If you’re a mom, you don’t need anybody telling you that children are expensive and that you should “set a budget” to get a better handle on your finances. We’re all well aware of the often unpredictable expenses associated with motherhood, and when you’re toughing it out alone with the kids, it’s not always easy to be firm and reject a child’s high-pitched pleas. The “mommy can I get this” becomes exponentially more difficult to resist in public places as the number of children increases, so unless you’d prefer to be overwrought by a gang of crying kids in the grocery store, you must comply. There may be no avoiding the occasional tantrum-preventing purchase, but everything else doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. Here are some of the best ways to stretch your budget as a single mom:
1. Use a Free Phone Service
If you’re paying for one or more cell phone plans per month, you can eliminate these bills by choosing from one of the many government free phones available in your area. This can be especially helpful if you have older kids who have their own cell phones, with such bills quickly adding up to a few hundred dollars each month. As long as you can state that you’re within a certain income bracket, you’re almost automatically approved, and the best part is, you get both the phone and the service at no charge.
2. Purchase Used Clothing
It’s no secret that moms love shopping for clothing. You can save an absurd amount of money and drastically expand your child’s wardrobe by opting for used alternatives. Let’s face it, there isn’t much that a washing machine and some detergent won’t wash out, and most of us can tell when an article of clothing is too damaged or filthy to be an acceptable item for a kid to wear. Search for bargains on classified sites, at yard sales, in thrift stores, or even online using sites like eBay. With a bit of discretion you’ll be able to discard the shrunken, stained, faded and otherwise undesirable items, and those that are deemed worthy of purchase will typically be name brands bought at prices as low as (or even lower than) 5% of the original purchase price. Buying infant clothes in various sizes in bulk can also be quite effective.
3. Practice Meal Planning
Next to clothing and communication, nutritional sustenance is undoubtedly the third essential expense that will hog up most of a single mom’s budget. Start planning the exact contents of each meal on a set schedule, and then create a comprehensive grocery list that will provide the ingredients needed for all of those meals. The result will be an optimally stocked refrigerator and pantry, more financial stability and predictability (which equates to less stress), and the assurance that you’ll always have what you need to make the most nutritious meals without wasting a huge portion of the budget on junk or impulse purchases.
4. Become a Freebie and Coupon Master, It’s Only Natural
As the old saying goes “one mom’s trash is another mom’s treasure.” Well, the original saying used the word “man’s” instead of “mom’s” but have you ever met a man who can coupon or find freebies better than a mom – not happening. Moms are the masters of bargaining and finding free/cheap stuff, and in a way it’s an instinctual talent because it stems from our need to be resourceful in providing basic provisions for our children with whatever we can find. Coupons are boss.
Keep these tips in mind, and hopefully your budget will stretch much further.