Wednesday 18 October 2017

5 Money Saving Tips

It’s that time of year again, with Christmas looming and plenty of wet weekends to fill, suddenly money doesn’t seem to stretch quite as far as it did in the summer. The end of the year is always the most expensive for me, especially when you factor in household bills and activities to keep the kids entertained. Plus, it’s around this time of year when things start to break. Either the boiler won’t switch on (thankfully not this year) or the guttering is doing a terrible job of keeping rain away from the house (again, not this year). The washing machine did break last month, but we managed to replace that quickly without too much stress.

We have savings we can dip into when we need to, which means we were able to buy as new washing machine without taking out a short-term loan. I think if you have a little bit of money saved for emergencies, it can take some of the stress out of those unforeseen financial expenses that crop up when you least expect them.

I thought I’d share a few of the ways I’ve been trying to reduce my expenditure recently:

1. Meal plan
I spend an absolute fortune on food when I haven’t had the time (or inclination) to sit down and plan out exactly what we’re going to eat. It means I end up popping to the overpriced local shop every day instead of doing a big weekly shop. This month, I’ve been planning out our meals so that I can do a big shop and make sure we have everything we need. Shopping online also means you can take better control of your budget because there are no surprises at the checkout (why oh why do I always succumb to impulse buys).

2. Switched my phone contract
We usually shop around when it comes to household bills, and check every year that we’re still getting a good deal. For some reason, I’d never applied this logic to my phone contract. Last year, I switched from one of the big names to Giff Gaff and I can’t recommend them enough. It’s not a contract, it’s cheaper and I get really good service. It only costs me £10 a month and I get plenty of data, messages and minutes.

3. Enjoy free days out
This is way easier to do in the summer, but it is possible in the colder months, too. It might not be the weather for picnics, but we’ve still been spending plenty of time exploring outdoors. I love going for big family walks so we try to factor that in when we can at the weekend. We also visit museums and other places where we can explore for free and keep the kids entertained for a bit.

4. Choose my toddler groups carefully
When Ebony was born, I spent a small fortune on baby groups. I went for the all-singing all-dancing groups that cost an arm and a leg (and they make you do the singing and dancing so it’s actually quite terrible). This time, I’ve been more careful about where I spend my money. We’ve been visiting the local community and church-run groups instead. They’re way cheaper, they usually last longer and Ember has a great time so there’s really no need to spend the extra £5 a session.

5. Buy second-hand
I love going to the charity shops to look for books, clothes and toys for the girls. You can find some real bargains if you know where to look. I’ve already got a stash of second-hand things for their Christmas presents. It makes Christmas much more affordable and I don’t have to feel so guilty about all the stuff they end up with. I also tend to look on eBay for second-hand clothes and presents.

This is a collaborative post.

Photo by Fabian Blank on Unsplash

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