I absolutely love being a single mom. I don’t feel overwhelmed or like I need a break at all. I love being with my kids and I love that I can parent them the way I want to. It took me a little while to get here, though. Between the divorce, the rebuilding of my finances and the unknown, I had a lot to reformat for my kid’s lives to run smoothly.
The first item of business was getting my budget in order. The number one tip I can give anyone trying to live within a budget is to make as many bills as possible predictable. Though it can be hard to predict the cost of groceries, electricity and other variables, I find that buying necessities in bulk helps me more than anything! When buying in bulk I know what I have, what I need and how much I am going to spend per order. Here are some tips on buying in bulk and keeping your budget in check.
1. Be realistic about what you need to buy in bulk
Yes, it is imperative that you get your budget into the totally predictable category so that you have few surprises each month. But be honest about what you really need to stock up on in bulk! I may want to load up on laundry detergent for the quarter but I may not have the place to store it all. In addition, with school ending my laundry loads may decrease for the next few months so spending the money may not be necessary just yet. Hold off on what you need until you need it is important! Stocking up on an item you won’t use for a while does nothing but stretch your budget.
2. Pay attention to the ‘family’ cycle
Just as you may have less laundry during the summer, which translates to less detergent and loads, you may have other times during the year that you don’t need to stock up as much. For instance, over the summer my children go to their dad’s for a month. During that time my paper towel, toilet paper and paper plate needs massively decrease! So when I know that month is coming, I put my money away and wait until they are about to come home to stock up again.
3. Don’t get trapped in the ‘subscription’ service
I love to order from places like Amazon as opposed to hitting the bulk stores. I find that in a store, I am tempted to purchase more, but online, I stick to my list. However, there are still traps that can have you spending more than you think! Subscription services where you save a little more by allowing the company to send you the item on a schedule seems like a great idea. But the times I have fallen for it, I found that I may not have been ready to stock up just yet, and ended up spending more than I wanted. So by controlling the ordering manually I can order what I need, when I need it.
4. Never pay for shipping
Most online bulk stores will give you a minimum that allows you to avoid shipping costs. I like to make sure I am at that minimum and choose the longest shipping method to avoid additional costs. If you have not met the minimum, try to hold off on your order until you do. I also never pay for ‘prime’ memberships or annual subscriptions. Read the fine line. There is generally a way to get what you need in a timely manner without paying extra to have it shipped!
5. Only buy non-perishables in bulk
I have done the canned foods in bulk deals, the “surely we will eat all of these apples before they turn” deals and more. But the truth is, even if the food is canned with a long shelf life, I rarely use it all before its end date. Anything we eat I buy for that week at the grocery store. But anything that we use – plates, toilet paper, dryer sheets, etc – I buy in bulk. The key is stocking up what cannot go bad. I purchase baby wipes in bulk, used to purchase diapers in bulk and so much more. But I leave the “great deal” on the 20 bananas on the shelf!
Being a single mom is a lot easier when you know what is on the horizon. When you buy in bulk you spend less that the store, never run out of essentials and can plan your budget per month or quarter more efficiently!
What tips do you have for effectively buying in bulk? How about budgeting tips for single income households?
While you’re saving money on your bulk purchases, make sure to grab some grocery coupons to save at the grocery store as well!
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