It’s been well documented recently that to raise a child to 21 costs the average parent over £200,000. Gulp!
That may sound unimaginable, but how many of us don’t think twice about buying that book the kids have picked up in Asda or splash out on lunch on a day out and suddenly find it cost you £50 to feed four of you. Sound familiar?
I know parenting is meant to hard and a challenge, and the actual undertaking of bringing a child up, or should I say dragging the children up kicking and screaming, to me, is a daily struggle. So having one less thing to worry about is a huge plus to me.
We all deserve a treat, but day to day there’s so many things we could be doing as parents to help as save money, that doesn’t mean having to deprive the kids all the time.
Spend within your means
If you only have £22 till the end of the month, then that’s all you have. Yep, the kids might need summer clothes or want a trip to the movies because it’s half term, but none of this is worth going into debt for.
Think of free activates you could do at home or out and about. Is it cheaper to drive or take public transport? Could you do without that take away this month and cook it at home? Could the kids have a playdate at yours instead of at soft play?
Get the cashout. That £22 then is in your wallet and you know exactly how much you have left. No cards to swipe or forgotten purchases, just the cold hard cash in your pocket.
Set a proper budget
Now, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. Martin Lewis offers a great budget planner, which includes allowing for holidays and splashing out on coffee and cake once in a while.
I’m all about spending less but living the high life. What’s the point in working and saving if you can’t spend your money when you want too?
Before you do anything, cover the basics. Phone up the electric, gas and water companies and see what deals they’re currently offering while searching online for a base price. Check your car and home insurance quotes, petrol usage and talk to the family about how you could all converse energy to help bring the bills down.
Then, it’s budget time and sticking to it. Personally, I do short term goals, as I struggle to picture things long term and have an activity or large purchase in mind. Generally, right now, it’s just surviving month to month that’s keeping me going, but that doesn’t mean it will be the same for you.
Budgeting works for all accounts, and is very empowering (sorry) when you realize you’ve saved something or not gone into debt that month.
Shop via cash-back sites and always price compare
Using a simple app like Quidco, you can earn money back from your shopping. It works on anything you buy online or offline and rewards you with cash. It’s that simple.
I use a range of apps to make passive income, many I only have to sit in front of the TV for and photograph my receipts. I’ve earnt over £100 alone this month by just spending what I normally would then using my apps. Win!
We all know we should turn the heating down, but by turning it down by just 1 degree could save you a massive £90 a year!
Apply this to all your electronics as well, like the TV on standby or the x-box running quietly in the background, and it all starts adding up.
By just switching off your devices at the mains, you could save an extra £30 a year.
Still not convinced? Then reduce your long morning scrub down to just four minutes a day or switch to a bath (yep, it really is cheaper than having a shower) and your morning wash will only cost you 63p. whoop!
Buy reduced items in stores only if you need them
I think this goes without saying. Yep, those pesky yellow stickers sing to us all, but how many salmon fish cakes can you realistically freeze and use in a month?
No point buying to feed the bin. Only buy what you are 100% going to use or you’d may as well not buy it. And I mean, how many kids like salmon fish cakes anyway?
Batch cooking & meal plan
I don’t have a chest freezer, so I only batch cook when I know a hard month is coming. This works for leftovers or if you know tomorrow is going to be a late one.
Why spend £2.75 on a dry sandwich from a supermarket when you could bring your own lunch in for free, especially if it’s last nights’ dinner.
If it’s going off, then use it! Smoothies, cakes, stews, anything where you can just chuck the leftover vegetables or fruits in. Pasta sauces are good to hide it all in too.
Know your dates. Not everything needs to be thrown when it reaches its date.
Loyalty never pays! Which is sad, as most of us just assume that we’re put on the best tariff when our deal runs out. We aren’t!
Switching your energy or insurance company every year could mean an extra £200 in your pocket.
Bank accounts, utilities, any form of insurance, even your life cover. Get your monthly bills out and start checking.
Price comparison sites are a good place to start, just to get a ballpark figure of how much you could save by switching, then make some calls.
Yep, it takes time, something most of us don’t have, but by the end of the day, you could end up saving the family hundreds of pounds!
Even if you’ve just signed for another twelve months or are half way through, call around. It may be worth pulling out of your current deal and being stung the admin charge if overall you’ll be saving £200-£300.
Skim your account
We’ve all heard the phrase ‘look after your pennies, and the pounds will look after themselves’ right? Well with skimming, that’s true! By adding your coppers to a jar, or even transferring the odd change into a savings account, soon adds up.
Don’t let all that small change just sit in your wallet unused, put it somewhere and before you know it, you’d have saved up enough money for a day out with the kids. You can find out more info on skimming here.
Make the most of the charity shops
I’ve picked up many a bargain in a charity shop. I brought a £5 dress that I wore to my sister in laws wedding, new boots that look new for £7 and so many toys it’s embarrassing to mention but all for a pound or less.
Yep, it takes time, but it’s so worth it!
Use your freezer
For anything and everything.
My kids are the fussiest easters ever, so when they go through a stage of not wanting fruit, i buy it frozen. You can buy it all frozen if you want, from strawberries and pineapple to mixed peppers and garden vegetables. None of it is expensive and can all be used as and when you need it.
If it’s going off, then freeze it for another day. You don’t need a big freezer either, just enough room to dump in a few bits and pieces that you can use on your ‘off days’.
Let’s be honest, MOST grownups don’t really want another dust collector hanging around their house. If you have young kids, just get them to make something, like a card or a cake. It’s far more personal and let’s be honest, is cheaper and keeps the kids amused.
Quit expensive habits
Can you really have fun while sticking to a budget?
From free beauty days to free tickets to half price perfume, charity shop clothes and even branding down are just a few tiny things you can do to save a few pounds.
That’s without giving up smoking, alcohol or an expensive chocolate habit. (Guilty as charged.)
Online auctions, stores & social media pages
Shop on eBay or Facebay for school stuff. Check out deal sites that post daily. Take nothing at face value and haggle.
Gumtree has a whole section of free goods, items that people just want to get rid of. Like most things online, it’s all about the community, so join a few sites and post. See what comes up.
None of this stuff is taxing, and all pretty much common knowledge. So why aren’t we all doing it more?