Let’s get to the point here, being a single mom is hard. Like, hard hard. You have to juggle raising your constantly-changing kiddo, manage a job (or look for one), care for a home, and manage all of your finances. That’s a lot for anyone, and financial hygiene can often take a backseat.
This means that figuring out how to save as a single mom may not even be on your radar most of the time. When saving is something you’re thinking about, you’re probably only thinking about one thing. “How in the world can a single mom save money?”
No matter who you are, saving money is all about planning. That’s why we’ve put together this guide. Today, we’ll take a look at the three stages of saving money as a single mom so you can start moving towards a brighter financial future.
How To Save Money Being a Single Mom (who’s crushing it)
The first step in learning how to save as a single mom is learning why you should save at all. Chances are, you can think of at least one reason, but there are actually three big reasons to start saving.
First, there’s the most popular one: emergencies. Any time you start learning about money, people tell you that you’ll need an emergency fund. And they’re right!
Life happens. You or your kid(s) could get sick or hurt, leading to time away from work. A natural disaster like a tornado or fire might lead to you needing to find a new place to live and replace items you’ve lost.
You never know when you’ll need extra money to get you through a tough time. Emergency funds are that extra money. Even if your emergency fund is less than $100, something will always be better than nothing!
Secondly, you need to save for “once-in-a-while” expenses. You know what these are, even if you don’t usually give them much thought.
A once-in-a-while expense might be something like a car repair, new shoes for your kid(s), or a yearly expense like renter’s insurance. We all have them, and it’s easy to forget to plan for these kinds of expenses.
When you’re learning how to save as a single mom (and why), it’s important to set some money aside for these expenses. When you’ve saved money specifically for these things, you won’t be scrambling to find the money to cover a car repair, buy those new (bigger) sandals, or renew your policy. You’ll be prepared for them because you’ve been saving a little bit every paycheck.
Finally, there’s the fun stuff. As a single parent, finding those special moments to have fun with your kid(s) can be tough. There’s always more work demanding your attention. Your boss, your kid’s schoolwork, home maintenance…. Again, the list goes on.
That’s why as you’re working on how to save money, being a single parent means saving up that “fun stuff” money is just as important. Even if your fun money just covers an ice cream cone, save money to enjoy time as a family, because you deserve it.
How to Start Saving As a Single Mom
Ok, now that you know why you should save, let’s talk first steps. When you’re new to saving money and you need to know how to save money fast, you need a concrete action plan.
About a third of single mothers live in poverty, which means that saving can be extremely difficult. But you’re a single mom who’s crushing it! You can do difficult things. It’s all about having the right tools for the job.
When it comes to the job of saving money as a single mom, there are a variety of tools you’ll need. These can be brought down to finding your resources and setting yourself up for success.
Finding your resources can take a little time and energy, but it’s always worth it. The important thing to remember here is that the resources you need aren’t always going to be financial. You need emotional support, time “off” so you can take care of yourself, and guidance from parents who have been in the same spot you’re in.
Financial resources are important, too, but saving is as much about your mental and emotional state as it is about the money in your account. If you don’t have support, keeping money in savings will be even harder than getting money there in the first place.
Once you have your resources in hand, it’s time to set yourself up for success. This has a lot of steps, and we’ll get into all of them in a minute. In the meantime, know that setting yourself up for success means picking a savings route that works for you.
Some people are naturally more inclined to save money. These people can set themselves up for success by budgeting accurately so they know how much they can put into savings. If you’re the type that will usually save money, but is having a hard time with it, budgeting is your key to success.
Other people (like me!) struggle to leave money in savings. These people need ways to manage their money (more on that in a bit). If you struggle to save money, you’ll still need to budget, but you’ll also need tools to keep that money there.
Now that we’ve taken a birds-eye look at the plan, let’s talk specifics.
Single Mom Resources
There are lots of resources for single moms out there, you just need to know where to look. When you’re learning how to save as a single mom, take advantage of every resource you qualify for. There’s no shame in using the help available to you!
Reaching out for help doesn’t make you a worse parent. It doesn’t make you “weak” or make other people think you “can’t make it”. Of course you can’t do this alone. No parent can.
The truth is, using your resources makes you smart. It makes you a better parent because it gives you more time to do what every parent wants to do: enjoy their kids.
When it comes to finding single mom resources, your help will depend on your area. You’ll want to look up what’s available in your state or city. You can do that with a quick google search, or by using a site like Single Mother Guide.
