Single Mom’s Guide to Saving Money and the Planet

Can Single Moms Successfully Save Money?

It all depends, right? I’m not the best at managing money, but I have learned to make my income work for me and my son by incorporating several money saving tactics, and the nice thing about them is that most of them are very earth friendly!

Peace of Mind
The key for me is peace of mind. We may not have much, but we make the most of what we have and live off of much less than other people. I took a massive pay cut when I left a high paying job in the DC metro area, gave birth to my son, and started a work from home journey.

Although I took a year in between then and now to work a “real job,” it was in small-town Edinborough, PA, and the pay was not enough to get by, actually, even in a low cost of living area like Erie, PA.

Seeing the Light
Now, we are back to a moderate living but most people would scoff at it, and I make it work but it takes effort, sacrifice, and diligence. The answer to peace of mind isn’t always a bigger salary, especially because you have to learn to do with what you’ve got before you can handle more, right?

Saving Money on Produce
Frozen fresh foods, especially fruits and vegetables, have been shown to be just as healthy as “fresh” fresh foods, so stock up. They cost less, last longer and will result in less waste.

Money Saving Tricks!
1. Don’t Use Credit
Don’t use credit for anything. It should only be used in absolute dire emergencies and only if you have a solid credit history so your rate is low. The reason? Because credit costs you money. So you have to pay money to get money, and in the end, they win.

2. Reserve Going Out for the Weekends
Part of the reason to do this is that it reduces wear and tear on your car, and saves your gas. The other part is that you will most likely do something fun on the weekends anyway, and so you will end up saving money because you won’t be going out all during the week. $5 here and there really adds up.

3. Learn to Turn Down Lunch and Dinner Invitations
Psychologically, this is a really difficult one, because as single parents, we need friends and company. But if you can’t afford it, you can’t afford it. The wealthy didn’t get there by constantly draining checking accounts!

Tip: If you just have to have a weekly lunch get together with a friend, commit to depositing an amount equal to what you spend at lunch into your savings account. So for every $10 lunch you have, you will have to save $10.

4. Share soap and shampoo
I have recently started doing this, and it makes a difference financially. Kids soaps and shampoos are mostly all marketing. You can either use what you buy for them, if you are concerned, or buy a brand known for being mild and inexpensive, like Suave.

5. Sell your kids’ shoes, clothing and toys rather than donating them.
Donating is a marvelous idea! I do it all the time. But kids shoes, clothing, and toys have great resale value at second-hand stores. One chain near where I live is called Twice as Nice and it is my favorite place to sell my son’s things.

You can then use the money you get from selling the items to purchase “new” ones (see next point).

6. Buy used shoes, clothing, toys, furniture, and most anything else!
On very rare occasions (namely, holidays and birthdays) I will buy something brand new for my son or myself or our home. Every other time, though, I buy used. Favorite places to shop are Goodwill and The Salvation Army. Both have sales most days of the week, and if you go frequently, you will cut down on the time you spend searching for the good stuff.

Lucky find? An almost new pair of black, high-heeled Tommy Hilfiger sandals in perfect condition on sale at Goodwill for $7.49. Truth be told, I spent about 45 minutes there because I couldn’t find the matching shoe for what felt like forever, but it was a sweet thing when I finally did!

7. Mix juice with water
Juice is very sweet, has tons of sugar, and in general is not recommended as the sole beverage of choice for children. My son’s doctor advised me to give him only 2 oz of juice per day (yeah right). While that’s totally unlikely to happen, what I do is give him 1/2 juice and 1/2 water. It basically makes your juice last twice as long, reducing garbage and helps save your kids teeth and tummies, too.

8. Feed your kids what they like to eat
This is probably controversial, but I’ll say it anyway. If you are busily making big meals with food that your kids don’t like, it is going to waste time and money. Obviously it depends on your family’s way of dealing with picky-ness, but for me, I save a lot of money by feeding my son food that he enjoys eating. That doesn’t mean that he eats candy all day long. But I’m OK with eating spaghetti a couple of nights per week since it’s something he will eat. Rather that, then make a lovely pork roast that ends up being food for me, myself, and I.

9. Don’t change clothes multiple times a day
Washing and drying clothing using standard washers and dryers is not only financially expensive, it consumes a ton of energy. Frequently changing clothing throughout the day unnecessarily will fill up your laundry basket quickly and require more washing. As long as you are not leaving the house, there’s no need to change your kids clothes just because they are a little dirty! You will save a lot of money and energy by curtailing the urge to make them change their clothes.

10. Rent movies from RedBox while you are shopping
This will depend completely on whether or not there is a RedBox near you, but RedBox is cheaper than Netflix, as well as pay-per-view. At only $1 per movie per night, you could rent 3 movies a month and still pay less than what you will with Netflix (which is currently $9/month. Subject to change). Most cities have RedBoxes at nearly all major grocery stores as well as Wal-mart and Target. As long as you rent while you are shopping, you will not have to waste gas going out of your way just to get a movie. To return it, plan to return it while you are on the way to something else.

Written by: Tia Peterson