*This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, read my disclaimer here.
Trying to save money as a single mom can feel impossible. It’s like the moment you finally start saving something goes wrong. Then, you’re withdrawing the money you just saved or have to put saving on hold altogether.
I get it because I’ve been there but what may feel impossible is actually totally doable! You just have to learn how.
I’ve gone from my expenses exceeding my income to only being able to save $320 to saving $4800 per year!
Here are six things you need to do to.
Commit to an amount and saving frequency
When it comes to saving money, there are a lot of questions you may have. Three common questions are:
- How much do I save?
- How often do I save?
- Am I saving enough?
The answer will always be centered on however much you can afford.
Not your mom.
Not your favorite blogger.
YOU, because as a single mom your financial situation is going to be a lot different.
In order to find how much you can safely set aside without needing your money right back, you have to know how much money is coming in and leaving out.
That “I don’t know where my money is going” isn’t going to cut it anymore!
Yep, that means you need a budget. If you don’t know how to create one, I wrote a post for budgeting beginners you can check out here.
It’s only when you compare your income to your expenses that you will be able to find how much you can save and how often. You get the peace of mind of knowing that you’re saving and paying your bills because you took the time to properly manage your income.
I recommend only contributing to your savings when you get paid, whether that’s weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.
Attempting to make contributions outside of your pay schedule or following a money-saving challenge when you’re a saving newbie makes it difficult to stick to your budget. This increases the chance of you saving something that was really supposed to go to an expense!
Even if you find that you can only afford to send $10 to your savings per paycheck, so be it. Saving is saving and this is the amount you can comfortably commit to.
Small contributions add up over time, and as long as you are actively working towards bettering your finances you will begin to find yourself with more money to save.
Do the mindset work!
If you think you can start saving money without first shifting your mindset to support your new goals then good luck.
Financial management has a lot more to do with behavior than education, which is why many of us start on this journey but soon quit.
Think about it, if you don’t truly believe that as a single mom you can save money then what incentive do you have to actually do it?
If you tell yourself that you’re bad with money, then you’ve already declared that you’ll be bad at saving! If you haven’t faced the underlying reasons why you overspend then you’ll just continue to spend.
Your thoughts control your perception of the world around you, including yourself, so make a conscious effort to feed your mind what you wish to manifest in your life.
Saving money takes extreme willpower and determination. You’ve got to be able to get back up after life (aka unexpected expenses) knocks you down. If you fully believe in your ability to save, you will save!
Set a SMART goal you can accomplish over the next 30 days
Based on the amount and frequency in which you are able to save, set a savings goal you can accomplish over the next 30 days.
When we set goals, especially short-term goals, we prove to ourselves that we’ve got what it takes to get ish done! We become more intentional with our spending, and more willing to push ourselves out of our comfort zones.
To increase the chance of you reaching your goal, be sure to make it SMART:
- Specific (who, what, when, where, how)
- Measurable (how will you measure the goal to know it has been achieved)
- Achievable (is the goal realistic to your current financial situation?)
- Relevant (is this goal in alignment with your overall savings goals?)
- Time-bound (include an exact date in which the goal is to be reached!)
After going through each letter of the acronym, you should have exactly what your goal is, how to achieve it, and when it is to be achieved by!
Once you knock out this financial goal, use that motivation to set your next goal but go a little bigger!
Open a high-yield savings account
A high-yield savings is an account that offers a higher interest rate than traditional banks. It can literally be the difference between you earning pennies for your deposit versus dollars!
Many of these accounts are offered online and require no minimum opening balance nor account balance. You simply open them the same way you would an online bank account and begin saving.
If you’re not sure which account to choose, I wrote a post on the 7 best online accounts to consider for this year!
Set it and forget it…kinda
When your paycheck hits your bank account, it’s going to be a lot more difficult to move your contribution into your savings.
Why? Because you saw it! Remember, saving is mostly behavioral-based, and it hurts to give up money that could’ve been used for something more entertaining!
This is why automation is so helpful. When your contributions are automated, they are automatically deposited into the account of your choice so you’re saving without having to think about it. You can’t make up excuses as to why you never transferred funds over because it’s done for you!
