Figuring out how to save cash while simultaneously raising a family can be quite a challenge. The average cost of raising a child is gradually getting higher, while wages don’t seem to be getting any better. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to resign yourself to struggling every time you want to make ends meet.
Whether you’ve only got one kid, you’re planning a family, or your brood is gradually growing, the more you can cut down on family expenses, the better off you’ll be in the long-term. Here are just some of the way that you can cut the family-sized costs in your household down to something much more manageable.
1. Plan your Meals
One of the easiest ways to cut costs when you’re a family living on a budget is to plan your meals ahead of time. Not only does planning ahead mean that you’re less likely to spend money on takeaways and fast food, but also gives you a chance to tailor your meals according to what’s on sale at the time. Check out your supermarket and write a list of things you can get for cheap, then plan some meals to work with those ingredients.
You could even consider buying slightly more than you usually would, so you can use a key ingredient twice. For instance, plan for a chicken curry on Monday, and chicken stir-fry on Friday. We like to make a meal plan and cook as much as we can in bulk.
2. Keep Birthdays Simple
Birthdays can be an exciting time for both you and your little ones, but they’re also a source of dread when you’re worried about costs. If you’re not sure how you’re going to afford your daughter’s sweet sixteen, or your son’s tenth, then it might be time to reevaluate your priorities. Ultimately, the aim of any great birthday party should be to focus on making memories, not spending lots of cash.
Let your kids know in advance how much you have to spend on both their presents and their parties, then look for ways to have an incredible time on a budget. Alternatively, for those blow-out birthdays like an 18th or 21st, you could always consider taking out a personal loan and spreading the cost over a longer period of repayments. Luckily we only have a one year old so he doesn’t mind budget birthdays.
3. Enjoy the Benefits of Second-Hand
Buying second-hand clothing, toys, and even furniture can be a great way to save yourself a huge amount of money. Not only is shopping in charity stores and car boot sales a great way to protect your budget from some unnecessary overspending, but it’s also a great way to get the kids out of the house for a fun day – particularly as the weather starts to get warmer.
There are plenty of second-hand items out there that you can get for half-price or less, and all you’ll need to do to make them as good as new is give them a quick wash. Remember to check online auction sites for cheaper purchases too – for instance, eBay is always a good bet.
4. Have Fun the Frugal Way
Speaking of keeping the kids entertained, family holidays and time off school are two huge budget traps for today’s families. Even if you’re not planning on travelling somewhere exotic during the time your kids have away from school, keeping your youngsters from complaining about boredom 24-hours a day could mean that you over-spend on trips to the beach or cinema. We often tell ourselves that it’s our responsibility to keep our kids entertained all the time, but it’s worth giving your kids a chance to find their own fun too.
Tell them to set up play-dates with their friends or consider setting up a family movie day where you can all enjoy some much-needed bonding time without the expense. You could also consider swapping trips to the movies to bike rides, or free museum visits when possible too.
5. Cut Down on Housing Costs
As a family, housing is likely to be one of your biggest expenses. The good news is that there are plenty of money-saving tips that could reduce the cost of your monthly bills. For instance, you could consider switching your gas and electricity supplier to someone who offers a cheaper deal. Or you could think about getting rid of expensive television channels and replacing them with a cheaper streaming service.
Installing a programmable thermostat is another great way to save money as a family because it ensures that you’re not wasting money turning the heater on and off at various times throughout the day. For even bigger savings, consider refinancing your mortgage.
What are your budgeting tips?