Kids might be small but they're very expensive- and when you're raising a family, chances are you're doing so on a budget. Living costs are high, and wages can be low- unless you're very fortunate, you probably don't have all that much spare cash left at the end of the month. However there are ways to make your money go further, and living frugally doesn't have to mean 'doing without' or 'scraping by.' Living a wholesome life on a budget can actually be very rewarding. Whether you're doing so to save money or because you need to make your money last, here are a few things to consider.
These days there are tonnes of budgeting apps out there that can help you to efficiently organise your money. To stay on top of things you need to know what comes in and what goes out. You should have a separate account for bills and direct debts, so you're never spending money that's accounted for. Prioritise your essential bills, and then you can see the best way you can utilise what's leftover. It could be spending on something useful or saving it, either way; it prevents it from being mindlessly wasted. .
Make Food Cutbacks
Food doesn’t come cheap, and one of your biggest outgoings as a family is likely to be your grocery shop. However, on top of this, you're probably spending on coffee shop drinks, takeaways, sweets or grabbing a sandwich at lunch. It all adds up! Eating well is vital and you should eat for health, but cutting back doesn't mean going without. Batch cook meals and freeze portions, so you have a convenient backup of healthy meals. Pack your own sandwiches and take lunch to work instead of buying it. Purchase a flask and take your own coffee with you, and keep takeaways to a minimum. If you keep a well-stocked pantry, you won't run out of food and be tempted to order in, instead, you can keep takeaways as a real treat- a planned one!
Sell What You No Longer Need
Kids are expensive because they’re continually growing and they are always gaining new interests. This means they can go through clothes and toys very quickly; they can change so fast that in may cases these kinds of items are still in excellent condition where they weren't used for very long. Instead of just throwing them away or donating them, sell what you no longer need or use. You won't get back the full original price you paid, but it can certainly raise some money which can be used towards new items. The Facebook marketplace, Gumtree and other classified ad sites are excellent for this, as your ad will be seen by lots of local people. That way they can collect and there's no expensive shipping fees.
Plan For The Future
Lots of us live paycheck to paycheck, which is dangerous as it means if we’re hit with an unexpected expense we could be stuck unable to afford it. Starting a savings account gives you a buffer just in case anything goes wrong. Having the right insurances in place can be useful too, taking out home warranty or home insurance is invaluable in case something goes wrong and you can't afford to put it right. Think about now, and plan for the future too.
Debt is a significant drain on a person's budget. This is because it’s so easy to accumulate and when it does you're stuck paying more interest. With many people, it reaches the stage where they can only afford to make the minimum payment each month (which only covers the interest), so the amount of debt is never being reduced. When this happens, and you’re overcommitted, your best bet would be to contact a debt charity or company before you start falling behind. They can often work to have payments reduced and interest frozen, and recommend different plans you can sign up to to get your debt paid off without falling behind with your money. Another option (but one you would need to carry out carefully) would be to take out a consolidation loan or credit card and use this to pay off all other debts. That way you only pay for the one lot of interest, which can work out cheaper. Not to mention it's easier for you too as you're only paying the one bill.
What steps will you be taking to ensure your money is being managed better this year?