Living on one income is challenging whether you are a single parent, or a family living off of one income, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have financial stability. I may not get everything me and my daughter want as a single parent, but I am able to provide the necessities. Try my strategies to stay financially fit.
Pay bills first, food last
It’s important to eat, sleep, and breathe, but your family’s lifeline relies on paying your monthly bills. Paying rent, gas, water, phone, and electricity bills is essential to living. These are the first things out of my paycheck. Some of my income comes from commission, so sometimes I even make payments towards my monthly bills before they are due and hope there will be leftover dollars at the end of the month. This keeps me from splurging. Then food needs to be budgeted. I save food for last because I find myself picking up unnecessary items that add $10 or $15 to the total bill when there is more money in the bank account. If I know I only have a specific amount of money after paying my monthly bills, then I know I must stick to the budget.
Being social doesn’t have to be expensive
Having a social life seemed impossible when I first became a single mom. I was accustomed to taking my daughter on playdates and to activities without really caring about the costs. This made being a single parent exceptionally hard because I still wanted to live that way, but knew that I couldn’t. It actually took me months to reduce our activity bill. Now that I have learned how to manage being social on a budget, we spend much less on activities. Instead of saying yes to every event, we pick one outing we can afford each week. Sometimes we even carpool with our friends so we are not all driving and wasting money.
The rest of the week we find free activities like hiking, nature centers, sidewalk chalk, parks, and swimming. On weeks when we shouldn’t spend any money on activities we have friends over for dinner and playtime, or meet-up for picnics in the park. We also bring along sack lunches instead of eating out the majority of the time we are out of the house. That alone saves close to $50 a week.
Live on little
My best strategy for not spending money is not having it in my account. When I have extra money I put it away. Putting it in an investment or savings account is one of the best methods to avoid spending extra income. I also work harder when I feel like I don’t have much money in my bank account. Being financially fit is often a mind game.
And don’t beat yourself up if you slip up on these strategies. The more you try to do them, the more you will feel successful and see the money you are saving. That will motivate you to make better financial decisions, and to see the bigger picture.