Getting your finances in order can be the first major hurdle for many new single parents. But once you’ve figured out how to make ends meet, how can you save money as a single parent? Money Coach Natalye-Marrie Boyce of The Lone Parent shares five key actions you can take to save money as a single parent, from budgeting to getting a side hustle.
In the UK, the average person saves around £150 a month, however 25% of the working age population has less than £100 in savings and I believe this is due to us not being taught financial literacy when we were young.
I was 29 years old when I learnt how important it was to save for emergencies and large purchases such as homes and holidays.
The biggest takeaway from those lessons was that you didn’t need a large income. I had met people who were on less than £50k a year who owned their homes, went on holidays at least once a year and were living a life free from money worries.
They had emergency funds and savings. Their strategy, which I have also implemented in my own, is to be consistent in saving, no matter the amount and to live below your means.
Having savings creates a feeling of financial security and peace of mind. When we have created a financial safety net, we can think more clearly, regulate our emotions in a healthy way and problem-solve without fear and panic, creating a calm and healthy lifestyle from within.
There is no magic wand you can wave when it comes to saving money. But there are lots of little things you can work hard to achieve. Here are my top five key ways to save money as a single parent.
Knowing your numbers will help you tremendously and reduce the anxiety around knowing whether you have enough to cover your expenses and saving goals.
You can do this by first aligning your budget with your saving goal. So if your monthly saving goal is £200 a month, then the numbers in your budget must reflect this every month.
For example, one year, I wanted to go on holiday back home in the West Indies which cost a little under £10k. My monthly savings goal for this holiday was £730. My salary was not able to cover all of this but doing the budget empowered me because I was able to save £300 towards my monthly goal from my salary and found the money elsewhere.
Without budgeting, you’ll always be spending more than you need to. I noticed with myself and my clients that the number one area where money is being overspent is food, especially groceries. It’s usually because you haven’t done a list for your food shop, visit the shops every day because you don’t have a car, and are not meal-prepping so takeaway becomes a regular occurrence during the week. Taking food as the example, here are some ways to save:
Being minimal doesn’t have to be boring or restrictive. I learnt how to be minimal when I was homeless but I have continued to live this way 10 years later. I know this is not for everyone but I got rid of my television and I’ve not looked back. This has saved me money on cable packages and now I only pay for two subscriptions but it has also made me focused on achieving my goals and finding other things that bring me joy. Here are some other ways to adopt a minimalist lifestyle:
Selling things that I would normally give away or throw out was a game changer for me because it allowed me to get to my savings goals quicker. I also got the children involved too so it meant that I didn’t have to give them pocket money because they would get the earnings from the items they sold. You can pretty much sell anything as long as it’s still in good condition.
We sell things that are no longer wanted or used such as bikes they’ve outgrown, books that are still in good condition, clothes and shoes that have never been worn or only worn a few times and musical instruments.
Creating additional income is the quickest way to save and has helped me with the majority of my savings goals. In budgeting, I explained how I saved £300 every month from my salary to pay for my holiday, but the remaining £400 I needed to save every month came from my side hustle.
My side hustle was nothing special or even creative. I was working as an accountant at the time and knew I needed to make extra money to pay for this holiday so I decided to advertise my services (It wasn’t really advertising, it was a status asking if anyone needed any accounts admin help) to my friends and acquaintances on Whatsapp.
A few people got back to me and they became my clients. I got more clients through word of mouth. My side hustle was doing something I already did in my day job. It was low maintenance but helped me to achieve my goal.
Consistency is key to reaching your saving goals.
Reaching your goal will not happen overnight, but showing up consistently is what will get you to the big picture. It’s not easy, and as you can see, you have to be a little creative to get there but it’s worth it in the end. Implementing these things in my own savings strategy has allowed me to travel the world with my children as a single parent.
Will you be including any of these to reach your savings goal?
Visit theloneparent.com to find out more about Money Coach Natalye-Marrie Boyce’s work.
Find out how other single parents are managing their money by connecting with them on the Frolo app. Leave a post on the feed to ask for advice, or join one of the group chats to get your questions answered today!
The 'Frolo Finances' chat has more than 700 members sharing ideas and getting their questions answered on all things money, so it's a great place to start if you want advice on something specific from people in the same boat as you. We'll see you on the app!