First Person: Ways I Save Money as a Single Parent

Yahoo Contributor Network

It doesn't matter if you are a single parent or a two-parent family-- there must be limitations with finances if you expect to save money when you have children. For me, there were a lot of lessons to be learned when my daughters' dad decided to move on, making me a single mother. Going from a financial contributor in the family to the head of household meant I needed to learn a lot about spending money with a child. Here are the lessons I learned:

Sometimes kids need to hear the word "no"

I was a fairly generous person before I had my daughter, and after having her, I realized that I love to spend money on other people! The amount of joy that I get from spending money on others is a problem, and I realized that when I became the primary caretaker of my daughter. When her dad and I were together I would buy things for the household, and spend somewhat freely when I took my daughter to stores. I was buying her books all the time, taking her to do fun activities that cost every week, and not packing enough sack lunches. After her dad and I moved to separate households, I tried to keep the same lifestyle as we had before, but quickly realized the financial strain that was creating. I couldn't continue life the way it was before, so I began looking at my receipts. Now my daughter has to pick out the activity she really wants to do for the week, and the rest will be free options. She also hears the word "no" more often when we visit stores. This alone has created close to $200 extra in my wallet each month.

Creating a reward system

Once my daughter turned three, she "needed" everything! Whether it's milk from a coffee shop, toy, or a book, she needs it. She currently carries around a page ripped out of a Babies 'r' us catalog that has a motorized Minnie truck that she needs. After a few times of begging me to buy her loads of things, I have moved to a reward system. She gets points for behaving, obeying, and listening, and she loses points for bad behavior. Once she gains 10 points, I give her options to pick from. Not only am I saving each week with the system, but I am also in control of how expensive the options I give her are.

Not giving in to single servings

When you care about every dollar, it is frustrating to go into a store like Target and have your child sneak single packets of applesauce and cookies onto the conveyor belt. Each one of those is at least a dollar when I could have bought an entire jar with over 10 servings for $2.50. There was a week that I spent an extra $20 on single servings of milk and snacks. Marketers know this, and they know how convenient it is for busy parents, but after seeing the price difference, I do my best to always bring some from home when I go to these stores.

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