This is the second post from Tiffany, a newly single mom. Tiffany discusses what I describe as going hardcore frugal. This is exactly how you should treat your finances if you’re going through a transition time like hers.
My previous blog post, Single Mom Redux, discussed the challenges my family will be facing in our transition to a one-income family. While I was always the primary bread-winner, my ex-husband’s contribution will be missed. What will really help us is having a solid plan in place.
We had our family meeting last night and put our thoughts and ideas onto paper.
I. Complete Analysis of Spending
A printed bank statement gave us a visual of where we are spending (debit card and check spending). While it’s easy to remember when the car payment is due, I did not have a strong grasp on when all of the “little stuff” came out of my bank account. In some cases, I was even unsure of exactly how much was coming out per month (Netflix is how much per month?).
We have minimal cash spending, so it was very easy for us to see at a glance where most of our money goes. This also gave us a glimpse of our impulse spending. I was completely taken aback by how many $1-$3 fast food breaks I had on there.
II. Is There More Money to be Had?
Can I do some freelancing? Sell some of our stuff?
The determination was made that our primary goal is to make better use of our current resources. In other words, Mom doesn’t really have time for a second job! I’m going to do a little freelance work (writing mostly), and most certainly get back into the groove of selling some of our stuff (de-cluttering is a bonus!).
My daughter is 14 and can do some babysitting work. She has occasionally turned down babysitting opportunities because she preferred doing fun things with her friends. We’ve agreed that money making opportunities for her do not often present themselves, so when they do, she will accept them. This will give her some spending money for her outings with friends and the extra “stuff” she wants.
III. Where Can We Make Big Cuts?
Do we need satellite TV? My 9 year old son is the only one of us who watches TV and it’s agreed that he is happy to spend his time doing other things.
Land line phone? We all have cell phones, and we also have internet-based options that can be explored.
Close examination of our cell phone bill and a phone call helped me to determine that we have a minutes plan that can be reduced to save us about $75 per month overall.
IV. Where Will We Have to Add Expenses?
We live in a rural area and my ex-husband took care of the trash by burning it and making a haul once a week to the local dump for other items. This is not something that we’re prepared to take on, so we will add trash service to the expense of $20 per month.
Minor repairs to home? We may have to contract out some things, but we don’t expect this to be a major expense. My daughter and I will learn to do a lot of things and make an adventure out of it. Also, the kid’s dad (the first ex-husband) and my father will help us as needed.
V. Small Ways to Save that Will Add Up!
- Netflix and Gamefly unlimited rental plans will cut down the trips to the video store where we rent games and movies.
- Save the “big show” for really special occasions and go to the dollar movie instead.
- Start buying the Sunday paper again, or “clip” coupons online for things that we buy consistently. Doing this will save us an estimate of $20 per month.
- Making sweet treats from scratch. Just as easy and healthier. Plus the added benefit of fun family memory creation!
- Whenever possible, anything that can easily be bought used will no longer be bought new.
- Minimize dining out.
- Kids and Mom can both pack a lunch at least half the time.
- We will barter out services with a stylist friend who needs a babysitter.
We felt very positive at the end of our meeting. Doing all of these things will help us to break even and not miss the extra income. Most are minor tweaks and will be relatively painless. We may even end up saving money. But that’s another article….
What ideas do you have for immediate changes that can make a big difference?