Running a household and raising children are expensive. Most people would like to have more disposable income. While it may not be possible to boost earnings, there are lots of ways to lower expenses and outgoings. In this guide, we’ll explore some easy ways you could save a small fortune at home.
The first step to take when you’re on a mission to improve your financial situation is to draw up a monthly budget. Budgeting offers an array of benefits. With a budget, you can calculate how much disposable income you have and you can see exactly where your money is going each month. To create a budget, all you need to do is use an app, a spreadsheet or a notepad and add your income, your regular outgoings and one-off expenses you need to cover in the month ahead. Go through your bank statements and make sure you include all your standing orders and direct debits.
Once you have the figures in front of you, look for areas where you could make cutbacks. Many of us sign up for promotions and subscriptions, for example, and then forget all about them. If you have memberships or subscriptions you never use, cancel them. You can also highlight bills that are too high. If you’re spending too much on groceries or eating out, set yourself a new budget for next month. If you regularly spend over £100 per week on food, try to bring the total down to £80, for example.
SAVING ON SHOPPING
We all need to buy things but most of us like to treat ourselves to items we don’t really need or even want. If you’re trying to save money and boost your balance, it’s an excellent idea to look for ways to save on shopping and to try and adjust your mindset. Set limits for food shopping, clothes and non-essential items and ask yourself if you really want items before you add them to your basket or trolley and complete the payment. When you go to the supermarket, always make a list in advance. Plan a menu, write down the ingredients you need and try to steer clear of offers and deals on items that aren’t on the list. If you get carried away or you’re prone to falling into marketing traps, it can be useful to shop online. When you shop online, it’s easier to resist temptation and you can also see a running total as you add each item to your order. You can also save by bulk buying essentials and comparing prices for items like baby products, pet food and cleaning products.
Another excellent idea to save on shopping for your family is by signing up to discount sites and subscribing to mailing lists. If you see items you like, look for active codes and vouchers online or wait until you receive an email with a deal inside. You can also use the Internet to compare prices on everything from electrical appliances to branded clothing.
FAMILY FINANCES – COUPONS AND VOUCHERS
Coupons and vouchers can save you a fortune when you go shopping or you make plans for the school holidays or weekends. Today, you can use codes or collect vouchers to spend on everything from meals and trips to the cinema to days out at theme parks and hotel stays. If you’re keen to treat the kids without blowing the budget, register with voucher sites, keep an eye out for deals and offers on social media and take advantage of discounts and promotions like 2 for 1 tickets or free nights for children. If you subscribe to websites that promote offers, you’ll get regular emails with active discount codes and access to freebies and sales. It’s also a great idea to use the Internet to search for free events and attractions in your local area and to join community groups on social media to hear about festivals, school holiday camps and fun educational activities.
PHONE, TV AND BROADBAND
We are increasingly reliant on technology. Most of us are glued to our phones, we use broadband at home and we have hundreds of TV channels and streaming services at our disposal. For many of us, phones, TV packages and Internet access are essential but if you’re on a budget, you may be looking to try and lower costs. If you’re paying too much for your phone, or you’ve been with the same TV and broadband provider for as long as you can remember, it may be worth comparing prices and looking at other options. Look for deals on phone contracts and offers that will save you money when you recommend a friend and use the Internet to compare deals if your broadband contract is coming to an end. Sometimes, new customers are entitled to offers and incentives that aren’t available to existing clients and you might be able to save by changing to a different company. You could also consider adjusting your package to lower the monthly fee. If you have the movie or sports channels and you never use them, for example, opting for a more basic package may be beneficial.
Customer loyalty should be a priority for businesses and service providers. If you shop in the same stores or you use the same websites all the time, sign up for rewards schemes and initiatives that encourage customer loyalty. You may be able to save when you make a certain number of purchases or gain access to sales or discounts before others, for example. Examples include supermarket points cards and cards you can use at cafes and coffee shops. If you collect points when you buy groceries, for example, you may be able to use them to take money off your shopping bill. If you buy a coffee most mornings, you might be able to get a free drink on the tenth visit. Every little helps.
FAMILY FINANCES – SAVING ON TRAVEL
The summer is just around the corner and many families will be looking forward to getting away. Whether you’re jetting off to an exotic location or planning a trip closer to home, there are steps you can take to lower the cost. Firstly, always check prices on flights, train tickets, bus journeys and accommodation before you book. You can use the Internet to search for the best deals within seconds. If you are booking flights, you can usually save a substantial amount of money by being flexible with dates and times. It’s also worth considering booking a package holiday, as they are often better value. If hotels are too expensive in your chosen location, search for cheaper options, such as campsites, low-cost resorts and apartments, villas or houses you can hire. If you’re going away with friends or family, it’s often much cheaper to split the cost of a larger property than to book several hotel rooms or apartments. Staying just outside the centre of the city and avoiding hotels next to tourist attractions can also bring costs down.
When you’re planning your itinerary, look for ways to reduce the cost of sightseeing, excursions and getting around. If you’re considering a city break, for example, you can save by walking and using public transport or hiring bikes if you have older children or you’re travelling with friends. It’s also an excellent idea to book tickets for attractions online to save on admission fees and to compare bundles and packages, which may cover multiple locations. Many cities offer free access to museums and galleries or discounts for children, families, students and senior citizens.
SAVING MONEY ON UTILITIES
How much money do you spend per month on electricity, gas, and water? Many homeowners dread the arrival of their monthly energy bills, especially in the winter. If you are trying to save money, it’s beneficial to try and reduce energy consumption and to make sure that you’re getting the best deals from your providers. You can compare prices online to see if it makes sense to change to a different company and you can take steps at home to use less energy. These include installing a smart meter, insulating your home to improve heat retention, turning lights off and switching appliances off at the socket and replacing old boilers and appliances with new, energy-efficient alternatives. Turn the taps off when you’re washing up or cleaning your teeth and take short showers. You can also collect rainwater to water your garden and wash your car and swap traditional light bulbs for LED lights to maximise efficiency.
Most people would like to have a bit more cash left over at the end of the month. It’s not always possible to increase your earnings but monitoring spending and reducing expenses can help to widen the margins. If you can save on buying groceries, make sure you’re getting the best deals on mobile phone contracts, broadband and TV and utilities, take advantage of offers and discounts on shopping, travel and days out and set limits using a budget, you could save a small fortune. Draw up a monthly budget, analyse your spending habits and compare prices before you buy.