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Parenting is never easy and it gets even tougher when you’re a single Mom. There are so many responsibilities, and it’s your duty to shoulder them all whether you’re up for it or not.
Sure, your buddies or family members may help out once in a while, but at the end of the day, your young one(s) is looking up to you. You’re all they’ve got.
Handling all the responsibilities on a low income is quite a task. You may often wonder which of them you can leave out to make parenting easier.
The good news is, you’re not walking on that path alone. Others have been where you are, and they’ve pulled it off. Definitely, it’s not through magic? They had the right mindset and the determination that’s required to raise kids.
It’s incredible how easier it is to get things done if you handle parenting with the right attitude. Don’t pay too much attention to the costs of living. Otherwise, you’ll get discouraged.
If you’re a new mom, feeling frustrated and trapped is normal at some point or another. As days go by and as you gain the experience, it’ll get better.
Here are some tips on how to make ends meet if you’re a single mom that’ll make parenting not only more bearable but enjoyable for you as well.
1. Come Up With a Budget
Keeping track of your expenses is difficult if you don’t put them down on paper or save them in your phone.
With all the tasks that you need to take care of, it’s easy to forget about the expenses and fall into the trap of overspending.
As a single mom, every dollar counts. That’s why you should create a budget to help you plan for and manage your cash.
It doesn’t have to be fancy. You could write down all the expenses and how much each of them cost on a piece of paper.
Alternatively, to simplify the process, there are loads of budgeting apps that do all the work for you while you focus on other pressing matters.
There’s a common misconception that a budget restricts your spending. In actual fact, it helps you spend your money better.
To get started, gather all the financial statements you have. They include utility bills and bank statements.
Then, record your source of income. If it comes in a paycheck, use the net income to plan for expenses. You should also include whether you work in an office or are self-employed.
Next, list all the expenses you plan to meet over your chosen duration. It’s best to select a month.
Afterward, classify the expenses as either variable or fixed. Variable expenses change and will help you to be flexible as you prepare the budget.
Finally, get a total of your monthly expenses and income and make adjustments where necessary. Don’t forget to review your budget to gauge your progress.
2. Shop Wisely
When shopping for clothes for you and your little one(s), ditch malls that are unnecessarily costly and opt for thrift stores instead.
There, you can find more for less. Additionally, it’s easier to shop at thrift stores since they’re rarely crowded.
You have to pay more attention to when shopping for food. Some kinds of foods, like fruit and vegetables, perish very fast.
Buying them in bulk is a good idea if you have a fridge to store them in. Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for disaster.
Here are a couple of fruits and veggies shopping tips to help you shop like a pro:
You Don’t Have to Pay the Full Price
Look for specials, sales, and coupons in your local grocery store that slashes the cost of food. You can also go online or check your local newspaper for some sweet deals.
If you prefer buying your fruits and vegetables in bulk, go for the frozen or canned variety. They last much longer.
Buy Those in Season
Take advantage of the season. Which vegetables and fruits are in season? Buy them. They are less costly, are easier to find and most importantly, have more flavor.
Buy Them in Their Simplest Form
Processed, pre-cut and ready-to-eat foods may be convenient, but they are quite expensive. Keep it simple. Buy your groceries in their simplest form, then do all the cutting and preparation at your home at no cost.
Prepare a Grocery List
Before popping into the store, make a list of all the groceries you need. This helps you remain focused and complete your shopping task in the shortest time possible.
3. Manage the Utility Costs
Utilities can increase the amount of money you spend on electric bills if not cared for properly. You need to try as hard as you can to keep utility costs at their lowest.
The best place to start is in your preferred choice of housing. If you’ve moved out of your parents’ or friend’s place, go for an apartment to keep things simple as well as spend less on rent.
One of the benefits of living in an apartment is a large number of your utilities will be covered in the rent. Thus, you don’t have to worry about paying for them. It always helps to find out which utilities you won’t have to pay for.
In most apartments, electricity isn’t included in the rent. If you live in such an apartment, you can manage the costs by trying your best to be energy efficient.
Try these super easy ways to keep your electricity bill at its lowest:
- Use LED light bulbs.
- Switch off lights when they’re not in use.
- Use cold water to wash your clothes.
- Install a programmable thermostat.
- Check your air filters regularly and change them if necessary.
- Clean your windows frequently to allow heat from the sun to warm your home.
- Dedicate less or no time to the tube.
