7 Budgeting Tips to Help Single Parents Save Money
As a single parent, you need a lot of planning to secure your future and that of your kids. Since everything rests on your shoulders, saving is not just important, it is critical.
Saving can be a tall order if you are running all bills by yourself. But with a few budgeting tips, you’re on your way to realizing your dreams.
- Create a list of expenses
As a single parent, it’s vital that you keep track of where your money is going to. Although this can be tough, it’s a worthy goal, because it will help you save up for your future. The most basic approach is to open up a spreadsheet on your computer and list all your fixed expenses in a single column. This may include car payment, mortgage/rent, utilities, insurance, and taxes. Be sure to add groceries and other supplies because you will often always need them.
Then do the total to see how much of your income goes to the fixed budget. Understanding where your money goes every month will help you become intentional about where to spend or cut back.
- Come up with a budget
With your list of expenses on hand, you now have a clear picture of how much money comes in and goes out. You also know how much is left for saving. Now, develop a long-term budget – which should project out several months, even up to a year.
Don’t forget to include all potential expenses that may arise along the way, like birthday presents, holidays and other non-recurring costs. A budget will point out months when cash flow issues may occur, and provide you enough time to plan a strategy.
- Save for the rainy day
It is important always to plan. Some expenses crop up when you least expect them to and might incapacitate you. A medical bill, job loss, or car repair, for instance, may leave a deep dent on your wallet.
As a responsible parent, you do not want this to happen, and the best way to ensure you have a backup for such situations is to set up a rainy day fund. Start with as little as $30 per pay period or more. The important thing is that you are consistent with the savings.
- Plan for medical expenses
With kids around, you must have health insurance in place to cover your medical costs. If your employer does not provide for that, then you should purchase your policy. If you are self-sponsored, then premium should be on the list of your budget. Dedicate a portion of your budget toward prescriptions, co-pays, etc. After all, if you miss visiting the doctor that month, you will have extra money to do other things.
- Pay bills on time
With so much going on, it is easy for you to delay bills. Unfortunately, you incur late fees each time you are late on bills, and this adds up quickly. There is a lot you can do to ensure this does not happen. For instance, you may automate your monthly rent or mortgage payments with your bank. You also may make it a habit of paying your bills as soon as they are in.
- Shop smartly
Since you are keen on saving, you should get into the habit of shopping for the best prices before you buy anything. You’ll be surprised by how much you save buying discounted goods. Online stores provide the best deals because they do not have many overhead costs. However, take time to research on the best sites up front.
- Understand all the fees
Look at your cell phone, credit card, and bank statements. If there is any fee that surprises you, call your provider and ask for more details. Understanding your charges and reasons behind them will help you avoid certain expenses, and in the process, save money.
Examples of fees may include interest fees, branch fees, ATM fees annual credit card fees and debit card fees. You can shop around to find an affordable provider if you feel like your current one is charging more.
As a single parent, it’s highly likely that your income streams are limited. It is therefore essential to cut back on your expenses to ensure you save enough for the hard times. All these might seem overwhelming. But if you take baby steps, you will get there. Try setting aside a few dollars each time you earn. Over time, your reserve will grow.