From the outside, it must appear as if we are pretty well off. Hey we can afford for me to be a SAHM so surely we must have enough cash. The truth is, we work hard to live frugally in some aspects of our life so we can be more frivolous in others. Stu’s salary doesn’t cover our outgoings and so with a combination of savings and a helping hand from family, we have a finite amount of money that is not being replenished. When the pot gets too low, I’ll have to go back to work. If that isn’t motivation to be thrifty, I don’t know what is.
I’d like to think if you scrolled my Instagram, you’d think we all look pretty well dressed. In no way are our girls disadvantaged by our careful spending. We have just learnt to watch the wallet and found ways to minimise outgoings. Here are some of the ways we spend less in our day to day life.
Ditch supermarket superstores
As tempting and convenient as it can be to have a huge grocery delivery, shopping in smaller supermarkets has definitely made one of the biggest impacts on our savings. I’m a total Aldi fan. The cheap fresh produce, good quality meat and smaller selection mean we spend between £30-60 a week. I just know if we were to head to one of the bigger stores, I’d be convinced to buy much more than we needed and likely on unhealthy stuff too. Those huge superstores also have masses of other goodies like clothes and candles that would fall into my trolley each week racking up the bill unnecessarily.
Buy second hand
We buy a lot of second hand clothes. I just love to get a bargain and so when I spot a practically unworn Next dress for £1, I get a little giddy. Mostly this is for the girls as I really don’t buy many clothes for myself. I’d like to think I only buy items for myself when I haven’t got something similar. But if it’s very cheap, I see it as a treat and it satisfies a certain shopping craving. EBay, carboots and charity shops are my favourite as you can pick up individual bits but Facebook selling sites also offer bundles dirt cheap and are great for essentials.
Shop around for everything
From car insurance to energy, car seats to furniture we always shop around and check we are on the best deals. It is a hassle to compare utilities and is time I’d rather spend binging a boxset but it can be really fruitful. Honestly, if I’m only going to save fifty quid, I probably wouldn’t bother as often switching can be a real pain but anything higher and I’m definitely moving on. If we need or want something expensive and it’s not urgent (like a washing machine for example) we will keep an eye on selling sites and just wait it out. Almost always what we want comes up. Failing that, we wait for the sales.
This might seem obvious but when you have twins or even just two children who are constantly growing, it is pretty ridiculous to spend a fortune on items that will only last the season. Think about what you dress them in regularly and what type of footwear they are going to need and just buy that. I’ve worked out my girls only need about 12 outfits. Because they mostly wear dresses and tights, maybe I’ll get 6-8 then buy some jeans, a couple of skirts and a few tops. They have got wellies and shoes that still fit but I will gets some boots too. That’s it. No more.
Use Birthdays and Xmas
Some might think this is really mean but I don’t. My girls’ birthday is coming up and they need new pyjamas. One of their gifts will be pyjamas. We are actually contemplating buying car seats as gifts. Before you shoot me down for being the tightest parent ever, bare in mind they are still rear facing at 3. The prospect of turning would probably be the best birthday gift ever. For Xmas we also really limit gifts. They get so many from family and I just don want an overwhelming stack of gifts to be the only focus of Christmas. There will be a stocking from Santa, a few gifts from a Mummy and Daddy and a budget of less than £50 each. They will be three and couldn’t care less how much is spent.
Ask for experiences rather than possessions
Following on, instead of overloading our girls with lots of plastic rubbish, it’s great to get experiences or passes. These can be enjoyed for much longer than the day. This year my parents have bought us Peppa Pig theatre tickets for Xmas which the girls will lose their little minds over. This was something that we wouldn’t have bought as I thought the £60 price tag was too steep. However, I know it will be a fantastic day that’s the girls will remember.
Take advantage of trials
Lots of toddler groups offer free trial sessions to see if you like the group. These are great to get an idea of what your little one gets on with and enjoys and what just doesn’t fit. I’ve done quite a few trials. Some of which I’ve then signed up to a block of and others which I haven’t. You might find a new group you love or it might just be a chance to get out the house. Sometimes I even when I’ve really liked a group, I just couldn’t justify the cost especially when you are required to bulk buy sessions.
Select one premium group per term
After doing lots of trials and listening to lots of ideas from other mums, I just book onto one premium group per term. This term we are trying forest school which is an absolute bargain as the lady offers the second twin free! The rest of our week is filled with local play groups, the library and sometimes a gym session or swimming with Nannie. I’ve come to terms with the fact we can’t afford to do lots of the expensive groups. Maybe later in the year we’ll have a swap around and try something new.
