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Single parent households are more common than ever before.
Data from 2018 shows that 11.3 million families had a single parent as the head of household, and these parents face unique financial challenges.
The average income before taxes for single mothers is $41,703 and $60,843 for single fathers.
After taxes, the numbers are even lower at $33,519 for single mothers and $46,792 for single fathers.
In this post, you’ll discover eight ways for single parents to save money. Read on to learn how you can find relief from all-too-common financial struggles.
1. Buy High-Quality Secondhand Clothes Online
Buying secondhand clothes for yourself and your children doesn’t mean you have to settle for poor quality. There are plenty of online thrift stores for apparel, shoes, and accessories that are stylish and trendy.
The average household spends $1,803 per year or $150 per month on clothing. That’s just not realistic for many single parents, so consider checking out the following online secondhand clothing stores.
- thredUP – thredUP is the world’s largest online thrift and consignment store. Get clothes and more for up to 90% off and 20% off your first purchase by joining their email list.
- Schoola – Schoola is an online thrift store that raises money for schools; 40% of all proceeds benefit school art programs. You’ll find clothing, shoes, and accessories for women and children at up to 70% off retail price.
- Poshmark – Poshmark is the go-to online marketplace for fashionable and brand-name secondhand clothing. Millions of sellers list clothing, accessories, and more for men, women, and children.
- Swap.com – Swap.com is another platform that offers clothing for your entire family at up to 90% off retail price. When you join their email list, you’ll receive free shipping on your first order.
You can also use these platforms and similar ones to sell your unwanted clothes, shoes, bags, jewelry, and more. Check out these Frugal For Less posts to learn more:
- ThredUP Review 2019: Make Money Selling Clothes Online
- Poshmark Review: A Legit Place To Buy And Sell Clothes Online
- 9 Ways To Make Money Online By Selling Your Used Clothing
- 5 Effective Mercari App Tips To Make More Money
2. Get Cash Back On Every Purchase You Make
From toilet paper to Christmas presents, you can get paid to shop with no strings attached. Check out some of our favorite cash back portals in the list below.
- Ibotta – Ibotta is an incredibly popular cash back app that gives you a $10 welcome bonus for signing up. This easy-to-use receipt scanning app lets you get cash back on groceries, pet food, health products, makeup, electronics, and so much more. (Ibotta Review)
- Fetch Rewards – Fetch Rewards is another great receipt scanning app that offers a $1.50 welcome bonus. Use this free app to get cash back on various items no matter where you shop. (Fetch Rewards Review)
- BeFrugal – BeFrugal is my favorite online cash back portal, and they partner with thousands of retailers to give you high cash back amounts. They offer multiple payment options, so you don’t have to wait forever to get paid. (BeFrugal Review)
- Trunow – It’s hard to avoid high gas prices, but Trunow helps you out in two ways. This app lets you earn cash back on every fuel purchase, and it also displays the best fuel prices in your area. (Trunow Review)
3. Use Free Coupon And Promo Code Websites
I use coupons on almost every purchase I make, so there’s never a need to pay full price. You don’t have to go to extreme lengths and spend hours clipping coupons.
Thanks to coupon websites and apps below, you can access discounts within seconds. You’ll find deals on the essentials you need for you and your family.
- Honey – Honey is a free browser extension that automatically applies promo codes to your purchases. When you’re at the checkout process of a website, Honey will scan their database and add any discounts available.
- Coupons.com – Coupons.com is one of the most popular websites for digital and printable coupons. Coupons are divided into categories that make them easy to browse, and you can download their free mobile app for extra convenience.
- RetailMeNot – RetailMeNot is my go-to website when I want to quickly find a coupon code. Their live database is updated by shoppers and verified by users, and the company also offers local discounts and cash back deals.
- Amazon Coupons – If you’re an Amazon shopper like me, you’ll love their coupons that automatically display for eligible items. You’ll see the discount amount next to the product price and click it, then the discount is applied during checkout.
4. Explore Affordable Housing Options Near You
Rent is undoubtedly one of the most stressful yet important expenses. The national median average is $1,185 for a two-bedroom apartment, and the average increases every year.
Based on the income cited in the introduction, the average monthly income is $3,900 for a single father and $2,793 for a single mother. Once you factor in other common household expenses, the budget for rent is very tight.
There are online resources you can use to explore affordable housing options. Below you’ll find three reputable options that are widely used by low-income families.
- Affordable Housing Online – Affordable Housing Online lets you search for low-income apartments and waiting lists. You can search by city, state, or zip code, and the site links to additional resources for renters.
- PublicHousing.com – PublicHousing.com features nationwide resources for public housing authorities, HUD apartment lists, subsidized housing lists, and non-profit housing assistance. You can also explore eligibility rules for different types of programs.
- HUD – HUD is short for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. You’ll find links for renter, homebuyer, and homeowner assistance along with resources for homeless persons and victims of foreclosure.
