Money saving tips for single mums: 21 ways to save money

money saving tips - mum and daughter saving into piggy bank

One of the biggest challenges of being a single mum is the financial impact. Even so, it can be the last thing on your mind as you navigate the murky waters of a break-up. For many, it’s not until later that the financial implications hit home. You wake up and wonder where the money is going. And then we need all the money-saving tips we can find!

According to a survey by Raising Children:

“Single mums have 47% less disposable income than coupled families.”

Mildly worrying?

Or a reason to get proactive to make more money and to save more of what we make?

Wouldn't it be nice to have money every time you need it? Having savings can make you feel more at peace. If you want to take the strain off your haemorrhaging wallet, it's time to check our brilliant ways to help you save money.

Further reading: 21 Ways for single mums to make money from home.

Simple money-saving tips to help single mums

Save money in the home

Control the temperature

Do you need to heat or cool your house? If so, be mindful of the costs; power bills can be hefty. To maintain the required temperature in the rooms you’re using, shut doors/curtains and use door snakes.

One of the easiest ways to reduce your energy usage is to switch off temperature control appliances when you’re not using them. Start making this a habit and see if it helps lessen your electric bill.

Borrow tools

Borrow tools/machines for home maintenance jobs that you rarely do. There’s always a neighbour or friend who will oblige and you can thank them with a home-made cake or a hand-drawn card from your children, which costs hardly anything.

While we're at it, learn how to fix things around the house yourself. You can do simple tasks yourself instead of paying for professional services.

Time your showers

We Australians love to shower. It might sound over the top, but get in the habit of timing your showers, especially those of your kids. There’s no need to be too frugal; just remember that a number of long, luxurious showers daily will play havoc with your water bill.

Freeze your food

Turn your freezer into your best friend to manage your weekly budget. There are so many ways you can stay within your budget here and prevent food items from going stale quickly. Buy in bulk and freeze. Buy in season and freeze. Cook a huge batch and freeze.

Get more great ideas from this article: Simple Freezer Tips To Streamline Your Kitchen. Aside from reducing food waste, this trick is also a great time saver.

Teach kids about money goals

Teach your children about money by making them do age-appropriate chores for pocket money. Encourage them to save so they understand the value and importance of finance in our everyday lives. You can use a pocket money app like Spriggy or just a good old piggy bank to help you budget and save.

When they're older, you can help them open a savings account. They can put a little in their account each month. No matter how small. Having their own debit or deposit account will also teach responsibility and independence.

Spriggy pocket money -Beanstalk Single Mums

Image: Spriggy for kids pocket money

Save money at the shops

Eat before you shop

Don’t go to the supermarket on an empty stomach. You’ll end up buying food you don’t need and eating half of it on the way home! Have a snack before you go if necessary. And make sure you know all the money-saving tips for grocery shopping.

Oh, and while we're on the topic of shopping, remember to bring your reusable bag. This way, you won't have to pay additional fees for shopping bags.

Make a list

Prepare a list of groceries. Don’t attempt to visualise the contents of your fridge to remember if you need more milk while you're shopping. You’ll end up getting things you don’t need (and forgetting stuff you do need). By preparing a list, you're less likely to overspend.

Stay within your budget

Going on a shopping spree? That's lovely, but make sure you stay within your budget. Leave your naughty-but-nice credit cards at home, and only take the cash you have available to spend.

There's nothing wrong with telling your kids that you need to downgrade on some things due to the rising cost of living. In fact, it'll make your children your partners in this journey.

Buy from charity shops

You can save big time by buying clothes from charity shops. There are some great bargains to be found, many of which are brand/nearly new.

This is especially good for children’s clothes as they grow out of them so quickly (and they won’t know where you got them). Take a look at second-hand clothes shops online; you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you find without having to pay the full price.

Shop off-season

Christmas shopping undoubtedly gets more expensive as children get older. To help you save, spread the cost throughout the year by setting up a savings account with a small automated payment. By the time Christmas comes around, you’ll be off on the right foot with money ready to spend.

Shop online

Try shopping for groceries online. Not only will it save you heaps of time, but you’ll also save money on petrol. You can check out all the current discounts and related products at the click of a button.

But the best bit is that you can see exactly what you’re spending as you shop - a simple way to avoid overspending.

Grocery shopping online - money saving tips

Image: Woolworths Online

Money-saving tips for socialising

Eat out less

Cut back on meals and café dates with friends, especially with your children, as they’ll leave a gaping hole in your purse. Instead suggest you meet at the park or someone’s house where everyone can provide some food/drink.

Another option is to offer to provide the venue and eat at home instead. You can borrow your friend's coffee machine and spend your time gossiping while baking cookies. See how much you can save!

