Last Updated on September 25, 2023 by Lori Pace
When you’re raising a family on a single income, it can be difficult to keep up with the costs of living, especially if they go up. Over the past two years, prices have gone up on everything from groceries to insurance, and while there is some limited evidence that wages are also increasing, they certainly are not going up enough to compensate for the higher cost of everything.
That means that it’s time to start cutting back on expenses and look for out-of-the-box ways to bring in more income.
We’ve put together this little guide to help single super moms keep up with inflation.
For most single mothers, housing is the biggest line item in the budget. It can also be the hardest place to save money. If you own a home, make every effort that you can to hold on to it during this time. Odds are your mortgage is at an extremely low-interest rate, and it will be next to impossible to find something with a smaller monthly payment that will fit you and the kids.
If you’re renting, it’s often difficult and expensive to plan a move to cheaper housing. Weight your options carefully before deciding to look for cheaper housing.
To save money on housing, look instead for ways to cut down on utilities costs. Limiting the use of central heat and air is often the first and best way to cut costs. After that, limit the use of heat-producing appliances in the summer.
To bring in extra income, explore the possibility of renting out extra space as storage or taking in a roommate. Storing items in a basement or spare closet can often bring in an extra $100-$200 a month with limited lifestyle changes. Taking in a roommate can bring in a lot more, but it may mean making some drastic changes to the household.
Perhaps the easiest way to save on food costs is to make as much as you can from scratch. Of course, when you’re a single parent, it can be difficult to find the time to do that much cooking. For many single parents, that means relying on subscriptions to meal kits.
However, such meal plans can be expensive once the initial trial period ends. Save money by canceling your subscription here. Save the recipe cards from your favorite meals, then buy the ingredients at the grocery store. Look for sales, then stock up on the most common ingredients that you use.
Of course, as prices continue to rise, it may be time to invest in a vegetable garden of your own. Not only does it help cut grocery costs, it can be a therapeutic hobby and a teaching moment for your kids!
Start small with a few pots of herbs, then add to your garden as you’re able. Anything that you can grow yourself will be a huge cost savings in the future, and you can be assured that the greens you’re eating are organic and GMO-free. If you have older children, get them involved with the care of the garden. Kids can plant seeds, water plants, and pull weeds. This will instill in them an appreciation for nature and give them a green thumb as they grow older.
Don’t be afraid to try new stores. Farmer’s markets can be a great way to save money, especially if you can shop there near closing time and you’re not afraid to bargain with the farmers. Also, consider shopping at discount stores and smaller grocery outlets.
Car and homeowner’s insurance have sharply increased over the past several years as the costs of transportation and housing have gone up. Insurance companies cite the increasing replacement costs of items that are insured as the reason.
If you’ve noticed your insurance costs have gone up, start the process of reducing your rates by calling your insurance company and asking what can be done to lower them. Often, a few minor safety improvements can qualify you for significant discounts. If that doesn’t help, call an insurance agent, and start shopping for a new policy.
If neither of these approaches works, it may be time to consider something more drastic. In the case of car insurance, it may be helpful to increase your deductible, or even search for a vehicle that is cheaper to insure.
Similarly, look for a way to lower the cost of your home insurance by raising the deductible or making improvements that reduce the risk to the insurer. Often, these types of improvements can take months or years to save for, so even if you can afford payments now, start saving up for big-ticket maintenance items.
The price of used cars increased dramatically at the beginning of the pandemic, and they have stayed high ever since. Of course, for most single parents, their family car is one of the most important assets they own. Without it, there’s no way to get to work or school. If you have multiple children, a personal vehicle is a necessity when bringing them to school or going on road trips together.
While there is a lot of advice out there to trade in a car for something cheaper, a single parent should prioritize having stable and working transportation over saving a few dollars in the short term. That means taking good care of the vehicle you have. Don’t skip oil changes, and take care of small maintenance problems before they become big ones.
While this goes against the “standard” advice, it’s absolutely crucial for single parents to have reliable transportation. That means that maintenance bills should go on a credit card if they can’t be paid any other way. The alternative is to incur huge car maintenance bills or be left without any vehicle at all. Look for other ways to save money than cutting back on this part of your budget.
Look for other ways to cut back on utility bills and other types of miscellaneous expenses. At the same time, start looking for ways to earn a little bit of extra money. While taking on more work hours away from the house is usually out of the question, it might be a good idea to look for work-from-home jobs or smaller projects.