Raising a child is no easy feat. It takes a tremendous amount of energy and planning, and those who do it deserve extra recognition for all they accomplish on their own.
If stay-at-home moms are relying on one income, it can be difficult to properly manage personal finances. Raising children is expensive work; for instance, a baby can cost up to $12,000 during the first year of life. Overall, with one income and the expense of raising children, saving money can be a tough challenge.
Despite these challenges, it’s still possible to save money and improve your financial situation. Here’s how.
Plan Extensively for Groceries
One area to focus on for savings is your grocery list. Start by taking a look at your finances and coming up with a budget for your groceries. It’s also important to take the extra step to plan out your meals for the week. (As you plan, see what deals and coupons are available. Try to choose meals around those.)
Then when you head to the grocery store, you know exactly what to get. The key to saving is to not buy anything that’s not on your list. And you may even want to use a calculator as you shop to ensure you’re not going over your budget. Being very intentional while shopping and paying close attention to what you’re getting will prevent you from spending more than you meant to.
You can also order your groceries online so you’re not tempted to throw in any extra cookies or snacks as you browse through the aisles.
Cut Out General Entertainment and Find Alternatives
When you’re trying to save money, one of the first things to go is expensive entertainment. For example, avoid the movies and expensive concert tickets. Instead, look for free events in your area; you can usually find options available through local colleges and universities. Parks and recreation offices may also offer free events throughout the year. Not to mention, the local park is free public space. Get outside!
Another form of entertainment to cut out is magazines. With so much content available online, you really don’t need to be paying extra for it to be delivered to your home. And instead of buying new books, borrow books from the library. Most public libraries even offer ways to download audio books for free on your phone.
Drop Unnecessary Utilities
We really don’t need cable to survive and with so many streaming options available, it’s a smart budget move to cut the cable cord.
Although other utilities like heat, AC, and electricity can’t be dropped, there are ways to make these bills a little more affordable.
- During the warmer months, the US Department of Energy recommends keeping your thermostat at 78 degrees Fahrenheit when you’re not home. Also, setting the temperature as high as possible while still maintaining your comfort level will ensure you’re not wasting money on the AC.
- Make sure you unplug your devices when they’re not in use. Small appliances like the toaster oven, lights, and even your phone charger use a little bit of electricity when they’re plugged in. The more electricity you can save, the lower your bill will be.
- Also be more mindful about things like only running the dishwasher when it’s full. All these small ways to cut down on utility bills can begin to add up.
Pay Off Any Debt Sooner Rather Than Later
There are several ways to expedite debt repayment which will help you begin saving money faster.
Debt avalanche: This is one of the most effective ways to get out of debt. The strategy is to pay the debts with the highest interest rates first. You want to pay off the costliest debt while still making the minimum payments elsewhere. Once you pay off your prioritized debt, you can re-focus on the debt with the second highest interest rate. Repeat the procedure as many times as needed. There’s a similar strategy known as the debt snowball method, which may be worth looking into as well.
Debt consolidation: This strategy involves rolling all your debts into one. In short, you can take out a personal loan (at a lower interest rate); use it to pay off the individual loans or credit cards. The main point is to focus your efforts on paying back that single loan and save money on interest. With a low interest personal loan, you may expect rates as low as the single digits, but keep in mind that these rates are generally reserved for applicants with excellent credit and high income (they can go as high as 36 percent).
Balance transfer: Another way to pay off debt is to transfer multiple credit card debts to one credit card with a balance transfer card. You are left with one balance to pay off with a hopefully lower interest rate. The point here is also to save money by reducing your interest rate. Qualified applicants may be able to get a card with a zero percent interest rate.
As you can see, there are many ways to save money, even on a budget–whether this involves being more intentional about your habits and spending, cutting out unnecessary costs, or strategically paying off your debt faster. There’s plenty that a parent can do to minimize their expenses and save money in the long run. It takes hard work and due diligence!
About the Author
Andrew Rombach with LendEDU – a website that helps consumers learn more about their finances. Andrew learned quite a bit of finance from his mother growing up, especially about how to save at the grocery store and that cable isn’t necessary.