Let’s face it, times are tough, with junk status and the state of the economy we all need to start running a tighter ship and cutting out a few unnecessary expenses. For single-income families, this can be especially true as one pay cheque doesn’t seem to go as far as it did a few years ago.

If there’s one thing money-saving moms on a single income know, it’s how to stretch a paycheck. They can pinch pennies and cut expenses like no other and yet still make it seem as if the sacrifices were not that big deal.

So where do you start?

If you want to be a smart saver there are simple ways to cut costs. Use these 10 ways money-saving mums stretch their family’s paycheck to manage your family’s budget without you (or Abe) feeling the squeeze.

1. Clip Coupons

Everyone can save money on groceries and regular purchases when you use coupons, it’s just like getting a free bag of money. You might think of vouchers as something you have to clip from the newspaper but many coupons can now be found online. Coupons aren’t limited to food either. You can use them for clothes, pet supplies and computers, just to name a few. These vouchers can be found by a simple google search or apps like vouchercloud by vodacom.

2. Buy Generic

“Generic” isn’t an inferior version of a product, but merely non-branded products. Generic versions of everything from groceries to medicines are available at deep discounts.

If you’re worried about your children’s reaction to giving up name brand foods, try a taste test without telling them. Buy the store brand version of their favourite cookies and see if they notice the difference. Chances are, they won’t. After your tests, you can slowly slip in more and more generic purchases and see how far you can get away without them asking any questions.

3. Get Cash Back

Put money in your pocket for items you already buy. Cash back programs like Absa Rewards, eBucks and UCount give you money back on the purchases you make from your favourite stores in terms of points. It’s a great way to money back on things you always buy from groceries to petrol and in now time you may rack up enough points for anything from a flat screen TV to a well deserved holiday.

Just remember to use these types of cards with caution, though, so you’re not spending more just to get a portion of your money back.

4. Make Your Own Toys

There are toys you can’t pass up on the toy aisle. Then there are those you can make right at home. Homemade finger paint and Play-Doh are just two of those do-it-yourself projects that can save you money.

Making your own toys also provides double the entertainment, one as a craft and one as something to play with when you’re finished. It also gives you a reason to sit down and spend time with your kids and encouraging their creativity.

5. Pack Your Spouses Lunch

When money-saving mums pack their kids’ lunches, they also pack an extra one for their spouse. Eating fast food five times a week is costly and unhealthy. Even if your spouse replaces one fast food lunch a week, the savings will be about R200 a month. That’s R2600 for the entire year.

6. Save Money at Restaurants

Eating at restaurants was such a treat for us as children. That’s because we didn’t have to pay the check.To save money when dining out, eat at a family-friendly restaurant offering free meals for children.

Prices on the kid’s menu are cheap but if you were eating at a restaurant that offers a free meal for children with the purchase of an adult’s entree. Order water to drink instead of sodas or limit your drinks to one round instead of 2 or 3. Another great way to reduce costs on eating out is checking deals sites like hyperli or daddy’s deals for promotions not only for kids but families too.

7. Use a Consignment Shop

Many parents sell their children’s clothes, books and toys through consignment shops. Most items are in such good shape, you can’t tell another child ever used them.

These days you can also do your selling online with sites like gumtree and OLX you can post ads and have the customers come to you. Negotiate your price and even get a better deal for clearing out the clutter from your house. The money you earn from your own sales can fund your child’s next wardrobe.

8. Cut Bills and Banking Costs

Lowering your bills is easier than you think and can save you money on everything from the cable bill to the phone bill. Eliminate unnecessary bank costs. ATM fees, monthly checking account fees and high-priced check reorder eat into a paycheck when they can be avoided. Save money on stamps and late fees as well. Pay your bills online or set up a bank draft so your bills are paid automatically.

9. Investigate Cell Phone Plans

Those ads for plans that include free calls to everyone on the same network sound like a good deal, but they usually come with expensive monthly bills and long-term contracts.

Choose a pay as you go cell phone plan to save hundreds of rands a year and keep you from being locked into a contract. Many prepaid plans offer the same features as those pricey plans, including rollover minutes, call waiting, voicemail and caller ID.

10. Save On Tax

Ensure a bigger return from SARS and look forward to tax season. For those of us raising families, we could use that cash throughout the year. Take out a retirement annuity as well as looking into the use of a tax-free savings account to reduce your tax burdens and also ensure you fill your correct claims.

Every little bit counts

Saving is a habit and needs to start small to get the idea ingrained in your everyday life and get traction going. Once you’ve started cutting down and putting away savings, you will not only find it hugely rewarding and comforting but motivated to beat previous savings and find even better ways to save.

If you think we missed any great savings tips, feel free to share it with us in the comments section below