As a single parent, you're responsible for putting a roof over your kids head, putting food on the table and buying clothes. And unfortunately, your single parent salary may not provide sufficient income. Even if you receive some type of alimony or child support, it might not be enough. Rather than become discouraged, here are seven ways to stretch your dollar when raising children by yourself.
1. Go without
Sometimes, you have to sacrifice to make ends meet. You have to be willing to go without. This could mean canceling or downgrading your cable services, looking for free entertainment, doing your own nails and bringing your own lunch to work. Eliminating or reducing some monthly expenses can generate extra income, making it easier to afford your essential monthly expenses.
2. Enroll in Savings Clubs
Enrolling in a savings club can help reduce how much you pay out-of-pocket for everyday expenses, such as food and clothes. No matter where you like to shop, go online to see if the retailer has an email club. If so, subscribe and you can receive emails advertising discounts and sales, which can save money when you need to pick up a few items. Also, many grocery stores have a discount card that you can combine with coupons to maximize your savings.
3. Don't Use Credit Cards
As tempting as it might be, try and avoid credit cards. If you can't pay off balances in full within the next month, you might add to your financial frustrations. Credit cards create additional bills, and interest charges can be outrageous.
If you need work completed around your house, but you don't have cash, consider bartering. This is a unique alternative where you can trade services with another person. For example, if you need plumbing work and your neighbor is a plumber, you might offer to clean his house or babysit his children in exchange for his services.
This isn't always an option, but if you're able to telecommute, you can save money. Working from home means you'll use less fuel, you won't have to pay for afterschool childcare for your children, plus you can save money by eating your lunch at home, and you won't need to buy as many work clothes. Of course, for telecommuting to work, you need a dedicated work space where you can work uninterrupted. Also, you need self-discipline since you'll be working without a boss looking over your shoulder.
6. Don't Be Prideful
Don't be prideful or ashamed if you need assistance. As a single parent, you might qualify for free childcare, free/reduced health insurance for your kids, or food or housing assistance. Contact your local city government to see if you're eligible for these programs.
7. Carefully Plan Meals
Next to housing and transportation, food can be a big monthly expense depending on the size of your family. To keep your grocery bill affordable, plan your meals carefully and purchase ingredients you can use for multiple meals. You're not wasteful and it reduces how much you have to spend, thus lowering your grocery bill.
Being a single parent has its financial challenges, but you can get through tough times and increase cash flow to care for your children. What are other ways to stretch a dollar when raising children on your own?