Back when I was a newly single mom working for the probate office and making minimum wage, I had to budget my $1000 per month. It was a struggle. I was on Section 8 housing, receiving WIC benefits, and on Food Stamps. But I still had to take care of my utilities, my car, car insurance, buy clothes and shoes for my baby, and monthly feminine products.
I literally had to find a way to squeeze every drop of money out of my bank account so we could live. Here is how I learned how to stretch my dollar so it screamed:
- Use coupons – I used grocery coupons and discount codes online to purchase what I needed. I got really good at using them so I saved at the cash register for everything I needed. You can cut coupons from the Sunday paper and mailers that come to your house or you can download them to your phone using your favorite store app. If you go online to buy anything always look for a coupon or promo code before you finish the purchase. You may get a percentage off or free shipping.
- Plan purchases – Before you go out to the store or go online think about what you need first. Planning your purchases will save you so much money. When you know the prices of what you need compared to what you have to spend it is much easier to make smart purchases with a plan. Use the get in, get it, and get out method to ensure you stay on track. No lingering or browsing. Know what you want, go get it, pay for it and get out.
- Energy efficiency – Being energy efficient is not just about appliances. It’s about managing all sources of energy, including your body. In the winter, keep your thermostat at 68 degrees and then put on socks, long sleeves, and long pants to keep your body warm. Train your children to do the same. Close off rooms that are not in use to conserve energy. Turn off all lights in empty rooms. Use natural lighting as much as possible during the day. During the summer keep the thermostat on 71 to conserve energy. Wear less clothing, go to the mall for AC, or go for a swim at the community pool. Close the blinds or shades in sunlit rooms to keep it cool. Decide if a room fan makes more sense than cooling the entire home and use ceiling fans to circulate the air at night.
- Crockpot cooking – Use a crockpot to make one dish meals. Add a salad and bread to complete the meal. Put all the ingredients in the crockpot in the morning so by the afternoon when you get home you have ready to eat meals. No waiting and no whining about when will dinner be ready. Just pull your salad out of the refrigerator and heat your rolls then just eat.
Next time we will look at more budget-friendly means to save money.
Samantha A. Gregory is an international speaker who empowers women to discover their feminine and financial power so they can positively influence their world and leave a profound legacy. She is also an author, speaker, and consultant. She is the founder and editor of RichSingleMomma.com a personal finance blog for single moms in Atlanta, GA and around the world.