As a mum of two small kids, I’m always looking to try and save money. Before the little squirts came along, my husband and I love to save, to then blow it all on one mega out of this world holiday a year. Now, even a weekend trip to Butlins seems out of our league.
It may (or may not) surprise you that recently The Telegraph confirmed what we all feared. That to support one child up to the age of twenty-one will cost the average parent £230,000. Ouch! And you’ve guessed it; that doesn’t even include university fees.
So if like me you are suddenly feeling a bit hot under the collar, then here are nineteen tips to help you save a few pence here and there, because as someone once said; if you look after the pennies, then the pounds will look after themselves. Thanks, Granddad.
1. Make Your Own detergent
Okay, so this might seem a bit radical but bear with me here. For a little under £20, you can make five gallons of your own detergent. If won’t clean all those weaning bibs or the poonami all over your kids best baby grow, but it’s fine for the average day to day wash:
3 bars of fells naptha
1 box of borax
1 box of washing soda
2lb box of baking soda
Large tub of OxiClean
Purex laundry crystals (optional)
2. Sales Shop
I’m sure I’m teaching you to suck eggs here, but buying clothes full price when you need them is mega expensive. I try and buy winter clothes when they go on sale in the summer ready for the following year. If a few items don’t fit exactly right by then, I’m not that annoyed about it as I saved money on all my purchases overall.
3. Make Your Own Toys
We’ve all been there. You spend forty quid on a VTech watch or singing Elsa to find the kids would rather play with the box. Now, I splash out of one big thing each, then make everything else. One of their favorites is still Cheerios is a plastic box. Give them a couple of plastic cups and they just keep filling them up and emptying them for ages. Another is the nappy box. Ideal for the aspiring little robot or TV presenter.
4. Buy Second Hand
This leads me nicely on to local sales, Babybay and swapping sites. My local NCT branch organizes Nearly New Sales twice a year. You pay for a seller’s pack, label everything up and drop it off on sale day. You don’t even have to stay! Babybay and swapping sites are becoming more and more popular. I use them when the kids need a few extra toys or DVDs but not clothes normally. For the next size up, I normally ask around my friends. Most of us have clothes that our kids have outgrown and no longer need and can’t be bothered to take to the charity shop.
5. Buy in Bulk
The bigger box of wipes you buy, the cheaper they are. Works with most things, apart from cake, unfortunately.
6. Cook from Scratch
Yeah, this is a pain in the arse, especially if you’ve been up all night and the witching hour is between four and six pm. I don’t cook every night, I’m not superwoman, and with my husband working shifts, a lot of the time I only have mine and two very small picky mouths to feed. So now I upcycling leftovers to create multiple meals. For example, if I cook a big gammon for Sunday lunch, we would then use it for cheesy pasta bake the next day and sandwiches for preschool.
7. Baby Wipes
I use baby wipes for everything! From dusting the TV to picking up jelly thrown all over the dining room floor. If you go through them like I do, then why not try making your own? There are loads of easy to follow tutorials out there, and before you know it, you’ve knocked another couple of quid off your shopping bill this month.
8. The Pound Shop
I hate to say it, but I love The Pound Shop. They have loads of cheap and cheerful stuff perfect for school supplies, party bag fillers and kid essentials like Calpol. Win!
9. Switching Supermarkets
Again, pretty simple but when we switched from Asda to Aldi we managed to half our weekly shopping bill. Nope, we didn’t starve, and if anything we started to eat healthier. Full of non-branded goodies and British-grown fruit and veg, we can now fill up our trolley with a week’s worth of food for £45. I’d admit, we can’t get everything, but we try and make a list of all the “Asda things” we need and go in once a month for these essentials.
Just doing these simple nine things has saved me hundreds of pounds over the four years I’ve had the kids. Yep, it’s not glamorous and it certainly does take more time than their counterpart, but I’m hoping if I make savings on these little things then I’ll be able to pay for the big things that always seem to crop up when having kids.