A timesaving takeaway here, a boredom-relieving trip to the cinema there, before you know it, a few family treats have made a serious dent in your monthly budget and you’re all resigned to staying in and eating toast for the rest of the month! Whether you want to fund a big family trip like a holiday to Disney in Florida or you’d simply like to have a little left over in your account as a contingency fund for emergencies, let’s take a look at how you can review and reshape your household’s monthly budget. Here’s how to change things up so you’re not left feeling strapped for cash.
Review your spending
Costs of goods and services are increasing in line with rising inflation, so even if your family budget worked well for you a few months ago, you may well be starting to feel the pinch. To identify potential areas for savings, take the time to go through your recent spending. If you live with a partner who shares the cost of the home, it’s important you get them involved so that you a fuller picture of your household spending.
Many banks now have online budgeting tools that show the sectors your outgoings are going on, so you can see which areas are draining your budget. The Money Advice Service budget planner is another helpful tool that can help you make sense of where your money is going, though you can often get some useful insights simply by going through the receipts in your purse and looking at past shopping lists. It’s easy to get into the habit of spending more than you need to when you can afford it, so review your spending with a critical eye and your savings goal in mind.
Analyse your utilities
Are you paying more than you need to for life’s essentials? Gas and electricity can make up a huge part of your monthly expenditure, so if you’re on the wrong tariff there could be significant savings to be paid. If you’re already fairly switched on when it comes to switching providers, should you be looking at efficiencies instead? Putting electrical appliances on standby and running the tumble drier for too long are just two examples of bad habits that could be bumping up your bills. With 88% of households making use of internet connections in 2016 and the number still growing, broadband is now very much seen as a household utility. Make sure you’re not paying over the odds for the time you spend online by comparing the price of broadband and what deals are available.
Plan what you eat
There’s a reason kids are often described as being able to ‘eat us out of house and home’ and when the school holidays come around, their ferocious appetites can really become a problem. If you’re not already doing it, there’s a lot to recommend planning your meals out for the week, even if you only focus on the shared evening family meal.
By knowing exactly what you’re eating when it’s easy to trim your shopping list and save those extra pounds. For extra savings, consider batch cooking extra meals for the freezer when you make things like lasagne, curry or casserole. This way you’ll be less tempted to dial for a takeaway when you’ve had a tough day.
We’re all guilty of wasting more food than we should, so could you make more of those wilted vegetables or sorry-for-themself fruits lingering in the fridge drawer? Find new enthusiasm for turning them into soups for lunches and smoothies, even half eaten bananas can be frozen and reinvented as nice cream on a later date. .
Take the expense out of entertainment
The colder months when kids are less inclined to spend time playing in the park and going on family picnics requires some bravery is typically the time when the cost of entertainment can really be a drain. The cost of soft play, swimming and cinema trips adds up fast, so now’s the time to try and take the expense out of family entertainment. Commit to exploring your local museums and libraries and any family events they have organised. Local children’s centres often offer a good schedule of activities for younger kids or you could keep it as simple as arranging a playdate with another family you know.
If eating out is something you like to enjoy regularly, be sure to keep a watch on your favourite local eateries Facebook page for offers and visit voucher sites to look for discounts ahead of visits to chains. Planning a night out for just mum and dad? Have you considered taking part in a babysitting exchange to lower the cost of going out? If your children are old enough to stay over with friends for a sleepover, why not offer to have their friends stay over next time their parents want to go out so that you both save on sitters and the kids have plenty of fun too.
Boost your bank account
How’s the interest on your current account? If you’re in the black, investigate whether you could be earning more on your money. You could also receive cashback from certain banks for switching your current account, check out This is Money for more guidance.
The other obvious way to give you bank account a boost is to bring in extra income, which is often easier said than done when you have kids to look after. You don’t necessarily need to sacrifice time with your little ones to give your earnings a little bump up. Explore options such as doing paid surveys online with reputable firms like YouGov, make sure you recycle old phones and clear out the kids’ old clothes and toys to sell in bundles. You won’t earn megabucks from any of these activities but they could help you set up a steady trickle of extra cash and help your household budget to look a little healthier.
Are you looking to shave a little off what you spend each month to save up for something special?