Virginia magazine, and Heart & Soul magazine.
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