Most employers have the option to set up direct deposit into multiple bank accounts. Simply change your payment elections to include your savings account and how much you would like to deposit per paycheck.
If this isn’t offered, it is often free to set up a recurring transfer between accounts via online banking.
I do this for my savings accounts, so I’m saving even though I don’t really feel like I am! Be sure to check your account periodically just to make sure everything is going smoothly.
Prepare for the unexpected.
As long as you’re breathing, something is going to pop up and cost you money that you didn’t intend to spend. Oddly enough, it seems like these emergencies happen when we make the decision to save!
Do yourself a favor and start preparing for this before you go full steam ahead with your savings.
If you don’t have an emergency fund, I recommend building one to at least $1,000. Although it may not cover a tornado blowing your roof back in full, this will help to minimize the damage to your accounts.
If you already have an emergency fund in place, set aside $50-$100 in a “rainy day” fund to help cover those little uh-ohs. These are not considered “emergencies” but more so screw-ups.
This is when a bill is higher than you expected or you forgot to budget for something that isn’t paid for regularly like property taxes.
When trying to save money as a single mom, these funds will help to keep your journey from getting derailed.
Personally, I use Digit for my rainy day fund. It’s a money-saving app that automatically saves your spare change. I love that you can set up multiple savings goals, or “sinking funds” all at the same time.
You can try it free for 30 days through this link. After that it switches to $2.99 a month, which truly pays for itself!
Find more money to save
Where there’s a will there’s a way, which means if you’re committed to your savings goal then you’ll find a way to make it happen!
Tracking your expenses is the easiest way to find more money to save because the money is already included in your income! It was just tied up in expenses that don’t add value to your life.
To do this, print off your last 3-4 bank statements and review your transactions. Add up how much you’re spending in each category of your budget such as:
- Eating out
- Cable/cell phone plans
Pay close attention to the non-essential expenses, which are those that aren’t absolutely necessary. If you’re paying an amount you’re uncomfortable with, set a more realistic amount and add the money that has been freed up to your savings contributions.
Anything that serves you no purpose, such as that subscription you rarely use, should go!
By cutting and reducing my expenses I was able to free up an extra $350 per month. I did this by:
- Moving to a cheaper apartment with the water bill paid
- Switching to a prepaid cell phone plan
- Opting to take advantage of my company’s work-from-home option
- Lowering my cable/WiFi plan, auto insurance, and renter’s insurance
Adjust your withholdings
If you typically get back a large tax return, especially due to the child tax credit, consider adjusting your withholdings. A large return could mean that you have too much being deducted from your pay.
Consult with a tax advisor or use a tax calculator to help you estimate your tax liability if you make any adjustments to your W-4. Should you decide to do this, use the extra money to apply to savings.
Take advantage of large sums of money
Whether it’s a tax return or a court settlement, use large sums of money strategically. They are great for both playing catch up and getting you ahead financially.
I know how easy it is to fall behind on bills so doing this will be a game-changer.
As a single mom of two, I can say that I would not have been able to save money as comfortably as I did had I not used my large sums of money responsibly.
Find a side hustle!
Side hustles are anything you do on the side for extra income. It is not your main source of income.
This can be anything from taking surveys to running an online store.
When searching for a side hustle, ask yourself:
- What skills do I have that I can monetize?
- What do I love doing?
- How much time do I have available each day?
- How much money do I want to make?
My main skill has always been writing, so I took up freelancing and brought in up to $400 extra per month. This allowed me to pay off debt a lot faster which in turn freed up more money to save!
Make it a point to use your earnings wisely in order to knock out your savings goals.
If you’re not sure where to start on your search, I created an eBook with 20 of the most profitable yet flexible side hustles! Included is a How to Get Started section for each hustle, where to find opportunities, resources, and a monthly side hustle workbook. Check it out here!
The journey to save money as a single mom may not be as fast or as easy as it may be for others. That’s okay, just know that it IS possible.
Having clear goals, a plan of action and strong faith will take you a long way!
If you’re serious about saving money this year, I highly recommend taking my free email savings course. Click here to grab your spot!