Raising a child is a rewarding experience, but it’s also very costly. Here’s a shocking fact: raising a child can end up costing you more than a house over your lifetime. Your family will also take a hit to their income when one parent decides to take maternity/paternity leave and become a stay-at-home parent.
Whether you’re frugal or looking for ways to save money, there are plenty of ways for single parents to stretch a dollar further. Here are a few of the best ways for a stay-at-home parent to save money without sacrificing too much on lifestyle.
Saving While at Home
Being a stay-at-home parent will save you on some costs that you would otherwise incur if you had to go into the office. Upwards of $600 could be saved from costs you no longer incur.
- Child care costs can run almost $300 a week.
- Automobile costs will drop significantly. Between gas and maintenance, you could save hundreds a month.
- Food and beverage costs from morning lattes, eating lunch out, and after-work drinks with coworkers can run you upwards of $50 a week or more.
- Reduced taxes paid because you have a lower tax bracket. While not a true savings, you will keep more of the income that is earned.
Set a Budget
Setting a budget is important to keep your spending in check. Not only will a budget help stop you from overspending, but it will also help you achieve your financial goals. Figure out how much you can afford to spend on discretionary expenses like groceries and gas and track your spending. You may be surprised to find out you’re spending $100 a month on takeout food – by adjusting your spending, you can use that money for something more helpful like saving for your child’s education in an RESP (Registered Education Savings Plan).
Your life can be hectic when you’re raising a child and working a full-time job at the same time. If you have some extra time on your hand, you can dedicate more time to frugal shopping. Instead of paying full price for groceries, you can shave money off your food budget through coupon clipping. If you’re able to save money on products you normally purchase, you’ll be laughing all the way to the bank. Many retailers price match as well – by simply bringing a copy of a rival store’s flyer, you can save even more money.
Live Within Your Means
Living within your means is vital to growing your net worth. If you find that your paycheque is often gone within a few days, chances are you’re living beyond your means. By tracking your spending, you can see areas where you can cut back. If you’re living paycheque to paycheque, your finances could be put in jeopardy if the breadwinner is laid off from work.
With more time on your hands, you can carefully plan your meals and avoid costly and unhealthy takeout food. It can be helpful to set out a plan for meals for the coming week. Not only does cooking in batches save time, but it also saves money by not having to order pizza. Also, instead of buying bread, why not purchase a bread maker and make your own bread? There are plenty of recipes to try out online and from cookbooks at the public library.
Once a Week Shopping
It can be easy to use shopping as an excuse to socialize, especially when you’re a stay-at-home parent. Driving every day to the grocery store can be costly, especially with the price at the pump. Instead, take an inventory of the food you have at home and limit yourself to only going shopping once a week.
Family and caregiving benefits
The Canadian government has a wealth of support benefits for families and caregivers alike. Whether you are pregnant or adopting a child benefits are offered to expectant parents. During pregnancy, until the child is an adult you can find help to fit your needs and circumstances.
- The Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program helps pregnant women and new mothers facing challenges
- Maternity and parental leave for the parents of a newborn or newly adopted child
- Registered Education Savings Plan for education after high school
- Canada Child Benefit helps with the cost of raising children under 18 years of age
- Child Disability Benefit for a child under age 18 with a severe and prolonged impairment
- Canadian Benefit for Parents of Young Victims of Crime will help those suffering from the loss of a child
No matter the reason you have chosen to be a stay-at-home parent, there are ways to save money. You can also subsidize your income through government aid if you are in need. Making smart choices and using available resources can help reduce the financial strain being a single-income family may impose.