In the United States today, millions of people are single parents who struggle with putting money back for the future. This is largely an issue of having only one income, or too many expenses to keep up with as a result of having one or more children.
But living as a single parent and affording all that's necessary to keep you and your family healthy and comfortable is not impossible. Follow these 6 simple tips, and you'll see the savings pile up over time to help your family grow up big and strong.
1. Grow a Garden
This one's for all the single parents out there with a backyard or even a single patch of earth they're not using.
If you don't like vegetables, it's time to grow up a little and learn to love them -- unless you're allergic to them, of course.
Go out and buy some seeds or plants from your local hardware store or nursery. They're shockingly cheap, and the value you'll get out of not only the fully grown plants as they save you money on meals but also the rewarding aspects of planting and nurturing those growing plants is incalculable.
2. Instead of Traveling, Stay Home!
At first, this may sound like a groaner. Who wants to hang around the same place you always do when there's a whole wide world out there to explore?
Rest assured, we don't mean you should stay cooped up in your house. We're actually referring to a staycation, where you and your family remain in the city, town, or rural area you already live in. Go out and find new spots you've never been to. Try new restaurants, public parks, museums, landmarks, and other attractions you've been missing out on.
3. Sell, Sell, Sell
Take a look around your home. How much stuff around you could you actually live without?
Your first instinct might be to say, "I use all of this stuff!"
But really think about it. When was the last time you used everything you own?
As a general rule, if it's been more than a year since you or your kids wore certain clothes, played with old toys, used sports equipment or household items, sell them ASAP. Odds are, you won't be using them again anytime soon, and they really only hold a nostalgic value for you.
Turn that nostalgia into cash you can put away for when you really need it.
4. Keep an Emergency Fund at All Times
In the past on the Atlas Credit blog, we've delved into the incredible importance of a healthy emergency fund. And as a single parent with only one income, a sudden blow to your finances like healthcare costs or automobile repairs can put you into bankruptcy.
That's why you should do everything in your budgetary power to put away money for an emergency fund. At first, this may seem like saving money you'll never get to use for fun -- but what it's really doing is keeping you able to maintain that same consistent growth you've gone through without any major setbacks.
At the end of each day, single parenting can be exhausting and at times overwhelming. But when you make sure to keep a careful budget and never splurge when it's unnecessary, you can attain a level of stability you may have thought impossible.
5. Create a Budget and Stick to It
Too many people go month to month without a clear idea of how much money they have. It's even more critical for you as a single parent to budget and track your spending so that you and your kids stay within your monthly spending limits. Calculate all of your income, including your salary and any child support. Then look at your monthly expenses, such as housing, utilities, car payments and credit card bills.
If your spending outpaces your income, you need to make adjustments.
You can cut small expenses, such as video-on-demand subscriptions. You can also try to increase income. By bringing these numbers closer together as a single parent, you can help ensure you have enough to pay your bills and stay on budget.
6. Eliminate Big Splurges That Throw off Your Budget
Everyone splurges now and then. It's no fun to spend all your money on bills or getting out of debt. Small splurges, such as an ice cream sundae or a movie date with a friend, can fit into budgeting for single moms and dads. But if you get in the habit of treating yourself too much, you can plunge into debt, and that will obliterate your current budget.
To curb your overspending, force yourself to wait before making any large purchases. If you're shopping online, put the item in your cart, but don't check out for at least two days. You get time to reflect on the purchase and whether you really need it before spending the money. You also can build splurges into your monthly budget for a fixed dollar amount. Then you can spend those funds without feeling guilty.
There are so many ways single parents can save money. Use these money management tips for single parents to improve your financial literacy and start saving. If you need money immediately, you can always apply for a personal loan from Atlas Credit. Keep reading the Atlas Credit blog for more financial advice, tips, and tricks every week!