- Unplug appliances when they’re not in use. Even when they’re off, they consume energy if still plugged in.
- Replace your fridge or any other appliance if it’s old.
- Open windows during summer to minimize the usage of the air conditioner.
4. Have a Support System
You’ll need all the help you can to make ends meet, especially if you’re a young mother. Most people shy away from sharing their problems and struggles because they don’t want to be vulnerable.
Being social and having the right people around you is a great way to manage all the stress that comes with single parenting.
You don’t need to have lots of friends for your support system to be effective. You can lean on your family members and the few friends you have any time you want someone to talk to.
There’s no shame in having a team of people you trust by your side. Research shows that people with a reliable support system are happier, more optimistic, and ready to face life.
Having a support system has tonnes of perks. Some of them are:
A support system motivates you to be your best. With the assurance that there are people who care for you, you’re motivated to be your best at home and work.
A Source of Additional Information
Members of your support system can offer advice on various areas. Examples are how to balance parenting and work or how to achieve your dreams even after being a parent. They can also teach you stuff you may not have known about parenting and guide you.
At one point or another, you’ll run out of cash and the last thing you’ll want is to borrow a loan. Well, what are friends for? You can always count on your support system to bail you out financially if need be.
5. Have a Savings Account
There’s no telling what life can throw at you. Okay, you may have a source of income now, but is it a guarantee that you’ll always have it?
It helps to have a savings account, where you can put in money no matter how small it may be. When making your budget, remember to dedicate a portion of your earnings to your account. The amount of money you make should help you determine how much you’ll set aside.
It’s not easy but it’s worth the trouble. If you don’t wish to open your savings account online, there’s always the home option, but it’s quite unreliable.
You might get tempted to take out cash from your account even when what you need it for may not be an emergency.
A great way to avoid this is putting your money in envelopes, sealing them and asking your friends to keep the envelopes for you.
When you think of the many ways a savings account can come in handy, you’ll realize that you need to start one ASAP. Here are some of the benefits of having a savings account:
- You always have an available source of money, therefore, you’ll be able to access it without any problems or penalties.
- You get peace of mind. Whenever you need a quick buck, you can always rely on your savings account to come to the rescue.
- Should you lose your job, you’ll have a ready source of cash to lean on. Ensure that you minimize the number of times you reach into your account so you can have enough for emergencies.
6. Get a Side Hustle
Perhaps you’ve stopped overspending and have come up with a budget but still, what you make isn’t enough to cater for both your child’s and your needs.
Have you considered getting a side gig? If you’re employed, try asking your boss if you can work extra hours. Or, if you’re self-employed and are working from home, add an hour or more to your work schedule before calling it a day.
When choosing a side job, there are several things you should put into consideration.
What Are Your Hobbies, Skills, Or Talents?
If you’re good at painting, for example, you can make some paintings and sell them during the weekends or every day after work.
How Old Is Your Kid?
If they’re less than two years, you need some help with them as you work on your side hustle. Save the cash you’d spend on childcare and ask your family or buddies to help you out with them.
How Often Do You Work In A Week?
And what time do you come home from work? If you work for a day or two during the week, use the days that you’re off work to grow your side job.
If you work on every day of the week, how about getting some work done in the evening once your child falls asleep?
It’s advisable to work from home if you can pull off the arrangement. This way, you can keep an eye on your kid as you make some extra grind.
Some perfect side hustles for a single mom are:
- Online writing
- Offering cleaning services to your neighbors
7. Cut Your Monthly Expenses
What are those unnecessary expenditures that you spend good money on but don’t use or need? Do you need that gym membership that you pay for every month? Or those clothes and shoes that you buy every time you’ve got some extra cash?
If you’ve created a budget, it’s easier to spot those habits that cost you. You may be used to these habits that they become part of you.
To clear things up, here are ways you can cut on costs that’ll guarantee you more money to save or use somewhere else:
Walk or Cycle to Work
If you don’t live too far off from your place of employment, why waste money on fare? Consider investing in a bicycle and cycling to work every morning.
If you’re living on a tight budget, walking is another alternative. Not only will you save on money, but you’ll keep fit as well.
Pack Some Homemade Lunch to Work
To make this possible and easier, buy food in bulk, cook it and store it in your fridge. All you’ll have to do is warm it in the morning, have some for breakfast and pack the rest for lunch at work.
