Keep your money safe, your family happy and your worries down with advice on how to maintain a healthy life and bank balance.
One of the most common themes in family life is the worry of having enough money to provide for your children, as well as any other dependents with a good lifestyle. The costs incurred with having a child always come as a shock as your shopping list grows but your income doesn’t. Finding a balance isn’t easy and it might take awhile before you work out what works best for your family.
While most people’s initial thoughts around saving money provide images of empty cupboards and bare walls, it isn’t this in the slightest. Saving money is about shopping smartly and making the most of what is available to you. Start trying to work these ideas into your routines and you’ll see the savings begin to pile up.
Keep it Fresh
When it comes to food, fresh is best and now is almost certainly cheaper than ready-made meals that can be thrown in the microwave. While the excuse of quicker ready meals is still hanging around, the benefits of including children in the cooking process, them understanding what they’re eating, and providing meals where you know exactly what is in it by far outweigh the savings of 10 or 15 minutes. Along with this, the ability to prepare large quantities of food that can be reused for lunches and dinners the following day provides a huge saving throughout the week. Plenty of 15 minute recipes for healthy family meals can be found for free online, for example on the BBC Good Food Guide.
Buy in Bulk
From fresh fruit to toilet rolls, washing-up liquid to school uniforms bulk is always cheaper. As well as making savings on these individual items it will decrease your need to just pop to the shop where you inevitably spend more than you were planning. Now we are in the back to school section of the year there are great deals on bulk buying stationery, uniforms, shoes and everything else to keep your child fully kitted up for the next year. Be sure to make the most of two for one offers, buy one get one free, and the discounts on school uniform while they are now to be able to have more than one pair of trousers that will inevitably gain holes in the knees.
Do the Research and Shop Around
Shopping around locally and online for the best deals is a time consuming job but the savings that can be made are huge. Your first port of call should always be your local shops to help support the local economy, but for those times when the local offers don’t quite cut it, shop around online. There are an incredible amount of resources that provide free and impartial advice and tools to help users save money, such as the money advice service, and price comparison site Money Pug. One of the growing areas for this with the booming market and increased competition from new contenders is the mobile phone market where smaller providers are able to compete with the larger companies.
Cash or Card?
Cards have changed the face of shopping around the world, so much so that cash is becoming a rarity and contactless is now the norm. This change has seen that people are more easily swayed into spending as they’re not actually seeing the physical money leave their pocket. This has seen a rise in ‘impulse’ purchases and ‘small item’ spending. To counteract this set yourself a budget at beginning of the week that you would like to spend then go take that amount of cash out and swap that cash for all the cards in your purse. This will help you keep track of your spending and, barring a minor emergency, will ensure that you remain within budget. It is such a simple idea that works so well. If the idea of using cash for this doesn’t suit you, there are plenty of apps that allow you to restrict the amount you spend every week and will notify you of every expenditure and warn you of upcoming limits.
Set a Savings Goal
Although it can be tricky to tread the fine line between saving money and denying you what you want, striking the balance of maintaining positivity in this project is key. The easiest way is to set a goal for what you will do with the savings you are making, having the incentive of a family holiday will easily put off the desire for a latte and brownie or those shoes that are 50% off! Think of it this way, reducing from 2 to 1 shop bought coffees a day, will save enough in 6 months to provide nearly £500, enough for a family holiday!. I sure know which I would prefer!