In addition to the budget post from a week or so ago, I wanted to share some money saving tips I’ve learned or come across through the years that have worked for me! Single mom life usually equals the budget mom life!
💵 Start Logging Purchases and Expenses to See Where Money is Going: When I first decided to start really cracking on my budget & trying to build even a little savings, the first thing I did was start tracking ALL of my expenses for a month or two. Most bills stayed around the same – phone, utilities, internet – but some things fluctuated quite a bit & it was shocking to see how much money would be wasted in the dumbest places. This is what also led to me budgeting out every single expense so my weekly list would zero out. That helped a ton!
💵 Meal Plan, Make a Grocery List, and Always Clean Out Fridge Before Grocery Shopping: One of the things that also dinged my budget was grocery shopping all loosey goosey with no plan of meals or what I should be buying. This always ended up either with random purchases, and stuff that didn’t quite work or was missing something which meant I ended up back at the store…again for more random crap & the cycle kept on. I sat down with my kids one day, and we wrote down all of our favorite meals/sides to have a master list. Every week I sit down with the list, make out our meal plan for the week, and the grocery list to go along with it – AFTER checking the fridge & pantry & using up anything that needed to be, and making sure I don’t buy an ingredient we already have. That was another thing that got me! I’d come home, unload groceries & realize we did not need any more yogurt or tuna or whatever. One time I asked my oldest (12) what she needed from the grocery store, & she said “I need more tuna!” So I added a four pack to the list. Came home, unloaded groceries, and found another 4 pack in the cupboard, along with 2 other cans. So we were good on tuna for awhile. She’s done the same thing to me with tortillas, and suddenly we have 4 bags…I don’t put anything on the list that she asks until one of us physically gets up & checks to see if we need it now! One more grocery thing I think I wanted to touch on – check out coupon sites & apps! I use Ibotta, & have for awhile now so I can’t say much for any others. But I have saved over $200 on there in the last year – and $60+ of that was around Christmas, which was a nice bonus for gift giving time! They have a referral program as well – we both get $10 if you sign up and start using Ibotta with my code! It’s super easy to use too. Lately I’ve been doing most of my grocery shopping via Walmart Pickup. You sign in to Ibotta, add your Walmart account, put your Ibotta stuff on your list, add that to your cart, purchase & it automatically redeems for you! Otherwise all you have to do is scan either the QR code on a receipt, or the whole receipt to match your offers. Doesn’t take long at all & is super worth it when the savings start to add up!
💵 Make/craft gifts: So, I know this isn’t for everybody and I happen to be super crafty (ie: own a lottttt of craft supplies I need to be using). But, as moms will know, a lot of times getting something from your child – grandparents especially, aunts & uncles, etc – is so much more special than just rummaging around a store trying to find something to buy. Not to mention, anyone that loves you would never want you to stress/go broke/over budget trying to buy them something! I’ve got a post in the works with some thrifty/inexpensive homemade gift ideas I will link here soon! In the meantime, Pinterest is a gold mine for things like this.
💵 Use the Cash Envelope System: this is something that may work well for some people, and not at all for others. I’m kind of in the other category, as far as using cash, but I do my budget in a very similar way to cash envelopes. The problem I have with the actual cash envelope system is that I never use cash for anything, all my bills are paid online, etc. So instead of doing it that way, I divide my budget up into “envelopes” essentially. If you’re interested in how I do that and want to try versus the traditional envelope method, go back a few & check out this post!
💵 Keep Your Change: Again, as someone who rarely uses cash, this doesn’t help a ton. However, in the past when I have kept change, it does add up when you cash it in every year or so, & is a nice bonus around Christmas time, etc.
💵 Shop Around For Prices on Extras: I live in a small-ish town, so there isn’t a ton of choices for things like phone/Internet/utilities etc. But I have been able to shop around for internet cost & when discussing with a friend recently, we realized I am paying almost less than half of what she paid for internet/phone services. So it may pay to shop around periodically!
💵 Create a Budget for Big Expenses: Each season (fall/winter & spring/summer, as we live in the Midwest) I have to buy a new “wardrobe” for my girls. I use the word wardrobe loosely, but for conversation sake. I usually figure out a budget for each a few months before (initially I had the amount equal for both, but I soon realized I can get a lot more pieces for my four year old than my 12 year old for the same price…so now usually my oldest has a higher budget so they end up with about the same amount of clothes in the end – or more so enough to get them through a week-ish). Anyway, once I have a budget in mind I start putting away money each month so when it comes time to buy clothes, we are ready. I usually try to wait until there’s a sale, but I also have a Target Debit Red Card, which is automatically 5% off. Which isn’t a ton, but it all adds up in the end. I do this same thing for Christmas – loosely have an idea of what I want to get/spend on my kids, and the rest of our family, & squirrel away money each week/month until it’s time to shop (and also pick up gifts here & there if I come across sales).
💵 Round Up When Paying Bills: So, this is kind of a weird one & I don’t know if it really helps anything. But I figured I’d mention it because it kind of falls under a budget umbrella. Anyway, each month when I pay a bill, if it’s an odd number I round up. If a bill is $63 something, I round up and pay $70. It brings down the payment for the next month a little bit, and continuing to round up leaves a bit of a cushion eventually. This can be helpful when it comes to kids birthday times or Christmas, etc. Paying less on a bill can open up that money for savings for something else eventually.
💵 Round Up & Move The Excess To Savings Periodically: Every payday, I look at my bank account & move some money over to my savings. If my balance is $106, I move $6(& change) to my savings account. I don’t miss it, and it could be as much as $40/month extra going to savings. If I budget that, it seems like a lot & I wouldn’t be able to do it. But moving it like that just means that’s one less coffee I can get – which I shouldn’t be doing all the time, anyway.
💵 Have a No Spend Day/Week/Month: This is actually a goal I’ve been working towards for awhile – it is not easy! I have started slowly & made a “no fast food” for a month plan, and that was more difficult than I anticipated – mostly because I do not love to cook & meal planning is overwhelming to me! But seeing how much we saved made it fun! I don’t think I could do this every time, but saving up the money we would’ve eaten out with & adding to savings that week/month was fun to see. Eventually I’d like to try a no spend month – maybe a small allowance for groceries/other small toiletry needs, or else just stock up when I can and really try to have a true no spend month!
💵❗️What other ways do you try to save money?! Let us know in the comments!