Most single parents know the challenge of keeping a budget in check. Cutting spending can seem like an enormous task to anyone who is raising a family, but you'd be surprised at how much you can save by taking a few small cost-cutting steps. Plus, by opening an online bank savings account, you can save time and money while staying in control of your money.
- Evaluate your underlying spending philosophy. It sounds simple, but when you recognize the difference between buying what you want and buying what you need, you're less likely to fall into a spending trap and more likely to build up your bank account.
- Start an emergency fund and pay with cash whenever possible. You might be surprised to get a discount —even if it's small—when you ask if there is a cash discount at many retailers. More importantly, paying with cash instead of using credit keeps you from experiencing the stress of all that interest if you don’t pay the balance off each cycle. And with an emergency fund in place, such as in an online bank savings account from Ally Bank, you may have a reserve you can tap when you would have otherwise had to use a credit card.
- Scale back. Do you really need unlimited cell phone minutes or the giant cable plan with hundreds of stations you never watch? Begin to cut back on things that aren't necessities. As a single parent, these decisions fall to you to decide. Some people choose to eliminate their home phone or save money on utility bills by turning down the thermostat, turning of unused lights and using appliances with discretion. Each item only saves a few dollars a month, but together it adds up.
- Pay your bills online. Some utility companies and other businesses will offer you a monthly savings to "go green" with paperless bills. The savings you get on checks, paper, stamps and gas can then be put into your online bank savings account, where it will earn interest.
- Eat at home. As convenient as it is, eating out is almost always more costly than cooking at home. Even a fast-food menu can be surprisingly expensive when you are feeding both yourself and your children. Plan ahead so you don't have to eat out. There are a number of online resources with quick and easy recipes, and you might even consider the "cook once, eat all week" strategy, where you consolidate all your cooking for the week's meals into one cooking session. For example, the tomato sauce for Monday's pasta can become the perfect addition to Tuesday's meatloaf, Wednesday's stuffed peppers, Thursday's sloppy joes, and Friday's make-your-own pizzas.
- Buy and sell second-hand. The options for gently used clothing for both children and adults abound, not only in your own community, but online. Ebay and Craigslist.org are also good online options for buying what you need at a good price and selling what you don’t use anymore to make money. Even if you have the budget for new clothes, buying "gently used" clothing can amount to significant savings—money you can use instead for educational expenses, sports and activity costs, and so on.
Ally Bank has the tools to help you reach your financial goals, from our Ally Interest Checking Account and the Online Savings Account to a full line of CDs and more. Learn more at Allybank.com or call live, 24/7 customer care at 877-247-ALLY (2559) today.