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Stretching the Single Income Dollar

Feb 25, 2020
Stretching the Single Income Dollar

When thinking of ways to stretch your dollar on a single income, asking for a raise and looking for a higher paying job are great options, but they may not be the right options for you at the moment. We know juggling your family and your finances is exhausting enough. We’ve listed some tips below that can help you better manage your money, without taking on extra work, so that you and your budget can have some more breathing room.

Create a Budget

How you budget is equally as important as having a budget in the first place. Start by outlining one or two specific goals—financial or not—and then determine how much money you’ll need to achieve each. Throughout the month, track your spending habits thoroughly and calculate your income accurately so that you can identify areas where you can and can’t budge on spending limits. Be sure to revisit your budget monthly so that you can make improvements wherever you need to.

Keep Cash Envelopes

Keeping some cash in an envelope tucked away in a safe spot can help remind you of its value. For some, it can be easier to justify spending on non-essentials when they can do quick math to determine what their remaining balance will be or when they can charge it to their credit card, but for others it can be a bit more difficult to commit to spending a large chunk of money when they’re actually holding the cash in their hand.

One benefit of using cash is that when it’s gone, it’s gone! You can’t overdraft your cash and you can’t accidentally dip into your savings account without realizing, which can save you from racking up debt while also helping to keep you on track with your budget.

Start a “No Spend Streak”

A “no spend streak” is similar to a no-buy or low-buy lifestyle. To make saving money more fun for you and your family, maintain the mindset of a no-buy lifestyle and create a “challenge” where you and your children try to see how many days in a row you can go without making a non-essential purchase. Together, you can set a goal, with the reward of one impulse buy per person (or one purchase that will benefit everyone). In addition to keeping everyone accountable, knowing you achieved your goal together will make any treat at the end of the month or year that much sweeter.

During this streak, be sure to prioritize groceries, toiletries, and clothing (only prioritize clothing if the season is changing or your kids have outgrown their clothing and hand-me-downs). That way, if you do have any extra money that you want to spend, you can have confidence that the essentials have been covered.

Shop Consignment

If you need to buy new clothes for your kids, stop by your local consignment shop or thrift store for discounted clothing. Sometimes you can even find discounted items for your home, like dishes and cutlery.

If you’re going to a thrift store like Goodwill, you can buy new clothes for cheap and donate the clothes that no longer fit your child (if they’re in relatively good condition). In addition to doing a good deed, you can also claim a tax deduction for those items and get a few bucks back!

Buy Groceries Wholesale

Shopping for groceries and toiletries responsibly can help you stretch your single income dollar by keeping quantities up and costs down, which is especially helpful if you’re feeding children. While you’ll most likely have to pay a membership fee to shop at stores like Costco or Sam’s Club, the money you’ll save from repeat purchases for necessary items like toothpaste and deodorant will make up for it in the long run.

In general, you’ll get more bang for your buck when shopping in bulk, as bags of snacks and other foods are often more plentiful than the same products sold in smaller packaging in regular grocery stores. To make the most of your money, you can also purchase sale items to stock up for last-minute meals on days when you don’t want to spend money on dinner.

Clip Coupons

Take 30 minutes once a week to look through the local papers and catalogs from stores you frequent and clip any coupons you think could be relevant for you and your family. While this sounds like a tedious task, you might end up saving more than you anticipated.

Stretching the single income dollar can seem like a daunting task, but if you take it day by day and maintain a positive mindset, you and your family can make it work!

Erin Ellis

Erin Ellis
Accredited Financial Counselor ®
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