Today I have a guest post from Megan of Momma Loves Money. She and I have some different viewpoints on some of these so I thought it was pretty fun to see things from two different perspectives!
As single moms, we have to do everything! We cook, we clean, we work, and we work, and we work. Now, if we could just find a way to save some money, we could work a little less. This would allow us to spend more time with our little ones. That’s my idea of the good life, just me and my babies!
In my quest to earn more and spend less I’ve come up with 5 ways for single moms to save money.
Stop Paying For Day Care
Child care is such a huge portion of the single mom’s budget. If you have kids that are not in school, you pay $500-$700 every month for someone to watch one child. If your kid is in school, and you work, you are still looking at paying for before and/or after school care. This runs us about $200-$300 every month for one child.
I’m not telling you to just dump your kids on the side of the street or leave them home while you work. I am advocating that you don’t pay child care by finding ways to work at home.
Alexa’s note: I do pay for childcare. I personally treat my freelance jobs very seriously and there’s just no way that I’d be able to work if I didn’t take Ava to the babysitter. This is an expense that is one hundred percent worth it to me.
I pay $100 every other week for childcare for Ava. It was $150 every other week before Kailyn started school. (Rotating pay with the girls’ Dad. My babysitter, who I love like family, charges $20/day for one kid and an additional $10 for the second.)
Don’t Bring Your Kids Grocery Shopping
Have you ever noticed that when you bring your kids shopping with you, the cart fills up faster than ever? Kids and grocery shopping just don’t mix.
You are so busy trying to keep them happy that you grab stuff you normally wouldn’t. You end up getting distracted and not getting the best buy for something. I know that I never remember that coupons, deals, and strategy I planned to use when the kids start making me unorganized. The easiest way to save money on groceries is to go shopping alone.
Alexa’s note: I one hundred percent agree on this one! I hate taking my kids grocery shopping.
Teach Your Children to Save on Utilities
Just the other day, I realized that I had taught my kids that lights needed to be turned off before we left the house. I was corralling everyone to the door, and my daughter kept disappearing. I finally realized that she was walking into every room, flipping the lights off and closing the doors. I guess my “OCD” finally rubbed off on her.
The point is that no matter how conservative you are with your utilities, you still have to worry about your kids. There is only one of you and at least one of them. If they aren’t working towards the same goal, you’re not accomplishing much.
The trick is to stop and show them how to turn the water/lights on and off and when to use them. When your kids are brushing their teeth, teach them to turn the water on, wet their toothbrush, turn the water off, brush, turn the water on, rinse, and turn it back off (all the way).
Alexa’s note: Agree on this one too. Ava runs around flipping light switches on and off. It drives me insane. And there have been a couple times where I realized one of the girls left the water on ten minutes after brushing their teeth.
Buy a House
This may not seem like a tip to save money since I am telling you to spend it. But, if you look at the costs of renting vs. buying – you will be much better off if you buy.
The house I currently live in costs me $725 every month in rent. This is a 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 1048 square foot house. It is currently valued at $76,801 with $948 in taxes every year.
Current mortgage interest rates are at 3.8% in my area. On a 30 year mortgage, with 0% down, I would pay $421/month plus about $158/month in taxes and insurance. All in all, buying a house would save me $146 every month. And, this doesn’t even count the fact that I am investing this money instead of throwing it in the trash by renting.
Alexa’s note: I agree to a point. Rent is really high compared to buying in my area but I don’t think running out and buying a house for the sake of saving money is a good idea. I am really glad that I didn’t end up buying a house when I got divorced just for the sake of buying a house. (Which I almost did.)
And I wouldn’t say that renting is necessarily throwing money in the trash. We’ve seen how the housing market can crash. Just because you buy a house doesn’t mean that you’re getting an appreciating asset. Also there’s no maintenance or repairs as a renter. Plus, you need to have some pretty large savings in place to buy a house.
Teach Your Children That Fun Doesn’t Cost Money
I recently had been really busy and hadn’t spent much time with my boyfriend’s son. So, on the way to school one day – I asked him what he wanted to do after school if he could choose anything. His answer was that he wanted to go to the park 5 minutes from our house! Easy and free!
I believe he has the mentality of those kinds of things being fun treats because we have never gone to theme parks, or zoos, or other costly attractions very often. When we spend time together, we are actually spending time together. We don’t do expensive outings with the kids, and they appreciate the quality time.
Alexa’s note: Couldn’t agree more! (Although I do really love Chuck E. Cheese…)
Anything to add?
About the Author
Megan Harvison is a single(-ish) mom who strives to make more money from home, and spend less to become a stay at home mom to her daughter and her boyfriend’s sons. She spends a lot of her free time writing for her blog called Momma Loves Money.
