It can be hard to keep track of your spending each month with a busy family lifestyle. What with the children needing new shoes, after school club fees to pay, and making sure the fridge doesn’t go empty, there can be a lot to consider. But with these 11 handy money saving tips, family budgeting can be a breeze.
Budgeting becomes more of a priority when you start a family, much more so than when you were young, free, and single with plenty of disposable income. Being responsible for little bundles of energy is a big responsibility.
Expecting a new arrival in the near future? Have a read of our article ‘Are you ready for the cost of having a baby?’. This includes more helpful hints and top tips on getting ready for your baby’s impact on your finances.
- Know how much disposable income you have each month
Having a budget is a way of making sure that you have enough money to cover your day to day expenses and essential monthly outgoings. It also helps you to manage your disposable income. This basically covers any money that is left over after you have taken away your monthly outgoings.
Instead of frittering this away on takeaway pizza, you can plan to put a little away each month to save up for a big treat, like a fab family holiday. The 50-20-30 rule is a popular way of working out a rough budget.
This rule suggests: 50% of your income on your living costs and essentials; 20% of your income tucked safely away into a savings account; and the remaining 30% of your income is free to be spent. This can include spending on things like clothes, gym memberships, and mobile phone contracts.
- Be smart with credit card debts
Paying interest on credit cards is a sure-fire way to end up paying out more than you need to. If you have credit card debt, explore options for transferring the balance on to a new card.
There are many cards available that offer 0% interest on balance transfers. Some of these are for up to 40 months at a time. This can give you the chance to pay off the debt over a longer period of time without needlessly paying interest. Signing up for a free Credibble account allows you to see your likelihood of being accepted for credit before you apply- you can view your eligibility and apply directly through the website, saving you both time and money! Check it out here.
However, you should make sure that you have a plan to pay off the debt before the 0% interest period ends. Otherwise, you’ll just end up back in the same situation a few months down the line.
- Bag some charity shop bargains
If you’re looking to save money, one of the areas where you can cut back on spending is clothes shopping. This is especially helpful for babies and young children who tend to grow out of their clothes every two minutes.
Instead of shopping in the usual high street haunts, check out your local charity shops. There are often some great bargains to be had. You can even find brand new clothes that have been donated and sometime designer brands too.
- Share talents with friends
Get together with other thrifty friends and see what you could do to help each other save money.
Do you have a friend who is great at nail art? Arrange a girly evening in to do each other’s nails, rather than shelling out for that manicure.
Or are you a marvel at decorating cakes? Offer to make the cake for your friend’s child’s birthday party so that they can save on that.
Helping each other out with any hidden talents can be great at allowing everyone to save those extra few pennies.
- Get out in the fresh air
Ditch that expensive gym membership. Let’s be honest, most of us probably don’t use them as much as we intended to anyway.
While cancelling your gym membership is great for your bank balance, it doesn’t give you an excuse to start piling on the pounds. There are lots of ways to exercise for free.
Get outside in the fresh air. Take a jog in your local park or cycle along a nearby cycle route. Being outside is also much more scenic and interesting than staring at the gym wall anyway.
If the weather isn’t exactly inviting, make a space in your front room. Get moving with some stretches, push-ups and other exercises while catching up on your favourite TV shows.
- Swap big brands for own brands
Be savvy when you’re shopping in the supermarket. Own brand foods are often almost identical to well-known brands. But they are usually at a much lower price.
Swapping your usual brand food items for supermarket own brands could be a big saver. Give it a try and see whether your family even notice the difference!
- Take advantage of vouchers and freebies
Always keep your eyes peeled for promotional freebies in supermarkets and other shops. These can be great, particularly for babies. I remember getting mountains of free nappies from signing up to various newsletters when my son was small.
Once you have your vouchers, make sure that you use them before their expiry date. It is easy to forget about them if they are stuffed into the bottom of your purse. Make a habit of checking for usable vouchers whenever you’re at a checkout.
- Grow your own veg
Whether you are a green-fingered garden veteran or if you wouldn’t know a spade from a trowel, this one is worth giving a go. Growing your own veg is a great way to save on your monthly food bill. It also helps to get healthy vegetables in the family meals.
Get your children involved too. Even kids who are not keen on vegetables are more than likely to happily munch away on vegetables that they’ve grown themselves.
- Get creative in the kitchen
Cut down on the takeaway meals and get creative with cookery. Cooking family meals from scratch is sure to save you money each month, rather than splashing out on the usual weekly takeaways. It’s also much healthier.
Making packed lunches for the family is also a good way to keep a tighter hold on the purse strings. Buying ingredients is much cheaper than paying for school dinners and expensive ready-made sandwiches.
- Take advantage of your local library
Entertaining the kids needn’t cost a fortune. Pay a visit to your local library to see what they have on offer. As well as being able to borrow books, there are often children’s events running. For younger children, this may be a weekly story time. For older children, there could be anything from a Lego club to a teenage reading group.
It is also worth checking whether your local area has a toy library. These are places where you can go and borrow toys, just like how you borrow books from a normal library.
Your children can choose a toy and take it home for a period of time. Next time, they return that toy and can choose a new one. This is great for keeping the toy collection at home interesting and fresh.
- Successful saving for the future
Celebrating big events can be a costly business. If you’re thinking of getting hitched in the near future, you may want to have a read of our ‘Wedding cost breakdown’ article.
Plan for the year’s big events in advance. This gives you the opportunity to save up for things that are likely to cost more. Christmas, for example, can be eye wateringly expensive with the children all wanting the latest gadgets and designer shoes.
This doesn’t have to be as out of reach as it seems. Put away a little each month and the savings will soon grow over the months. By the time Santa is out on his rounds, you may even find you have a little left over to indulge yourself with a hard-earned treat of your own.