Being a mom is a blessing; it’s also a massive amount of responsibility and very expensive! Single motherhood is an even more challenge due to the fact you are holding all the weight and worry of finances on your shoulders. As you look at your income and the mouths you must feed, you might get a little worried about how to manage it all. But where there is a will, there is a way.
You can still live the fulfilled life you deserve, provide groceries, clothes, and a great future for your children as a single mother. Here are some tricks and tips to help you stretch your wallet.
1) Use Free Tools to Create a Budget
Sit down and write what bills you must pay every month, such as, food, clothing, rent or mortgage, transportation, and medical. Calculate the total cost of your monthly expenses. Then deduct that from your monthly income. With what you have left, you can determine what you can put into savings, pay down debt and use for entertainment or self-care activities for you and your children. You can use an Excel spreadsheet, pie chart or Google Sheets to keep track of your budget, or there are plenty of free websites and apps you can use, such as concur.com, YNAB (You Need a Budget), and Mint.com. These sites break down your budget for you and show you how to best manage your money.
2) Pay Off Debt
With any more you have left after paying your necessary expenses, pay off your debt with the highest interest rates first. Do not take out any additional debt than necessary. Tell those clothing stores, “No,” when they ask you if you want a credit card to save a measly 10 percent!
3) Shop Vintage
Cut costs on name-brand and expensive fashion gear that your kids will grow out of in a few months, anyway, and shop at thrift stores that can have a lot of top notch and in-style clothing for the entire family. Goodwill, and Plato’s closet are just a few great places to start. Many times, the clothes are brand new or barely worn.
4) Extreme Couponing
Couponing is an easy way to save tons of money when grocery shopping. All it takes is organization. Collect coupons and arrange them into a nice binder. Pay close attention to the expiration dates and even search the website at your local grocery stores to see what awesome money saving deals they may have. To find the best bargains, you may have to buy in bulk, or make two or three separate transactions to make the savings count, but it is worth it..
5) Use the Internet
Use your entrepreneurial skills to make extra money on the internet. There are many websites online such as, OfferUp and LetGo, which enable you to sell your home goods, clothes, electronics, and even your creations. Got an original idea for a T-shirt slogan you know folks will love? Try selling them on TeeSpring. Got a knack for designing jewelry? Open up an online store on Etsy.
There are also some teleworking opportunities out there that will allow you to work from home on the weekends or at convenient times for a mom’s busy schedule. Be careful to avoid scams. No one should require you to pay up front to work for them, and if they’re promising you a six figure income working from home, it’s probably not true. But, do some research. You might find something that works for you. If you love writing essays, there are mommy magazines and websites that would love your personal stories. Find email addresses for the editors of the magazines and websites you like to read, read their editorial and submission guidelines and pitch them your stories. If you build up an audience of people who enjoy your work, you can release your stories on Patreon, where patrons pay a monthly fee to access your writing. With access to the internet, moms no longer need to go through gatekeepers to show your work. Find time to pursue your passions and make money, while you’re at it.
6) Use Your Community
You’ve heard the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Especially as a single mother, the “village” is more important than ever, and there are many people out there who are willing to help you financially and emotionally—if you ask! Trade babysitting with other single moms so you can both get a break every now and then. Offer your creative skills to friends in exchange for their help when you can’t afford to pay. Are you a great organizer? In need of cupcakes for a class event? Trade your organizing skills with a friend whose closet needs help but is a great baker.
Look for resources at your church or at your library. Some churches offer support groups or special programs on topics ranging from parenting to job searching and libraries often offer free courses on topics like computer skills.
Mothers are expected to be superheroes, leaping over problems in a single bound, but we know you’re human too. You don’t have to be strong every minute of every day and asking for help is not a sign of weakness. So don’t be embarrassed to ask for help when you and your children need it. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to learn who has your back!
Don’t lose hope; with a little organizing, budgeting and internet saavy, you can do anything!