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How Single Parents can Save Money!
Raising children today can be incredibly expensive. By one estimate, it costs the average family over $300,000 to care for a child between birth and adulthood.
Single parents have a tougher time of it, especially when absentee parents fail to pay adequate child support or provide help with additional expenses.
If you're a single parent who needs to cut corners, here are a few suggestions that may help:
1. Shop thrift stores. If you're already doing this, watch for the sales. Even thrift shops have discounts! Ask about special sales days, color tickets for price reductions, or two-for-one sales. Shop at the end of the season when stores try to clear their shelves to make room for new stock. You may even want to donate your goods that are no longer needed in exchange for "new" items that others have contributed. Ask your local thrift store manager for special deals like these.
2. Get hair services at the barber college or beauty school. Instead of paying full price at the hair salon, get your children's haircuts (and your own styling or coloring services) at the barber college or vocational school where students are still learning the trade. While they are not yet professionals, their supervisors will be sure they do a satisfactory job or even repair any problems themselves. You will pay a fraction of the cost that you would give to licensed cosmetologists.
3. Shop for groceries in bulk. Many discount grocery chains offer terrific sales when customers buy in bulk and bag their purchases themselves with sacks brought from home. Get dry goods, or commodities, that have a long shelf life on sale. Get fruits and veggies in season and on sale, then freeze leftovers for later. Buy generic instead of brand-name cereal. Use Internet and newspaper coupons for great deals.
4. Use free entertainment options. Go to various libraries to borrow free videos, magazines, and books. Watch for new openings of video or department stores that sometimes offer sample or very inexpensive video rentals to build a customer base. Some family video stores offer free films now, with others at a dollar or less. Take your kids to the playground for swings and slides or to the park for a hike on the nature trail.
5. Conserve energy. Walk when you can to save gasoline costs. Drive less, saving errands to make one round on your next outing. Turn down the thermostat on heating appliances. Turn off lights and equipment that is not being used. Instead of buying a computer or maintaining monthly Internet service fees, use the free library computers to check your email account or do online research.
6. Cook instead of eating out. Experiment with new recipes or let the kids give it a try. Make fun placemats or turn on background music to add a dining flair. Save pennies and dimes for the occasional ice cream treat, or buy snacks that are on sale or in bulk. Make cookies from scratch rather than buying the packaged kind that are typically more expensive. Grow fresh fruit and can it at summer's end for a delicious and healthy alternative to chips and pop.
With a few thoughtful steps, single parents can save money in ways that will make it seem like fun rather than a hardship to the kids. In addition, their children will learn sensible strategies for living wisely and well.
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