Laurie @wellkeptwallet says
Great thoughts here, Megan! We take our kids grocery shopping, with the goal of having them help us see how little we can spend/how much we can save. It’s fun having them help compare prices, find the better deals, etc., and I like to think we’re teaching them a bit about how to budget when they’re grown. How to we avoid the pleas to buy “stuff”? We just always say “no”, or “only if you’ve got enough of your own money”. Now they don’t ask anymore. 🙂
I let my kids price compare at the dollar store or flea markets. With their current ages taking them to the grocery store is a total nightmare! When they get a little older I think I’ll have them help with the groceries. 🙂
Joyce @ My Stay At Home Adventures says
I agree with these tips. Though owning and maintaining a home can be costly when you are a single mom.
Finding fun free things to do with kids is a challenge but they always turn out to be the most fun and memorable. The housing part is complex. It depends where you live, what the housing marking is like and your own situation. There is no one right answer there. I recently sold my house and moved to an apartment. It is a temporary situation (I think) but I am loving it. I love not paying for any upkeep, my utilities are much lower, rent is lower than my previous mortgage. As a single (ish) mom (moved in with boyfriend whose job takes him away for a week at a time), I don’t have to shovel snow, cut grass and living on the second floor I feel safer than my one floor house with multiple doors and windows to monitor for safety. I am now saving instead of living check to check. For me, I believe, this is the better decision.
Yeah it’s definitely a personal decision.
This is a little embarrassing to admit but I’ve never mowed in my life! I have two brothers. Growing up we lived on ten acres that required a ton of mowing so my brothers or Dad used a tractor to do that. The one time I tried to use the tractor I almost knocked over a porta-potty (at my Dad’s greenhouse.) When I was married my then husband loved to do yardwork so he always mowed. My trailer is right by my Dad and brother so they just drive the tractor up and mow my yard too. So if I moved too far away and my brothers and/or Dad couldn’t mow for me I’d have to pay someone else to do it. (I have no desire to start mowing now. I’m almost thirty lol) So that might not be the best example but it’s one way that owning a house where I didn’t have the help of my family would equal another added expense that might make owning more.
I think owning a house can save you money, in some situations, but there’s just a whole lot to factor in.
I think you hit it on the head. What is the right choice ? The one that moves you away from living paycheck to paycheck. : )
Sometimes there are other considerations like not wanting to chang the kids school etc. I don’t know that I would move to a cheaper place if it was just to save money and put me in a car commuting for an hour.
How long does it take to qualify for a mortgage after foreclosure ?
Megan @ Momma Loves Money says
It depends on the type of mortgage you are trying to get. Last I heard FHA was 3 years and VA was 2. But, it goes from the date your foreclosure is actually complete.
Me and the ex got our divorce decree in December 2008. He was deemed responsible for the mortgage and the house was his. He stopped paying the mortgage about a year later. My name was still on the deed and the loan. i constantly got calls about getting out of debt, blah blah blah. But, I couldn’t do anything about it. I was too young to know that I should have stipulated that he MUST refinance and remove my name. The foreclosure process started around the summer of 2012. The house was officially showing as foreclosed on my credit score in February of 2014.
Megan @ momma loves money says
I’m so proud to be have my work published here. I love how you added your take to things.
You are right that not everyone has the same situation with buying a house.
In my situation, buying in optimal. But, I have this horrible foreclosure hanging over my head from divorce and can’t get a mortgage for another year. Let’s just say, I have been saving up money like crazy waiting on the day I can buy a house. In my area, Lee County, Fl. You can find plenty on nice houses that are not likely to drop much in value because they already hit rock bottom 6 years ago.
Thanks for guest posting. I love this post Megan!
It’s nice to have another viewpoint on these types of things! And yes, I do believe the housing situation is just a very personal choice. For some people it might work out great and for others it won’t. There’s a lot to factor in to that one.
I’m not a single Mom but all of these tips resonate with me! I have really started talking to my daughter about the importance of conserving energy and water so that we aren’t being wasteful. I definitely want her to appreciate that not only from a financial perspective, but also an environmental one.
How about car repairs? The average car is 11+ years old, and 80% of cars are out of warranty. Openbay is a free app that allows Moms (& Dads) to quickly comparison-shop and book service with a local mechanic. Comparing multiple offers is a great way to save up to 50%.
One thing I do with my girls that really doesn’t cost much is bake. I would normally do it anyways so they had a fresh yummy treat, but this way they are part of it and they learn too (just don’t tell them that) > This past weekend, we made cup cakes and homemade icing, and then I let them decorate the cupcakes with some sprinkles from the bulk barn – I think the mix cost me 2$ and the sprinkles cost roughly the same, but it took us 2 hours and we had fun – and I love having them help me!
These are some very interesting money saving tips to consider! I appreciate the no babysitter one, and I plan to work remotely so that I don’t have a sitter and can be more present in my daughter’s life than I could be if I was working a regular, full time job. I feel like children need the experience of grocery shopping so that one day they will know how. My daughter loves shopping, so I don’t forsee myself doing this one in the future as you did. I can see where both of you are coming from and you both made interesting points when discussing buying a home. As a single mom, I like the idea of the repairs and things not being one more thing on my plate, but I also like the idea of owing my own home one day and investing in that sort of an asset.