Avoid food waste by meal planning
In our kitchen, we have a chalk board where we write our weekly meals. Now I know this isn’t for everyone but maybe it’s something to try if you find yourself binning a lot of food or spending too much time wondering what to cook for dinner. Each week we choose the meals we will have and buy the ingredients for each meal. We can use up anything we’ve got left over or frozen and plan around events in the week. Often we’ll have a chicken meal, a pasta meal, something with rice, something quick like pizza, a pie and a roast. Maybe it’s a bit boring but you don’t have to stick to it rigidly. As long as you check the use by dates you can swap meals around as stuff crops up.
Finally, if at all possible, avoid buying anything on finance or credit cards that are not paid off in full each month. We have a credit card and use it a lot more than we used to as we get cash back on purchases. Our Santander 123 account gives us money back on petrol, utilities, council tax and loads of other things. It’s free money and so it’s why we use our credit card more than our debit. If you need/want a new sofa. Save for it. Every time you buy something on credit, it chips away at your monthly income before you even see it. This is probably one of the biggest reason we can afford for me to continue to stay at home. When the money comes in, only the essentials go out. There are no bills for clothes, cars, holidays or TV packages.
How do you keep family costs down?
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If you want more ways to help with budgeting, check out Frugal Financial Freedom for five more tips.
44 thoughts on “Family budgeting: How to make your money go further”
You sound so like me! I stay at home while my partner works however that doesn’t mean we have endless amounts of money, its just means we have to be careful with money and things like holidays have had to missed for the last 4years! We go to Aldi to shop more often than not as i can easily spend around £15 more at my usual Tesco and there isn’t much difference in food taste! Mia has everything she wants and needs and we just save up for things we need/want! It works for us! 🙂
It’s about choosing what is most important. For me, if we have to cut back so I can stay at home, that’s what we’ll do and it’ll be totally worth it.
This article speaks to me! We are very similar in our outlook and have been reducing our costs since we found out I was pregnant last October. We have done it slowly but are now in a place where, living frugally, we are comfortable. Great advice!
We’ve been thrifty for so long, it no longer feels like I’m missing anything. That’s just how we spend.
Some brilliant tips here ! #thelistlinky
These are great tips! I love a bit of bargain hunting and I always shop around for everything. The pennies take a lot of earning so it’s good to look after them! Thanks so much for sharing with #Blogstravaganza xx
Absolutely. Let’s not waste what has been worked so hard for.
I spend ages comparing prices to shop around for the best deals but it makes a big difference to spending #thelistlinky
It is satisfying when you know you’ve saved money though
It was a bit of a shock to the system when I gave up my very well paid job 18 months ago to work part time. We have struggled to control what we spend having been so used to being able to pretty much buy whatever we wanted. I shop at Aldi although I have found it’s not quite a cheap as it used to be! Our biggest spend is clubs, lessons and activities for the children and I find it very difficult to justify cancelling these as they are the reason I gave up my job…so the children could be involved in more things after school. Oh well, all we need is a lottery win and everything will be great! Thanks for linking up with #blogstravaganza
I guess it must be hard when your children are used to certain groups but maybe when you finish a term with one you could replace it with a cheaper option. I pretty sure they wouldnt even notice.
Great tips. It sounds like you have it sussed! #anythinggoes
Really good tips. We have twins too and they are always growing out of things! I hate paying full price for anything and shop around a lot. We’re lucky to have a Lidl round the corner which helps. #triumphanttales
I’m so grateful for the budget supermarkets and they seem to have lost the stigma they once had. Now everyone loves a bargain.
Completely agree with a lot of these! We buy second hand a lot of the time and I am constantly searching for deals online for anything we need. I never buy full priced items and only ever buy with vouchers or promo codes. I also use birthdays and christmas as a time to get them stuff that they need – I’ll just accommodate it to what they like (e.g my youngest needs pyjamas, so I will buy him ones with lightning mcqueen on). The only thing we do is shop at big supermarkets and it’s purely because my youngest has a dairy allergy and Tesco is really good for free from food! #blogstravaganza
My sister is celiac so I totally get why you need to shop in big stores. Just have to close your eyes as you pass all the cute clothes and scented candles 😝
These are fantastic tips – even if you’re not actively trying to save it makes sense to spend less money on the same thing! I always have a weekly meal plan because I hate getting to tea time and not having a clue what to make
Thanks for linking up to #AnythingGoes 🙂
I know what you mean. It’s drive me crazy having to think of meals every day.
Popping back! Thanks for sharing this at #TriumphantTales. Hope to see you again on Tuesday.