Pay your own food

If you’re lucky enough to have a night out with friends, explain that you’ll pay your own way and make careful, low-cost choices. Don’t get stuck in a round where you could end up paying for other people’s expensive tastes.

I mean, maybe you like buying for your friends, but you're trying to save. Surely, they'll understand.

Check for special deals

Before you go anywhere that costs money, i.e. a theme park, restaurant, or cinema, check online for special deals.

There’s usually something to be had, and you’ll kick yourself if you get there and find you could have saved money by simply printing a voucher.

Coupons can greatly reduce the amount you have to pay. Look at how much savings you can make!

And yet more easy saving tips money smart single mums

General ways to grow your savings

Use your local library

The library is one of the best ways to save money. Not only can you borrow a huge array of books. You can also rent children's toys and even movies without paying for a streaming service.

Our local library has computers available for kids to play games and a selection of floor activities for toddlers. It makes for an easy and free afternoon out. Some libraries will even loan you a laptop so you don't have to buy one.

Not only that, you could rent one of these brilliant finance books that will teach you to budget and save... and even earn extra money!

Cut back on daily treats

Are you buying lunch at work every day or grabbing a coffee after school pick-up? Sometimes, you don't realise they already total at a heavy price tag. Don’t miss out entirely (we all need treats), but try to limit them and see how much you save. 

Spending a little on treats for yourself or the kids is OK... just don't go overboard. Setting a savings scheme like a treat jar can boost your savings for these little doses of happiness.

Check out free personal finance apps

Personal finance apps are a great way to budget and ultimately reach your financial goals. Make sure you check out the many free options available. You can even get free taxation advice.

You're looking for something that you can personalise to help track your spending habits.

Consider your childcare options

Is it costing you too much? There are many different types of childcare available, and they don’t all cost the earth.

Try organising a vacation care club with other school mums, or look into other ways of managing childcare that are less pricey than your current arrangements.

You can literally save hundreds by trying out other options. By the way, have you heard about Australia's Centrelink childcare subsidy?

Keep on top of your bank account/s

Make a time every week to run through your statements online. This way, you can identify any errors (they do happen) and get your head around your income and expenses.

You can then identify where you need to tighten the purse strings to reach your goals.

You must also shop around at different banks. Find one that offers higher interest on your account, and watch your savings grow.

Alternatively, have you looked into term deposits? If you have some money on hand, you can lock it in to secure higher interests.

Travel off-peak

Travel is expensive. If you’re planning a holiday, avoid peak travel times (especially flying), such as public holidays and, if possible, school holidays. Search online for specials and check your loyalty cards to see if you can redeem points for flights, accommodation, or activities.

One of the best money-saving tips for holidays is to Airbnb your home while you’re away. Everybody’s doing it, and it may even pay for your whole holiday!

Save money on your bills

Compare insurance policies

Make a note of when your insurance policies expire, and make sure your crafty insurance company doesn’t automatically roll your policy into another year at whatever cost they choose.

Use super-fast websites such as Compare The Market to compare policies, as you’re bound to find something cheaper.

The same with health insurance. Make sure you have the right health insurance for a single-parent family.

Check your bank fees

Have you checked the fees on your bank account lately? Bank fees can chip away from your savings without you realising.

The banking market is more competitive than ever and some banks don’t charge monthly fees or overdrawn penalties anymore. 

Bank account comparison sites make it quick and easy to find the best deal. No need for bank loyalty here. Swap if you can save.

Purge your memberships and subscriptions

You should regularly review your bank statements and check that you are not paying for memberships or subscriptions you no longer use.

Is your gym membership burning calories or just a hole in your pocket? If you don’t use it, then cancel it.

After all, walking and running are easy ways to help manage your budget... and they're free!

Check the details of your utility bills

How carefully do you check regular payments on your utility bills? Take five minutes to check the details. Are you being charged correctly? If you don’t understand anything, then call and get clarification.

And if you have time, shop around. If you find something cheaper, tell your original supplier, and they may beat the price, so you’ll pay less without the hassle of changing providers.

Conclusion: Tips for money savvy mums

You may think the money-saving tips I've listed above seem basic, and that's why these expenses are so easy to overlook. These are little things that are so ordinary that we take them for granted. But if you take a closer look at your everyday expenses, you'll find you could be spending above your budget!

That's how important knowing how you spend money is to hitting your savings goal. By starting to be mindful of making small changes to how you handle your finances, you can save more money in the long run. Start implementing these tips to make you feel more in control of your savings in the long term.

Who knows? With those small savings, you can one day have enough for that house deposit.

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