Single Mother Guide gives you an overview of everything available in your state. The site was founded by Dawn, who’s a single mother herself. She put everything in one convenient place. You can view, learn about, and apply for all kinds of government benefits. Whether you’re looking for food stamps, housing, or healthcare, Single Mother Guide can help you with everything.
Plenty of single moms make too much for government assistance but are still struggling. If you’re one of these moms, check out The Single Parent Project. The Single Parent Project is a national non-profit dedicated to helping single parents who make too much for government assistance.
They can help you continue your education, pay for extra-curricular activities your kid(s) may want to participate in, and more. Most importantly, they have a thriving community of more than three thousand members online.
Another organization with a thriving online community is Single Parent Support Network. As they put it, their mission is “to give you a hand up, not a handout.. to help the drowning emerge, to help the strong become stronger.” Their resources are divided into tidy categories such as “housing”, “newborn” and “health and safety”.
These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to single mom resources. Few single mom resource groups are nationwide, so look online or use an app like Meetup to find more help in your area!
Single Mom Budgeting Tools
Budgeting as a single mom can be tough because budgeting means spending more time with your finances. Nobody wants to do that, least of all someone like you – you already have a lot on your plate!
As much as you may not like it, budgeting is still a necessary part of financial wellness. So schedule some time to get it done (and maybe treat yourself to something special as a reward).
The great news is that when it comes to saving as a single mom, there are lots of budgeting tools out there.
Our first and favorite has got to be YNAB. Their name stands for “You Need A Budget” and their learning library is available for free and has hours of resources to tap into. Even if you don’t use their app (the app requires a paid subscription), subscribing to their newsletter is totally worth it.
Next on the list is Mint. Mint is a free app, with paid add-ons that can help you with lots of other things. With Mint, you can budget, re-negotiate bills, monitor your credit score, and even invest. Single moms looking for a free app to budget with will absolutely love Mint.
If you’re not a fan of using apps or want to budget manually, there are hundreds of methods you can use to create your own budget. Your budget, at the core, really only needs to do one thing: tell you how much you’re spending.
It really is that simple.
The first few months of budgeting will be the hardest. You’re still learning how much you spend, what you spend it on, and where you can find the money you’ll be sticking in savings.
In fact, you may want to spend your first month of budgeting just logging purchases as you go. This way, when you go to set up your long-term budget, you can decide how much you want to spend. (For more on budgeting, check out our budgeting category.)
How to Save Money Successfully As a Single Mom
When learning how to save as a single mom, you might have struggled to keep money in your account. Small emergencies pop up, you have a long week and spend your savings on some self-care or impulse shopping…. Something always seems to come up that wipes out your savings account.
There’s no way to beat around the bush here, learning how to save successfully is a process. The best way to save as a single mom is to take it one day at a time and set yourself up for success.
One of the best ways to do this is to get a separate savings account. Not just a different account with the same bank, but a totally different savings account. Using a different bank from your normal checking account means that you can’t impulse spend your savings.
When your savings are in an account with a different bank, any transfers will take several days to process. This means that spending your savings is something you have to do on purpose, with forethought.
That time for forethought means that you probably won’t end up spending your savings unless you really need it.
Switching banks is just one way to set yourself up for success. What you need to be successful with saving will be unique, but there’s one thing every single mom can do to save money fast.
Put money in your budget that’s just for you.
This sounds counterintuitive – how can you save as a single mom by spending money on yourself?
The truth is that you can’t pour from an empty cup. Not only do you need to take care of yourself, but you may end up spending more when you don’t have dedicated money for yourself than when you’ve planned ahead and know how much you have for yourself.
When you budget for self-care, you can approach saving and budgeting with a fresh set of eyes. Self-care can give you the extra energy you need to search for more resources, get creative with your groceries or clothing budget, and so much more.
Bottom line, self-care and a support network is the best way to succeed at saving money as a single mom. You need to make sure you’re taken care of, and the rest will fall into place.
How To Save As a Single Mom
Saving money is one of those things that’s hard to prioritize. It’s always at the back of your mind, but hard to tell how important it truly is. When you’re a single mom, there’s always something going on, and saving money can take a backseat.
Building a brighter financial future starts with putting saving and budgeting in the front seat, where you can set short- and long-term goals with your money. Someday, your family won’t just be surviving, you’ll be thriving. And it all starts with changing your mindset around saving and budgeting and learning how to save as a single mom.
We’re here to help with that. For more budgeting and money-saving tips delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our newsletter. We’ll be here to help your family every step of the way, whether you’re new to saving money as a single mom or you’re ready to start investing.