money saving tips for single moms
Updated April 20, 2021

31 Money Saving Tips for Single Moms

Saving Money

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Money saving tips for single moms are always in demand. Single moms have lots to juggle and money is often one of their biggest concerns. It may seem like there is never enough cash to meet everyday expenses or enjoy the occasional treat.

This can be depressing for moms who just want to live comfortably and give their children the things they need. While it may seem like there is no way to out when bills begin to pile up, the truth is that is it possible to adjust your spending.

Good to Know: One of the most important things you need to do is take a hard look at your spending and see where reductions can be made.

Here’s how to save on everything including food, clothing, and travel.

1. Plan Meals in Advance

Food is one of the biggest expenses in any household. For single moms, especially those with teenagers, food can disappear quickly. This can leave you with a big weekly bill if you don’t plan ahead.
Good to Know: You can save a lot of money if you plan your meals at the start of the week and only buy the ingredients you need to make those meals. You may plan to cook large dinners three nights per week and eat leftovers the other nights. Also, think about what you will need for breakfast, lunch, and snacks.

Bonus Tip 

Before you head to the supermarket, take stock of what you have in your kitchen, so you don’t buy things you already have.

2. Reduce Restaurant Meals

Eating out is convenient but it comes at a cost. If you regularly buy fast food for yourself or your children, you are spending money you could be using for other purposes. Let’s say you currently have restaurant meals three or four times per week. Reducing this to once or twice can help you to save some of your hard-earned cash.

Bonus Tip

If you dedicate a certain day of the week to eating out, it may easier to get your kids onboard. They will look forward to the weekly treat.

3. Clear Out Your Pantry Monthly

It may seem obvious but one of the key money-saving tips for single moms is to stop wasting food. Make it a point to go through your cupboards and fridge every month and check each item. Identify those food products which are nearing expiration and come up with a way to use them.

Good to Know: Don’t be afraid to get creative with your meals just so you can use up the ingredients you’ve bought.

4. Grow Your Own Food

If you already do the above or you’re looking for additional ways to save, consider growing your own food and getting your kids to help. Make it a fun project to gather pots and other containers and plant some vegetables or herbs.

Give your children the responsibility of watering the plants and let them share the joy when it’s time for reaping. Growing as much of your food as you can not only saves money, but it means you know exactly what you’re feeding your family.

Good to Know: It also helps your children to understand where food comes from and what goes into producing the items they see in the grocery store.

Bonus Tip

Window boxes, container gardening, and vertical gardening are excellent ways to grow food when you don’t have a lot of space.

5. Watch Movies at Home

Going to the movies is a popular pastime for many families. However, between the tickets and the food, it can get quite pricy. A cheaper alternative is to try a service like Movie Pass which lets you watch films which are being shown in theatres. Starting at $9.95 per month, it is definitely cheaper than going to the theater. Save the big screen experience for the occasional blockbuster.

6. Find Cheap Activities

Any budget for single moms needs to include family activities. Contrary to what many believe, you don’t need to spend a lot to have an enjoyable time. Keep your eye out for free events in your city and free evenings at museums.

Good to Know: You can also plan family hikes, picnics or beach days which don’t have to cost a penny. You and your children will be able to spend quality time with each other and enjoy the outdoors while limiting your spending.

7. Buy Second-Hand Recreational Items

If your kids are into video games, you already know how costly they can be. It’s more cost-effective to buy used consoles and games from stores or individuals who no longer want them.

Good to Know: If your children need sports gear, see if you can source gently used items from another parent or an online seller. Once the items are in good condition, you have nothing to lose by not buying them new.

8. Use Cashback Apps 

There are several apps which help you to get money back on your everyday purchases.

These apps span both brick-and-mortar stores and online retailers. Some give you back cash while others offer gift cards.

Good to Know: Some of the leading apps are Ibotta, Drop, Rakuten (formerly Ebates), Shopkick, and Paribus.

Bonus Tip

Make sure you only use these apps to get refunds on items you would have purchased anyway. You won’t save anything if you use cashback as an excuse to go on a spending spree.

9. Use Apps That Allow for Creative Saving

Growing your savings is in itself a good thing but if you need a little incentive, you can use an app like Long Game which rewards you when you meet your savings goals. You can also try Digit which automatically moves money from your checking account to a Digit savings account.  This app helps you to save without you even realizing it.

