It can be challenging managing your household and finances as a single mum. Unless you’re blessed with children that are perfectly behaved twenty-four-seven and a large inheritance from a recently-deceased wealthy relative, chances are you need all the financial tips you can get.
Never fear, saving tips are here. Whether you are new to managing your financial wellbeing, or a seasoned veteran looking to brush up, these steps for saving money as a single parent may help lift some weight from your shoulders.
6 Steps for saving money as a single mum
1. Explore Single Parent Benefits and Financial Help
Firstly, you don’t have to do this on your own. The government has services in place, possibly entitling you to various payment options. If you aren’t already on a Centrelink plan, investigate the government website and see what you qualify for. If you already are receiving some form of payment, review it, programs and payments do change, and it is imperative you are receiving whatever you’re entitled to.
Aside from the standard parenting payment, there are also options specifically for separated parents and single parents. Eligibility varies, however, the amount you are entitled to generally depends on your income, your residency status, and the age of your child/ren.
If you are already receiving all the benefits you are entitled to and still need financial aid, there are small loan options available. Small personal loans may help you out of a tight situation between paycheques. Whilst they shouldn’t be your first option, there are multiple lender-finder services that may be able to help, such as Monzi.
2. Evaluate Your Energy Efficiency
There are a plethora of options for lowering your energy bills and becoming more efficient, but these tips are the simplest and most impactful. As long as you have a ladder and some determination, you can drive your energy costs down.
- Change your lightbulbs to LEDs, or at least the ones in the rooms that you use the most. LED bulbs use significantly fewer watts than incandescent bulbs and are reasonably priced,
- Use dishwashers and clothes dryers at off-peak hours. Depending on your location, off-peak hours are generally 10 pm to 7 am daily, using appliances between these times makes them less expensive to run. And,
- Wash your clothes in cold water where possible. As warm water needs heating, it uses more energy than cold water to run.
3. Optimise Your Bank Accounts
When it comes to saving money, ensure you’re getting the best interest rates on your savings accounts. You’re only hurting yourself staying with a bank that is offering low interest on your savings. If you can, look for rates around the 1.5% mark to ensure your money is working for you.
Once you’ve got a reasonable rate on your savings account, automate your savings. If you struggle with saving money for a rainy day, you can set up your accounts to automatically transfer the desired amount into savings fortnightly or monthly. This may be a very convenient way to build up your savings without having to give it a thought.
4. Cull Your Daily Coffees
It’s completely understandable, you want your complex coffee order made by a barista who knows what they’re doing – but maybe your decaf soy vanilla mocha shouldn’t be a daily ritual. That $4.50 multiplied by 250 working days is a great way to spend $1,125 a year accidentally.
But it’s not just coffee, other costs such as buying lunch instead of making it at home will put a dent in your savings. Reflect on your spending habits, are you frequently wasting money on things you or your kids don’t need? Daily spending adds up, fast. Where possible, try to do things yourself, who knows you might even become an excellent home barista.
5. Create a Monthly Budget
While you’re reflecting on the totals of your daily purchases, why don’t you make a budget? Budgeting doesn’t have to be complicated, break it down into steps and work through them. Firstly set a goal, have a reason for budgeting. Whether to save for something you’ve been wanting or to break a paycheque-to-paycheque cycle, a goal is the driving force of a budget.
Once you have a goal, evaluate your spending habits and gain an understanding of what cash is going in and out of your accounts. Total your bills and the amount it takes to ‘keep the lights on’, these are your minimum costs. Once you’ve done that, budget your weekly grocery shops and fuel refills – all the additional expenses you require. Once you’ve worked this out, whatever is left can go into savings, and you can use it to treat your family occasionally. The worst thing you can do as a single mum is have a blase attitude towards your spending habits.
6. Consider Your Childcare
Finally, one of the highest costs for single parents is childcare. Depending on your job, childcare may be an unavoidable necessity. Ask yourself what you’re looking for in a childcare provider. Is your focus on early education? Or do you just want somewhere fun for your child to spend the day? Perhaps both? What you want for your child/ren will influence your options. Regardless, shop around. Centre fees, and the services they cover, vary immensely. The first option you find may be nice, but it could also significantly hurt your pocket.
If you’re looking for a less frequent childcare option, consider a responsible teenager or young adult. Their asking prices are often lower, and whether they come to you or you go to them, this may be a more affordable option. Don’t forget your parents, either. If they’re willing, your kid’s grandparents may be a stress-free babysitting option in times of need. However, don’t overwork them, and make sure you’re grateful as grandparents are usually willing to do it for free.
These are only a handful of tips and its best to do your own, more expansive, research on the topic. However, being proactive about your savings will help you to see eventual improvements in your financial wellbeing.