Keep Away from Takeaway Lattes and Coffees
If you really must have your morning coffee or smooth latte, make some from home. Additionally, buy a flask and store some there for later so you won’t have to make a quick stop at Starbucks on your way to work.
Share Car Journeys
Make the most out of your car. If your neighbor doesn’t have a car, offer to drive them to work on condition that you split fuel costs between the two of you.
8. Give Child Care a Thought
Most childcare services are expensive. However, that shouldn’t prevent you from giving childcare a try.
Not all child care centers offer costly services. An increase in the number of parents who need their services has led to competition among centers. This has further led to a decrease in the cost of child care services.
Whether you prefer in-home care, family day care, a formal child-care center, be sure to do some research about them in advance and compare prices.
If you have one in mind already, drop in and have a look around before letting them take care of your child.
Here are some techniques you can use when sizing up a potential child care center:
Find Out their Policies
Ask about their parenting philosophies on issues like:
- how often the kids watch TV if there’s any
- how they discipline children- is it through scolding, time-outs, or physical punishment?
- the foods, drinks, and snacks they give to the kids
- what time the kids take a nap
- what their sick-child policy is
Communicate with the Caregiver Regularly
If your kid can’t talk yet, the caregiver is the only one who’ll offer you information about your child’s day at the center.
It’s therefore, essential to strike a good relationship with them. You should speak to them in person, but if it’s not possible, a phone call will do.
Focus on How the Staff Interacts with the Kids
A caregiver should play with the kids during playtime. They should be responsive and warm. Ideally, they should also have some one-on-one time with every child.
9. Go Frugal on Entertainment
After a hard day at work and caring for your kid, there’s no better way to cool off than enjoying some good old entertainment.
Entertain yourself without straining your budget. There are lots of ways to do this.
Cut On Cable
If you’re a TV person. There are plenty of other cheaper ways to have fun, like watching YouTube and watching movies online. You’ll only need a stable internet connection.
Visit A Library
If books and magazines are your deal, no problem. Visit your local library and borrow some books to read. You could as well read them at the library.
Go Out Into The Woods
Spend some time chilling with Mother Nature. Go for a hike, a picnic, mountain climbing or just for a walk in the park. You could also find a quiet place and meditate.
Consider A Game Night
Have a game night at your place. Ask your friends to bring some snacks and their favorite games to triple on the fun and avoid the hassle of whipping something up for them. To make it more exciting and orderly, have a game plan.
Be A Volunteer
If you’re a social type of person, you could be a Big Sister to someone or volunteer at a local community center.
Get In Touch With History
Identify some museums around your area and visit them. Know when they open and close to avoid inconvenience.
Do some window shopping. Visit a mall or anywhere else where they sell cool stuff and look around. If you’re a shopaholic, you may want to pass on this one.
10. Buy Electronics the Smart Way
If you’ve just moved out of your old folks’ place and you’re looking to buy electronics to complete your new crib, there’s so much involved in the process.
Though electronics are lifesavers, they’re ridiculously expensive. Before going to the store, go online and do some research on various brands as well as their prices.
For an additional advantage, check out the reviews of the electronics.
Even if you have money to spend, don’t go for expensive electronics. Choose the cheaper ones instead. Sounds hard? Here are some tips on how you can buy affordable but quality electronics:
Buy Refurbished Electronics
Buying refurbished electronics may be the last thing you want to do, but before you rule this out, consider the perks. Many retailers and manufacturers offer them to customers at a deep discount.
Plus, they’re checked thoroughly, repaired and tested by manufacturers before the sale. So you’re assured of functional electronics. You only need to buy from a certified refurbishing dealer.
Shop Around First
Don’t just pick a store and shop from it. Weigh your options. Visit various stores in your neighborhood and compare the prices of the electronics. Then, settle for the least expensive one after confirming it’s the one you want.
Wait for Deals on Electronics Before Purchase
Most people get so excited about electronics that they pay the full retail price for them. Do things differently. No matter how attractive the electronic is, pull yourself together and wait until it goes on sale.
Go for Old Electronics
New electronics usually cost more than old ones. If you want a laptop, for example, instead of going for the latest version, settle for one that was released some time ago to save on cash.
You Can Do It
Adjusting to the life of being the only provider and caretaker of your child takes work and a lot of patience. Making your finances work for you takes effort too and if you’re determined, nothing is impossible.
With the tips above, you have all you need to take care of your precious one and when he or she grows up into a responsible member of the society, you’ll realize that your sacrifices were all worth it.