10. Shop Online

Another one of the money saving tips for single moms is to do most of your shopping online. This eliminates a lot of the temptation that presents itself when you go to the grocery store.

It also eliminates the possibility of your children putting things in the shopping cart when you aren’t looking. Online shopping can also allow you to score the best prices for many items.

11. Try to Reduce the Fees You’re Paying

Eliminating unnecessary fees is another method of saving for single moms. You may be paying monthly charges for credit cards, banking or ATM transactions. Examine your bank statements closely to see what you may be paying without realizing it.

Good to Know: Call your financial institution to see if you can switch cards or accounts to effect more savings. If you’ve been with the same bank for years, it’s definitely time for a review.

12. Buy Used Clothing

Every mom knows children grow out of clothing quickly. You also want to have stylish outfits for yourself that don’t break the bank. Any suggestion about saving for single moms must, therefore, include a tip about clothing. Buying used clothing can help to reduce your spending considerably.

Good to Know: If you attend garage sales and thrift stores or use websites like Poshmark and Thredup, you can get clothes discounted by up to 70 percent. Since clothing depreciates quickly, buying used garments makes sense when you’re trying to save.

13. Buy High-Quality Clothing

When you’re buying new clothes, choose pieces that will last a long time. This especially applies when you are buying clothing for yourself. While it is tempting to buy cheap items to save money in the short term, you will have to replace them quickly. It is a better use of your money to buy classic pieces that cost a bit more.

14.  Get a Travel Credit Card

Many single moms with limited funding assume they can’t take their children on a vacation. However, if you seek out a credit card that offers airline miles or other travel rewards, a holiday can definitely be on the cards. You can get a card co-branded by an airline if you fly often. If you can drive to a vacation destination, a hotel card may be best.

Good to Know: You can also opt for a regular cashback card, so you get rewards for everything you buy.

Bonus Tip

Make sure you pay off your credit card in full every month, so you don’t incur high-interest rates.

15. Travel During Off-Peak Times When You Can

This money saving tip for single moms can help to make travel more affordable. Even though you probably have to plan around school schedules, there are still ways to travel off-peak. For example, you can avoid weekend flights.

Good to Know: If your kids are younger, you can also take them out of classes just before school officially breaks if the prices are good.

16. Take a Cruise or Stay at an All-Inclusive Resort

If you’re willing to shop around and you don’t mind budget options, you can take your kids on an affordable vacation. With a cruise or all-inclusive hotel, your lodging, food, and entertainment are all taken care of.

Good to Know: While there are often last-minute deals, you can also plan well-ahead of time so you can pay for the vacation without taking on debt. Some cruise lines let children under a certain age sail for free so that’s an added advantage.

Pro Tip

Send your charges to the supervised kid and teen clubs on the boat or at the resort so you can get some personal time.

17. Skip Hotels

If you have points to redeem, go ahead and use them. However, you should also consider renting a condo off Airbnb or another site. Not only can you save money, but you and your family get a lot more space.

Good to Know: Having a home away from home also gives you the opportunity to prepare some of your meals before you head out to explore. This is an additional way to save money.

18. Adopt a Zero-Waste Lifestyle

If you can cut out waste, you can save a lot. Try to buy unpackaged food items where possible and reduce the use of things like paper towels and aluminum foil. You should also stop buying bottled water and take your own bags to the grocery store.

Good to Know: Go a step further and give your children handkerchiefs to take to school instead of disposable tissues.

Bonus Tip

Get the kids involved in finding creative ways to avoid buying things which will generate waste.

19. Conserve Water and Electricity

Most families can reduce their utility bills through simple lifestyle changes. Conserving water and electricity is one of those money saving tips for single moms which can easily be extended to other members of the family.

Encourage your children to turn off the lights when they leave a room and to turn off the tap while they brush their teeth. Urge them to re-use their bath towels instead of throwing them in the wash after one use.

Good to Know: You should also consider wearing clothing more than once before you wash it unless it is smelly or dirty.

20. Work from Home to Reduce Child Care Costs

A huge portion of the budget for single moms of young children is childcare. Even if your children are in school, you may still be paying for after-school care and this can be around $300 per month for one child.

