I’ve read that it can cost up to £200,000 to raise a child from birth to twenty-one. It’s a wonder that any of us manage to do it, nor is it surprising that however much money you’ve got coming in, there never seems to be quite enough for all the things you need. It’s easy to waste money without realising and it’s easy to underestimate how much you could save with just a little more care so, here are my top tips to help that hard-earned money stretch just a little further.
- Set yourself a budget. The first step to taking control of your expenditure is knowing exactly where it all goes. Create an excel spreadsheet or use a budgeting app so that you can map your spending and see where savings can be made.
- Use a purchase credit card. These are credit cards which offer 0% interest if you pay back within a set period. This could be anything from one month to two years or more. Purchase credit cards can be useful when you need to make a large purchase that can’t wait until payday because when used correctly they can be cheaper than taking out a loan. Find the card that is right for you by using a comparison website.
- Start saving for your children’s education. There are lots of hidden costs involved in sending your children to school: transport, uniform, sports equipment, trips and as for university, who knows what that will cost by the time they’re old enough. It makes sense to prepare in advance by putting something away each month, as soon as they are born. It may not be enough to cover all the cost, but it will certainly help. It’s also worth looking at a junior ISA to help with potential costs such as a house deposit, a car or a wedding. They work just like an ordinary savings account, where you get paid interest either every month or every year. The only differences are that you can’t take any money out until the child turns 18 and you won’t have to pay any tax on the interest.
- Take advantage of family discounts. ‘It’s amazing what you can find online’, has become my mantra, but if you don’t check out online discounts you really are missing out. Restaurants and theme parks offer some great family discounts, you just have to take the time to look for them.
- Thrifty habits help. Energy is expensive and it’s almost certainly going to get more expensive, so get into good habits and stop wasting it. Turn off lights when you’re not in the room, switch to energy saving LED lights. Think about whether you really need to use that electric appliance and don’t leave it plugged in with that little red light burning your money. Run your washing machine at night to take advantage of the cheaper rate. Remember that you pay for the water you use: that means fewer baths, more showers and don’t let the kids leave the taps running when they’re cleaning their teeth. These may seem like little things but it all adds up.
- Don’t waste money on food. You can feed your family healthy food and still save money. Oven time costs money, so cook food in batches. Bulk buy when the deals are on and store in your freezer, remember a freezer is most efficient when it’s full. Don’t send your children to school with pre-made sandwiches in environmentally unfriendly packaging, take the time to make your own, they’ll be much healthier as well.