According to a survey, the yearly child-rearing was around $12000 per child. And you can only expect this to have grown ever since then. Single parents bear this cost on a single income (i.e., with an average income of $24,400), while couples handle it together (i.e., with an average income of $36,300).
This means single parents indeed have it tough. But a difference of $11,900 shouldn’t have you choosing between your well-being and your kids’. You shouldn’t be thinking twice about promising them lunch or having a fun day with your kids.
So, we’ve brought you some super-smart saving tips that will help you balance the budget and bridge that $11,900 gap to the best of your capacity
1. Plan Your Meals
Food is amongst the biggest expenses for most households. A survey in 2020 revealed that single-parent households spend about 14.9 percent of their total income on food.
So, we recommend beginning your mission to save money with food and groceries. First, review the amount you’ve spent on food alone in the last three months. Calculate the total amount as accurately as possible. Based on the figure you have, determine the amount you deem affordable and appropriate for food expenses.
How to do that?
The average food expenses for one person per month range from $150 – $300. Settle for an amount per person that you think will suffice your appetite.
Once you have a lump sum figure with you, create a monthly meal plan. Determine three different meals for each day. Keep the nutrition balanced and avoid consecutive scheduling of the same dish. Here’s a list of 510 popular healthy dishes to get you started.
Now, prepare a grocery list based on your meal plan. Buy edible stuff in limited and required quantities only.
Pro-tip: Do not plan your meals or go grocery shopping on an empty stomach! Eat well, check your bank statement, review the expenses for the last three months, and then sit down to plan!
Planning your meals and buying edible stuff in limited quantities may make your eating routine a bit too mechanical and boring. To counter that, we recommend keeping a surprise meal every week. You can keep a budget for dining out, ordering something, or leaving that meal to your whim.
2. Use Coupons & Cash-back Apps
Another great way to save is to use cash-back apps and discount coupons. Several supermarkets offer cash-back apps where you gain points for certain purchases. You can use these points to get a discount on other items.
At times, this strategy can be so effective that it can make certain items completely free. For example, if you get a 20% discount on buying an item worth $100, you can buy snacks or bread and eggs with the saved $20.
Coupons also come in handy when shopping for electronics. If you’re not sure where you can find these coupons, we recommend asking around at your local grocery store, keeping a tab on your local newspaper, and browsing online coupon platforms like coupons.com. Cash-back apps like Fetch Rewards and Checkout51 can help you save a great deal too.
3. Cook At Home Efficiently
Cooking a meal at home is seven times cheaper than dining out or ordering a prepared meal. Therefore, you should learn to cook efficiently, so you can save money.
Get ingredients from the grocery store at the beginning of the month, prepare a meal plan, and set up a cooking schedule that aligns with your work schedule. You can prepare meals over the weekend and freeze them, so you don’t have to cook every day. It saves time, which you can invest in work. It might also be a good idea to include low-budget meals in your plan.
You can also save on kitchen costs by switching to power-efficient appliances and cooking methods. Instead of using an over, you can opt for microwaves and toasters. This can cut down energy costs by up to 80 percent. Plus, crockpots are also a good energy-efficient replacement for oven-based recipes. A crockpot consumes only 0.8 kWh of power as compared to an oven’s 3kWh.
Here are some more ways of cutting down kitchen costs.
4. Opt For Family Care Homes
Childcare expenses cost around $1200 – $1300 per month. But there are ways to cut down this expense to almost half.
Well, you can:
- Opt for a family care home: Unlike center-based childcare, family care homes are not run in commercial spaces. Instead, these are run in the owner’s home. Therefore, they’re not only cheaper, but also more reliable and healthier for your child compared to commercial daycare centers.
- Ask a friend or relative to look after your kids: If you’ve got any close relatives or friends living by, invite them over. You can pay them for their time or compensate them with living space at your place.
Both these approaches will cut down your childcare expenses to $800 or less.
5. Don’t Shy Away From Assistance Programs
You’re a single parent, and you’re obviously missing the helping hand you need. And it’s important to realize that there is nothing wrong with asking for help and stop shying away from assistance programs.
Apart from availing of a general childcare support program from the government (where the government provides a monthly allowance for your child), you can explore other policies applicable in your case.
For example, if you’ve recently lost your job or got demoted, you can apply for an increased allowance. You can also take advantage of tax credits for single parents. There are many other options out there, so don’t be afraid to search for the right one!