Children are expensive. Between feeding them, clothing them, educating them and entertaining them it all soon adds up. I think the best way to avoid financial stress is to set a family budget and stick to it. That way you always know how much money is going out every month and therefore what’s left to pay for everything else.
Budgeting means a lot less worrying. It also means less nasty surprises because a sensible budget includes saving to pay for unexpected things like a broken washing machine, or other unexpected expense. I’m well aware though that for some families there isn’t enough to pay for the essentials. Even so setting a budget lets you know exactly what your financial situation is, which is always good to know.
To set a family budget you need to first work out all your essential monthly outgoings like mortgage payments and regular bills, write a list (oh how I love writing lists.) Next work out your monthly income, including wages and benefits like tax credits and child benefit.
Then you can see what’s left over each month and set allowances for things like clothing, food shopping and entertainment. I use an app on my phone (called expense) with these allowances, and then I record all my spending and am fully aware of how much I have available at all times.
Legal and General have written an article about budgeting techniques so for more information check that out here.
Ways to save money:
Clothing: Make sure you’re not overbuying, make a list of the essentials needed each season and stick to it. Let people with older children know that you welcome hand me downs, they can save a fortune. Check out eBay and charity shops for preloved bargains.
Food: Cooking from scratch saves lots of money. Build in time to bake and cut down the cost of after school snacks and packed lunches significantly. Meal plan, and work from a shopping list based on the meal plan.
Entertainment: There are lots of very cheap or even free ways to have fun. We often go for walks, or visit local playgrounds. Art galleries, and museums are often donation only. Make the most of what you have at home, and don’t feel that you have to fill every minute, staying at home costs nothing. If you are planning to visit somewhere or eating out make sure to check online to see if there are any discount codes available.
Whatever your family budget try to remember that money doesn’t a good parent make. Making the best of what you have, and having fun together as a family is far more important than giving your children branded clothing and the latest gadgets. Happy budgeting!
Disclaimer: I have been compensated for writing this post and sharing the legal and general budgeting ideas article.