How do you find the money to take care of your family, pay your bills, and still make time to relax? If you’re a single mother, the answer may seem elusive.
But with careful planning, you can create a budget that puts your family first and allows you to get everything done without feeling stretched too thin.
Here are 8 ways single mothers can stay on budget.
1) Get free or discounted items
If you’re a single mother and you want to stay on budget, there are many ways to get free or discounted items.
For example, if you’re looking for clothes, try consignment shops or even thrift stores. These stores have great deals and often times the clothes have only been worn a few times.
You can also find inexpensive furniture at places like IKEA where it will be cheaper than renting furniture.
2) Prioritize your spending
If you’re a single mother with limited funds, it’s easy to get into the habit of living paycheck-to-paycheck and spending impulsively.
However, you can change this by making a budget and prioritizing your spending so that you have money left over for savings. Here are some tips for sticking to your budget:
✓ Track all income and expenses – Most people struggle to stay on budget because they don’t know where their money is going.
You’ll be able to make better decisions if you track everything in one place, like a spreadsheet or a notebook.
Make sure you have enough emergency funds saved – When emergencies happen (like car trouble or unexpected medical bills) it can throw your budget off balance pretty quickly.
Make sure you have enough cash saved up for these types of emergencies before committing to long-term obligations like buying furniture or clothes for work.
3) Cut back on unnecessary expenses
If you are a single mother, one of the best ways to stay on budget is to cut back on unnecessary expenses.
Start by looking at your monthly bills and see where you can cut back or what expenses you can eliminate.
For example, if you have cable, ask yourself how much TV do you actually watch? If not much, then consider cutting it from your budget.
You could also go without internet for a little while to save money. Keep in mind that these decisions may come with some inconveniences but they will be worth it when they help you meet your financial goals.
Also, try to limit socializing as much as possible. Do things like invite people over instead of going out so that you don’t spend too much on food and drinks.
4) Automate your finances
If you are a single mother, one of the best things you can do for yourself and your family is to automate your finances.
Automating your finances allows you to save time and stay on budget, which can be difficult when juggling work, raising kids, paying bills and managing the household.
To get started automating your finances: -Open an online checking account with a bank or credit union that offers free checking.
The easiest way to set up automatic transfers is through your employer’s payroll department by filling out a form or completing direct deposit information in their HR system.
5) Find ways to make extra money
✓ Get a second job.
✓ Sell things you don’t need anymore.
✓ Start a blog about your hobbies or interests and have ads on it to earn money from companies that are interested in what you’re talking about.
✓ Ask your employer for a raise or promotion, even if they say no the first time, keep asking until they give in (try asking them at least once every six months).
✓ Find someone else who needs your skills as well as someone to take care of their kids so you can make money while doing something you love
6) Get help from family and friends
This might sound like an obvious one, but it can be very difficult to stay on budget when you’re a single mom.
If you are having trouble doing this, try getting help from your family and friends. These people will be more than willing to lend a hand.
For example, if you need someone to watch your kids while you work or go shopping then they would probably be glad to help out.
This is just one way that you can stay on budget without sacrificing time with your children.
It may seem difficult at first, but there are many other ways to do so as well. It all depends on the type of person you are and what you need most in life.
7) Take advantage of government assistance programs
One of the best ways to stay on budget as a single mother is to take advantage of government assistance programs.
These programs provide a variety of resources and benefits, such as public housing, food stamps and health insurance, that can help you get back on your feet.
Qualifying for these programs can be difficult in some cases, but it’s always worth looking into what’s out there.
Government assistance programs are designed to help people get their lives together and put them on the right track.
They don’t have to be permanent solutions, just something to tide you over until you’re back on your feet.
8) Use technology to your advantage
There are a number of apps and websites that can help you budget your money better.
Mint is a popular website, but there are also apps available for smart phones. Learn how to use these programs to stay on top of your finances, even when you’re not in front of the computer.
Make sure all the transactions match up, or if they don’t then find out why not. One way to do this is by comparing what’s happening in your bank account versus what’s going on with each app or site.
You’ll need an active phone line if you want to use apps or track mobile data usage, so check with your carrier before switching away from an unlimited plan.