The opportunity to set a positive example for your kids while navigating the ups and downs of life may feel overwhelming at times, especially when it comes to balancing a bank account. With so much to think about, and no second parent to help, it can be easy to let your finances get out of control.
If you’re a single parent struggling with your budget, you’re not alone. Many single parents go through similar issues. To help get your finances in order and your life back on track, here are seven tips to help you budget.
7 Tips to Help You Budget as a Single Parent
1. Get Thrifty
Thrifting has become a big business these days, which is a huge benefit for parents looking to refresh their children’s wardrobe without breaking the bank. If your kids are outgrowing their clothes, or simply would like some new options for the season, head to your local thrift store.
Whether you prefer to go in person or peruse online options, it has never been easier to purchase affordable, high-quality clothing. You never know where you might find your new favorite swaddle or wrap, at a cost that makes sense for a family on a single income.
2. Repurpose Your Décor
In a similar vein, if your home is in need of an update, consider repurposing your décor or rearranging your furniture. This prevents you from dropping a ton of money on home renovations and allows you to see your home in a different light.
Need a fresh take on your living room? Swap out throw pillows or wall hangings from another room in the house. Feeling mediocre about your bedroom? Bring in photos from your living room.
Even the simple act of rearranging your existing furniture can breathe new life into your space and make you feel like you’ve stepped into a new and improved home.
Take the love seat that sits in your basement and put it in your living room or playroom. Move the chair that takes up too much space in your family room to a tucked away corner of the house—this will give you a private reading nook.
3. Meal Prep with Grocery Store Sales
One of the most efficient ways to save money is to meal prep according to grocery store sales. When you shop, pay attention to items that are on sale and stock up on those groceries for the next week.
As a side note, you could also enroll in any available discount programs the store provides—they’re usually free and let you swipe a card or input a phone number to get your savings.
There are always a wide range of items available for a discount, so you shouldn’t have any problem getting all of your food groups covered.
By allowing yourself to be flexible with what you purchase and make, you’ll save yourself money in the long-term. And who knows? You may even introduce your family to a few new food options in the process. A win-win.
4. Use Utilities Mindfully
One of the biggest financial drains on many single parents is utility usage. Many of us use lights and water without considering whether we really need to. Fortunately, this is easy to address. According to House Method, you can save money by taking shorter showers, turning off lights and appliances when they aren’t in use, and running full loads of laundry and dishes.
These are quick and easy adjustments to make that, over the course of the year, will help you spend less. As an added bonus, these actions are great for the planet and are the perfect opportunity to teach your kids about conserving resources.
5. Know Your Necessities
It’s difficult to budget before you know what your budget actually is. If you have not done so already, set aside the time to sit down and get acquainted with your necessities: the monthly expenses that are a non-negotiable for you and your family.
If you have a mortgage or rent payment, that will likely be at the top of your list. Other bills such as gas or transportation, groceries, and utilities should also be noted, in addition to anything specific to you and your kids.
Once you understand the cost of your family’s needs, you can create a plan for paying bills on time and perhaps find new ways to cut down on expenses that may not be as vital, after all.
6. Consider a Childcare Swap
As a single parent, it’s likely that childcare is a big part of your monthly budget. This can be one of the most expensive bills for any family. If you know other parents who are also seeking to cut down on child care costs, consider collaborating on a childcare swap. Instead of paying for babysitting, participating parents can swap out child care responsibilities.
This gives your kids instant playmates and creates a community of parents committed to sharing what otherwise can become a huge expense. If that doesn’t feel like a viable option, consider asking a trusted family member if they might watch your children for a discounted rate.
7. Prioritize Quality Time
If you’re a single parent on a budget, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the idea that you need to provide countless material items to keep your kids happy. However, something you can’t put a price on is quality time.
Spending an afternoon or weekend with your children, playing, exploring, or relaxing with them can be just, if not more, beneficial in the long-term than anything that money can buy.
Be sure to schedule this quality time into your month, so you can establish a strong connection through all of your kids’ exciting life stages.
For many single parents, money can feel like a taboo topic. However, there’s no reason for it to be that way. In fact, budgeting as a single parent is one of the most responsible and savvy decisions you can make.
This will not only create a more stable environment for your kids, but it can give you greater peace of mind as a parent. With a little bit of planning, creativity, and flexibility, you can navigate single parenthood with your bank account in-tact. Consider incorporating a few of these tips into your routine and see what works best for you.