Every time I write about how to save money and cut costs I am amazed at how much information is out there, and how genius some people are. Today I have a wealth of fabulous tips for you that I’ve gleaned from professionals, other parents, websites and books. Hopefully some of these will resonate with you and your family, and help turn your budget around.
1. Don’t take it with you
Seriously, leave your money at home. If you’re going to the park or for a walk, or just to pick your tots up from nursery or school, just leave your handbag (bank card, wallet) at home. That way you can’t be tempted by yummy coffees, a pair of shoes and a tasty sale.
2. Turn stuff off
This one is especially true for the upcoming winter months when everything is dark all day. Instead of leaving the lights on in the kitchen or bathroom, turn them off as you go. Not only will you save on the electricity pennies, but you’ll save the planet at the same time.
3. Make things with rubbish
Oh yes, this is a favourite of mine. Don’t buy expensive toys and bits of tat. Just buy cheap paint and glue from places like Poundland, use old wrapping paper and yoghurt cups, and invent magical things with your kids. It’s a great way to recycle your rubbish AND get them to be imaginative and creative.
4. Knit with rubbish!
While we’re on the rubbish theme, have you considered using your old plastic packets as a type of yarn? Go here, read the instructions, and create awesome storage units and household items with old plastic bags. Learn to crochet or knit here.
5. Water it down
Ohhh, this is sneaky and, whenever I do it, I feel like one of those naughty restaurants. When you get juice for your kids, spread it further by mixing it half and half with water. They won’t notice and it will last far longer (and cause less damage to teeth!).
6. Cook your own
I know this is faintly depressing as there is nothing as yummy as a hot coffee and a muffin from Café Nero, but make your own pack lunches, cook everything at home, and take it with you. You will be astounded at how much you can save.
7. Learn for free
Let’s say you’re like me, a terrible cook, then the point above probably makes you glare at the screen. Well, how about learning how to cook using YouTube videos? There are loads of them. You can judge their efficiency by the comments posted on them. This is also a fabulous way to learn how to knit, do woodworking, build a bed and more.
8. Avoid the hype
Special baby towels, special baby this and special baby that. Most of it is a load of marketing hype designed to ease that money gently out of your wallet. Instead do some research on what is absolutely essential (ask your midwife!) and use your normal stuff for the rest. You really don’t need a special baby towel.
9. Coupons, vouchers and codes
Seriously, you should not be living without these anymore. Online, in magazines, here on PlayPennies, in Google – these are everywhere. Just before you buy something, check and see if there is a code or voucher that will save you money on delivery or the overall price.
10. Family albums
Photo prints are expensive but if you are clever you can get them done for free, or at substantial discounts. Virgin customers (see t’s & c’s, obviously) get a set number of free prints a month, Photobox offer free prints and more. Choose your favourites, get them done for free, save money.
11. Your brand awareness
If you have a particular brand that you’re partial to (for your wipes or nappies or formula, for example), then go to the manufacturer’s website and join their online mailing schemes/programmes/newsletters. They tend to send out discount vouchers and special offers on a random basis and this will help cut costs.
12. Become a sale hunter
It sounds sad but is actually quite addictive. Follow the sales around the stores and you may never buy anything full price again. It’s a good way to stock up on baby essentials without breaking the bank.
13. Look at the shelf below
The old supermarket trick of plonking a 3 for 2 on the expensive nappies may look cheap but, if you scan two shelves down, you’ll often find other brands that will cost a fraction of the price for the same amount.
14. Scour your bank statements
Sorry, there really is no way of getting round this. Read them, analyse them, add up those “little” costs and work out exactly what’s being spent on unnecessary items or extras. You’ll be amazed at how quickly that £5 here or that £7 there adds up in a week, and you’ll kick yourself because that money, after a few months, could have bought you a holiday!
15. High interest savings
Work out exactly what you’ve saved by following tips like these, take that money and put it into a high interest savings account. Also consider budgeting for a set amount to automatically debit into that account each month. This is your rainy day savings and one day you will be eternally grateful.