We surveyed the Single Mom Defined community for their best tips on financial wellness that could be lifesavers for fellow moms. We’re all doing our best, but sometimes, the thing you haven’t thought of yet could be the thing that helps you completely turn your financial life around! That’s why it’s so beneficial to have a circle of support to share information you may not otherwise access. We call this the smart money moves for single moms guide. 

Let’s keep it real: divorce or separation from a partner can leave your finances in absolute shambles. Costly legal fees, the division of assets, and even going from dual income to a single salary can wreak havoc on your bank account balance, budgeting, and your nerves. 

But don’t despair, Mom: With a lot of planning, some creativity, and a little help from your friends (and by friends, we mean us, your Single Mom Defined community!), you can make smart money moves that take you from living paycheck to paycheck to building wealth and leaving a legacy to make things easier for you and your kids now and in the future. 

So we’re spilling all the tea! Let’s get into these smart money moves single moms can make now to invest in the future for their families. 

Smart Money Moves For Single Moms

Get Real

“Save your receipts for 30 days to see what your true spending habits are at least twice a year. Cut out what is unnecessary.” – April J.

First and foremost, you must take a hard look at your spending and get a handle on any areas where you may be overdoing it. No matter how much you can earn or save, you’ll always be in a deficit if you spend everything you make without realizing it. 

SMD Community Member Heather P. says, “Cash is king,” and we agree. Using cash for purchases helps you to see your budget getting smaller physically and can help you curb unnecessary spending that doesn’t hit as hard with the swipe of a credit or debit card. The Budget Mom recommends using the cash envelope method, where you put a specific amount of cash in one envelope per spending category and don’t allow yourself to spend more than the amount of cash in that envelope. Placing a hard limit on categories where you tend to overspend, like groceries and streaming services, will help to get that area under control and bring more overall financial awareness into your life.

“Get everything you can in your name and build your own credit.” – Annette M.

This is also a prime time to review your credit report and credit history. Are there things that are still jointly in your name and your ex’s that you need to take your name off or have solely in your name? Are there items you can dispute to help raise your credit score? 

Make getting the most accurate picture of your financial situation your priority, and then you can look towards earning and saving. 

Get a Side Hustle

An excellent way to build your earnings is to get a side gig! 

Find out what you’re good at or like to do in your spare time and find a way to monetize it. Do you love braiding hair? Do you like decorating cakes?  People will pay money for what you enjoy doing, and it’s another form of income that can help your budget.  My colleague/friend and I do program evaluation, and I use the money for home improvement projects and incidentals.” – Alicia J.

If you don’t feel incredibly passionate about anything, look for ways to earn money by helping others with their businesses. Get part-time work helping out a friend or small business owner, or look for side gigs online, like being a virtual assistant, transcribing audio or video files, becoming a virtual tutor, or a customer service representative. The great thing about many of these options is that you can do them from home and save on babysitting fees. If you’re a content creator, email us at hello@singlemomdefined.com. We’re always looking for moms to share stories on our blog and social media channels. Having a side hustle will also help if you are a family that does not receive child support

Having a financial goal as a single mom is important. These smart money moves for single moms are a great way to get started on your financial goals. Get Creative with Earning

Not sure you can commit to a regularly scheduled part-time job or side hustle? Try earning money by occasionally selling things your family no longer needs or earning passive income through perks and rewards programs. 

I’m an avid seller on reseller sites like Poshmark and Kidizen. Kidizen lets you sell new and pre-owned clothing for women and kids, and Poshmark allows you to sell just about anything you’re willing to ship for kids, women, men, pets and even the home. Both sites take a percentage of your sales through fees, but I find it’s worth it for the convenience of built-in search and followers. I’ve had items from my shop sell without any additional effort while I’m driving or hanging out on the beach. It’s an awesome way to make passive income from things I no longer need or my daughter has outgrown.” – Kim B.

In our digital world, you can sell almost anything you no longer use. Host a yard sale in your neighborhood, or join Facebook yard sale groups to sell lots of things at once and bank the cash. Or sell things more passively, recurringly using Facebook Marketplace or eBay. Both allow you to sell your pre-owned items locally or by shipping to the buyer where they live. 

Taking advantage of perks and rewards systems with credit and gift cards is an easy way to make passive income. They can help you build a nice chunk of change for buying things you would buy anyway!

“I buy gift cards for gas points; for example, if I’m going to a restaurant, I buy a gift card for the restaurant and earn gas points. It’s a win-win.” – Farah M.

“Use apps like Fetch (points towards gift cards) and Rakuten (cash back) to reward purchases that you are going to make anyway.  I’m also on the Amazon Shopper Panel, so I get money every month in my Amazon account just for uploading receipts for things that I’ve purchased.  So far, I’ve earned $280 in rewards that I then use to make money off of future purchases.” – Alicia J.

Get Creative with Saving

Just like you can get creative with selling your pre-owned items and earning rewards and cash back, you can do the reverse and shop the same way. Shop second-hand stores or yard sales for clothing and household items, and buy your weekly or monthly groceries at savings-focused grocery stores like Aldi or local farmer’s markets. Some cities even have free stores–picture a consignment shop minus the price tags. 

When you’ve used Fetch or Rakuten to earn all those points and rewards from the shopping you’ve already done, apply them to future purchases to get your items at discounted prices. 

Get into the Market

Investing in the stock market is one of the most savvy ways to earn money in our global economy. It can be overwhelming, but learning how to invest can be a game-changer. You can start small by buying employee stock if you work for a publicly traded company or downloading easy-to-use apps like Robinhood to dip your toe in the water. Since we at Single Mom Defined are not financial advisors, our best advice is to consult one. If a personal financial advisor is something for the future budget, you can look for local and virtual workshops that offer free planning to help you get started. And if this still feels like too much, make it a stretch goal you can revisit when you’re ready to leap. 

Get Your Kids Involved

So many people struggle with finances as adults because no one taught them the basics as children or teens. However, ensuring each generation has the education and skills to manage and grow money properly is part of creating generational wealth. Teach your kids everything you know about making smart money moves so they can have a leg up and apply to them in their adult lives. They will be the stewards of the wealth you build and the legacy you leave behind. If you’re in Pittsburgh, sign up for Fund My Future.  By opening a qualifying savings account for your child and depositing at least $1 per month, you’re entered into a monthly raffle with a  prize pool of $2,000. A few Single Mom Defined members have won cash–one took home the $1,000 prize, and our Founder, Heather Hopson, won $50!

Which one of these smart money moves for single moms resonated with you the most? Do you have one to add?