These resources will point you in the right direction, but keep in mind that every program has different requirements and guidelines. Keep information about your income and expenses on hand to make your research easier.
5. Use A Free Budgeting App
Creating a budget seems like such an obvious tip, but free budgeting apps truly take things to another level. I use one myself and it holds me accountable more than a pen-and-paper budget does.
Apps like Mint and Wally have unique tools for setting budgets, reminders for bill payment, and alerts if you go over budgets. You select budget amounts for different expenses like food, clothing, health expenses, entertainment, and more.
These apps also allow you to set customized savings goals. From college to emergency funds, setting savings goals and receiving updates can really help you make progress.
6. Join Email Lists To Get Discounts
This is one of my favorite money saving tips for a few reasons. It’s completely free, takes mere seconds, and you receive discounts immediately and down the road.
All you do is sign up for a retailer’s email promotional list to get a special offer, then you’ll periodically receive emails with ads, coupons, and offers.
A small popup usually prompts you to join their email list, or you may see a link for it. If you want to avoid receiving emails, create a free email account just for promotions.
Below are a few examples based on deals I personally used. Check these ones out and visit the websites of your favorite retailers to see what they offer.
- Old Navy – Get 20% off your next in-store or online purchase.
- The Children’s Place – Get $10 off your next purchase of $40 or more.
- Kohls – Get 15% off your next purchase.
- Melissa & Doug – Get 15% off your next order.
- Journeys – Get $5 off your $25 purchase.
- Chicco – Get $50 off your purchase of $199 or more.
- Home Depot – Get $5 off your next purchase.
- Forever 21 – Get 10% off your first purchase.
- H&M – Get 10% off your next purchase.
I can also vouch for the additional savings these retailers promise. I get emails with special percentage or dollar-off discounts that only work when my email address is used during checkout. I’ve also received early alerts and/or early access for holiday sales.
7. Sign Up For Free Loyalty/Rewards Programs
A lot of retailers have free loyalty or reward programs. These are programs where you earn points whenever you make purchases.
Once you earn enough points, you can redeem them for rewards. Sometimes the points give you cash discounts, and other times you get free products.
Here are the free programs I use or have used. They’re great examples to get started:
- Walgreens – Balance Rewards is Walgreens free program where you earn points on the purchases you make. Everyday shopping earns you 10 points per dollar, prescriptions are worth 100 to 300 points each, and the weekly and are full of bonus point offers. For every 1,000 points you earn, you get $1.00 off of a purchase. You can redeem points ASAP or let them add up all the way to 50,000 points ($50 off).
- Starbucks – Starbucks recently changed their rewards programs, and I personally love it and reap the benefits. You earn two stars per dollar you spend, and you can get bonus stars by completing games and offers in the Starbucks app. Once you collect enough stars, you redeem them for free rewards. 25 stars let you customize your drink, 50 stars get you free hot coffee, tea or bakery item, and 150 stars gets you a free drink, parfait, or hot breakfast.
- ULTA – When you sign up for the free Ultamate Rewards program, you earn one point per dollar you spend. When you earn 100 points, you get $3.00 off a purchase, 250 points gets you $8.00 off, and the program goes up to 2,000 points for $125.00 off. You also earn double points during your entire birthday month and a free product for your birthday. If you spend more than $450 in one year, you earn 1.25 points per dollar, get a $10 birthday coupon, and even more perks.
These are just a few tried-and-true examples, but you can easily find more. Check out the website of the brands and retailers you love. You’ll often find info about free loyalty or reward programs, and you can usually sign up in-store, too.
8. Explore Free And Cheap Local Entertainment
As a parent, you’ve probably heard your kids say they’re bored or have nothing to do. You likely feel the same way sometimes, and it can seem hard to have fun on a budget.
Fortunately, there are tons of free and cheap entertainment options for people of all ages. They’re usually local programs and resources, so the exact details depend on where you live.
The list below features ideas that are commonly available in most areas. Check it out to see if your city offers any of these options.
- Libraries – Check out DVDs, audiobooks, and e-readers for home entertainment. See what free classes or groups are offered for children and teens, too.
- Meetup.com – Find local meetup events based on your hobbies, career, and interests. Many of these gatherings are for adults, but there are family-oriented ones and single parent playdates, too.
- Community events – Look up the website for your city or county and you’ll likely find a community calendar. These feature free events for all ages, and you may also find budget-friendly classes and programs.
- Facebook groups – If you search the Group section of Facebook, you’ll easily find local groups for shopping, parenting, hobbies, and more. Join ones that interest you and look for free or cheap local events.
Financial struggles aren’t easy for any parent, but it’s good to know you have many money-saving options. These can help you and your children live a bit more comfortably.
We often cover frugal options for parents and others in financial need. Check out the three articles below to find additional resources, tips, and more.
- 18 Simple & Easy Ways To Save Money On A Kid
- 10 Decorating Ideas For Small Spaces On A Budget
- 10 Ways To Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster