As a family, we’ve been through some really tough times financially. We’re through them now (I hope) but when money was tight, I learnt to budget and I still do the same things now. You never know what’s around the corner, particularly at the moment. We are still in the midst of a global pandemic and businesses are struggling more than ever before. This means that many of us have less job security and therefore we need to be particularly careful with our money. There are a few things I do regularly to ensure that our finances stay under control.
1. Meal Plan
Meal planning is really, really important and it makes a huge difference to your finances. If you’ve ever headed out grocery shopping without a list then you’ll know this is a recipe for overspending.
Sit down once a week and write a meal plan – write out the meals you will prepare for each day of the week. Once you’ve decided on your meals, you can then write a shopping list to take with you. Stick to your list rigidly and don’t be tempted by offers you see at the end of the aisles!
2. Know your budget
It always amazes me how many people just don’t know how much money they’ve got free each month. Do you know how much money you need to have in your account just to cover your bills? If you don’t, then it’s impossible for you to know how much spending money you have left over!
Sit down and go through all of your accounts. I use a spreadsheet to keep track of monthly bills so that I always know how much I need to have in my bank account to cover them.
Don’t be tempted to overspend just to keep the kids busy – there are plenty of free activities you can do that they will enjoy just as much!
3. Use a budgeting tool
If you’re new to budgeting, then a budgeting tool is a really great idea. There are lots of free to use tools available online. Be really thorough with the figures you put in. If you have quarterly bills then be sure to work out how much these are per month so that you’re not caught out when one falls due.
4. Shop second hand
I love finding bargains in charity shops, particularly when it comes to children’s clothes. The kids are never in their clothes for long before they outgrow them so I see no need to spend a fortune on brand new items.
I also like to find bargains online too, Facebook is a great place to find free or cheap second hand clothes and toys that still have lots of life left in them.
5. Batch cook
Batch cooking is when you cook a whole lot of meals in one go and then store them ready to use at a later date. It is a great way to save money and it’s also perfect for busy school nights when you don’t have much time to prepare a healthy family meal.
Budgeting and being careful with your money really doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated. Just a little forward planning and thinking carefully about what you spend will make a huge difference to your family’s finances.