Hi, what’s your name? Helen, but I blog as GG, from Actually Mummy
Any kids? 2,aged 5 and 8
Why do you work? I work for my sanity, to exercise my brain, and to feel like something other than a mum. Oh, and the money helps, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t!
What are your child care arrangements? I work when the children are at school, and after they go to bed. I could easily work a 7 hour day every day; such is the flexibility of working from home.
How do you manage for money? At the moment we spend everything we earn, and it is tight every month.
Do you worry about money? Yes. I’m don’t like not having savings or just a small amount to fall back on in case something goes wrong. When I worked full time we always saved a fair bit every month, but now we just can’t. As the children get older the things they want to do cost more money. We could stop their out of school clubs, but I don’t know how I’d justify it given that they benefit so much from doing the things they enjoy. Plus music, sport and drama will give them so much in their lives as they grow.
What do you waste money on? Wine and food treats at the weekends
Have you made any big financial changes since having kids? Yes, our income has dropped by £62,000 since I stopped working. Equally, we go out less, because it’s not affordable any more. We used to eat out every week, usually somewhere lovely and not cheap. Nowadays we cook at home. We’ve even cut out takeaways, because it’s cheaper to make your own. The most we do is buy a really nice ready meal like the M&S Dine in for £10 range.
How do you make extra cash? I take about £300 a month from the blog in sponsored posts, on top of earnings from my work.
Can you share 3 top budgeting tips for other parents?
1. Meal plan. And don’t just buy extra ingredients every week. Every now and then, when I need a cheaper week, we eat from the freezer and cupboards. There’s always some frozen mince or fish, and a jar of sauce in the cupboard.
2. Make an effort with the washing. If there’s any way I can get my washing out, even just to take the edge off for a couple of hours, I do, rather than using the tumble-dryer. I also weigh up how dirty my washing is, and unless it’s really dirty I use half the amount of powder with a few added soda crystals instead of using a full scoop of powder
3. If I’m using the oven, I’ll think ahead about what I can put in to get the most out of the session. So if I’m doing a casserole, I might bake some potatoes or make a pudding to bake at the same time, so that the oven is full. Then they just need 10 minutes to heat up the next day. If you really can’t fill the oven, stack baking tins in the other shelves. This reduces the amount of air to heat, so it heats up quicker and retains heat longer. I often switch off the oven 10 minutes before the end of the cooking period, and just leave food in there to finish cooking.
Thanks so much for you answers.
Helen Wills is the ghostwriter behind Actually Mummy. Together with her children, GG and the Bug, she navigates the rollercoaster of parenting with a frightening lack of expertise and a heavy element of winging it. Helen shouts, nags and curses too much. But she also bakes, reads and hugs to excess. She writes about the chaos of parenting in the voice of her daughter, on her blog www.actuallymummy.co.uk You can find more of her money saving tips on Radio Verulam’s West Herts Drivetime Blog.