Spring/Summer Edition: 25 Cost Savers for Single Moms

By Allison O'Connor

cost-saver-25Single mothers are undoubtedly the ones who most feel the brunt of economic downturns and weakened economies. In times like these it’s helpful to rethink our budgets and spending habits and find new ways of saving money without sacrificing the quality we are accustomed to.

Therefore, the writers of the Single Moms Channel on SingleMindedWomen.com have compiled 25 helpful tips single moms can consider as they navigate their way through this economic downturn. Although each individual tip may seem small, when you add them up – they equal big savings.

1. Form a carpool for after school activities
Carpooling with neighbors and other moms in school or summer camp helps save you time and gas. You’ll also be doing something positive for the planet by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

2. Combine errands
Taking multiple trips to run errands can quickly empty your gas tank. Not to mention how exhausting it is! Make a list of all the things you need to do before leaving the house. If possible, combine several days’ worth of errands into one.

3. Forget expensive book stores and remember the library
Why spend a lot of money on something that after you’re done with, will sit around picking up dust? Head to the library to pick up books for your child’s summer reading list. If they are all out, consider going to a used bookstore to buy them on the cheap. Another way to put money in your pocket is to gather your old books and sell them to your local used bookstore.

4. Take a “staycation” in your hometown
There are probably many fascinating and affordably priced attractions close to your home that you’ve overlooked. Hit local websites and news sources to come up with a spring/summer plan of all the fun things you can do with the family in your community. Visit a water park one day and a museum the next. Take in a concert at the local park or a play at the community theater. The money you’ll save on airfare and hotel expenses will be tremendous.

5. Skip the movie theater and subscribe to a movie rental service
Nowadays movies don’t stay in the theaters for long before making their way to the video store. By subscribing to a service like Netflix you can enjoy nearly new film releases in the comfort of your home; as well as older movies that you missed, all for a fraction of the cost.

6. Form a parents’ babysitting cooperative
Cut babysitting expenditures by trading off sitting duties with the parents’ of your child’s friends. You’ll save money and your child will have a great time.

7. Cook together
Eating out is the quickest way to burn through money…and in many cases can prove to be less nutritious. Cooking at home as a family can be an enjoyable and bonding experience. Use this time to catch up on your child’s day. If you’re in a crunch for time try picking one day of the week where you make a few dishes that can easily be reheated throughout the week.

8. Carry homemade lunches to work
Make a great lunch from last night’s leftovers and bring it to work in a reusable bag. Over the weekend bake one or two casseroles that can be easily packaged for lunch throughout the week.

9. Consider becoming a member of a wholesale market
Wholesale superstores like SAM’s club and Costco area great way to save money, especially on items that that you go through quickly like milk, sugar, toilet paper, paper towels and detergent. The membership fee associated with these stores typically pays for itself in 4-5 months.

10. Consider selling clothing you no longer wear to consignment shops
Gather all the clothing you’ll never wear again and take them to a consignment shop. Consignment shops offer maximum value for gently worn garments and you have the added benefit of someone doing all the work for you.

11. Trade your children’s outgrown clothes, toys and books
Get your friends and neighbors together for a children’s clothes, book & toy swap. Most children outgrow their clothes before they can wear them out and loose interest in their toys shortly after unwrapping them. Toy and book swaps are a wonderful way to save on expensive items. And if you don’t know anyone else you can pass a used toy or book to? Consider donating to the Salvation Army or local children’s charity.

12. Before heading for the grocery store, make a list…and go without your kids
Wait until your kids are in school or on a playdate to go grocery shopping. Always carry a detailed list…and only buy those things that are on it. Not having the kids tag along will avoid those impulse buys and extra goodies they throw in the cart.

13. Clip coupons
Many websites like coupons.com have online coupons for grocery items, toiletries, children’s clothes and more.

14. Save on fresh produce by buying frozen veggies and berries
They cost less, last longer and have the same nutritional value as fresh.

15. Skip the mocha latte at your favorite coffee spot and brew your own at home
On the average a regular “tall” coffee costs $2.75. Multiply that by 5-7 days a week and you’ve saved a bundle by the end of the year.

16. Check out the dollar bin at your favorite discount retail outlet
Dollar bins have great, inexpensive items that you can use for birthday giveaways, stocking stuffers, school supplies and countless other needs.

17. Buy old fashioned board games and a deck of cards
A lot less expensive than computer games and electronic toys, these traditional games encourage family interaction and togetherness.

18. Bundle your phone and cable services
SMW contributor Jessica Pegis wrote a terrific article on how combining these services saved her fortune Bottom line, a bundling war is shaping up between the cable and telecom companies, and it has a direct impact on the single-parent wallet. It doesn’t really matter as long as you choose: when you bundle you save a bundle.

19. Consider alternatives to expensive monthly gym memberships
Places like the YMCA/YWCA or your neighborhood community center offer full service gyms and a fraction of the cost and also encourage family participation in a host of other activities.

20. Read your favorite newspaper online
A subscription to your local newspaper can be as much as $40 per month. Reading it online could save you as much as $500 over the course of a year.

21. Use cash whenever possible
Interest rates are still high on most store and bank credit cards. Using cash will help you stay within your budget and you won’t incur extra fees on your purchases.

22. Reduce your cell phone bill
In down economic times cell phone carriers are more apt to succumb to your wishes rather than losing you. Ask about deals or special packages that could help lower your monthly bill. If your carrier is still not budging, consider leaving and going with a pay as you go model.

23. Buy generic products whenever possible
For some items on your shopping list consider purchasing the store brand. In many cases you’ll never be able to tell the difference and the savings can be sizeable.

24. Lower your monthly credit card
Many credit card companies will lower your interest rate payment if you simply ask. These companies want to continue doing business with you and prevent you from transferring your debt to a lower interest card.

25. Plant a vegetable and/or herb garden
Even if you live in a tiny Manhattan apartment, chances are you have one window that gets enough sunlight to support a few of your favorite fresh herbs. A small package of store bought herbs sell anywhere from 2.99 and up. If you add up all the money you spend on fresh herbs over the course of a year, the savings is substantial. Now think of the fortune you would save with a small vegetable garden.

More SingleMindedWomen.com articles

Single Mom Meets Budget: Part 1: Cleaning up Your Finances

Single Mom Meets Budget: Part 2: Dumping the Phone Company

The 10 Best Things You Can Say to Your Kids About Money