Good to Know:  If you don’t have family around who can care for your children, consider working from home. This will be easier for some moms than others but if you can reduce child care costs for a couple days per week, you can keep some cash in your pocket.

 21. Pay Your Bills on Time

Single moms often worsen their financial situation by paying their bills late. The late fees mount up and they hurt your credit score, making it difficult to get a loan or rent an apartment in the future. It’s very important that you pay your bills on time.
Good to Know: This may mean cutting your expenses down to the bare minimum temporarily and setting up automatic payments to help you save. If you use many of the tips on this list, it should free up some cash to get you back on track.

22. Get Together with Other Single Moms

There is strength in numbers and many of the financial problems you face are shared by other single moms. Network with them and share money saving tips.

Good to Know: You can plan meals together, help each other with babysitting, clip out coupons or have play-dates. Having a support system can make everything a lot easier to handle.

23. Carpool Whenever You Have the Chance

Parents often have to shuttle kids to school, lessons, sporting activities, and outings.

This can use up a lot of gas, especially if you have more than one child and they have different schedules. Why not form a carpooling system with other parents and take turns transporting the kids? This is one of the top money saving tips for single moms.

24. Make Your Savings Part of Your Monthly Budget

One of the reasons that some mothers find it difficult to save is that they prioritize spending. After they’ve bought everything they want, they have nothing left to put aside.

Good to Know: You should treat your savings like any other bill and pay a sum into your account each month. Even if you can only manage to save a few dollars, it will add up over time.

When you have extra cash, deposit a little more.

25. Buy Public Transport Tickets in Bulk

If you and your children take the train or bus frequently, get the pass which best suits your needs. This will be cheaper than buying individual tickets and it helps you to better plan your expenses. Doing some research into what your state offers can be a big help.

26. Use Cloth Diapers

Disposable diapers are convenient, but they can be expensive and they generate a lot of waste. Cloth diapers are cheaper and more environmentally friendly since they can be used multiple times. Yes, you have to factor in the extra washing but if money is tight, this option can help a lot.

27. Get Free Toys

Did you know companies hire toy testers? Toy manufacturers often want to know how children will respond to their toys, so they hand them over their new products to testers. Your child would play with the toy as usual and you would have to fill out a survey or write a blog post. In return, you will get paid in cash or your child will get to keep the toy. Either way, your child gets to play with a free toy.

Bonus Suggestion

You can sign up with EverydayFamily to get a variety of free baby stuff.

28. Learn to Do Repairs Yourself

There are lots of little repairs that need to be done in a home from time to time. If you can fix faucets or replace broken tiles, you can save yourself some money. You can learn these skills from friends, relatives or YouTube and they are not as difficult to grasp as you may think.

Pro Tip

When you do have to hire a professional, make sure you shop around for the best value.

29. Find a Cheaper Home

Your home may have been the cheapest you could get at the time but if you’re now unhappy with the rent, you should look for a new place. Understandably, you won’t want to disrupt your children too much.

Good to Know: Look on Craiglist and similar sites for places close to where you currently live.

30.  Look After Your Health

Illness is costly and as a single mom, you need to be around to provide for your children. Make sure you visit the doctor and dentist annually and follow their advice, so you remain in good health. You should also avoid smoking, excessive alcohol, and drug use if you want to avoid sickness.

Good to Know: Lose excess weight and eat simple, healthy meals to help you reduce the likelihood of needing expensive treatment later. If you need an extra incentive to lose weight, try HealthyWage which pays you as you drop those pounds.

31. Get in a Free Workout

Many single moms enjoy the benefits of going to the gym. However, when money is tight that costly gym membership may have to go. That doesn’t mean you can’t stay fit.

Instead, come up with an at-home exercise plan or walk, run and bike around your neighborhood. You can also follow exercise routines on TV, YouTube or fitness apps. 

Many single moms struggle to save money. However, there are several strategies they can implement to save on food, clothing, travel, and other expenses.

What is your strategy? Let us know in comments below.

Logan Allec, CPA

Logan is a practicing CPA, Certified Student Loan Professional, and founder of Money Done Right, which he launched in 2017. After spending nearly a decade in the corporate world helping big businesses save money, he launched his blog with the goal of helping everyday Americans earn, save, and invest more money. Learn more about Logan.

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