Finances and family life
Having a family is expensive there is no doubt about it. We know when we start our parenting journey about the big things we will have to spend money on like: a cot; a car seat; a pushchair; high chair and so on.
As your family expands you know that you will perhaps need to consider a bigger house, bigger car and that there may be significant childcare costs to tackle as well, depending on your situation.
As well as these large expenses, we also know about the smaller things that over a couple of years you can spend a huge amount of money on; like nappies, baby wipes and children’s shoes.
The bit we don’t prepare for
I think the bit we aren’t prepared for as parents is how much money can be spent on ‘other’ things. Those things that are just part of family life but that you don’t really plan for.
The trip to the playbarn, the farm park, ice creams, professional photographs, school trips, that family trip to the zoo, the odd McDonalds maybe or those fairground rides. Your random cups of tea or coffee, or whatever your hot sanity-saving drink of choice is, that you pick up when out and about; snacks when you’ve forgotten to pack any; or those bottles of water when you forget them. Hair cuts, magazines, the extra things that get put in the trolley when you are shopping with children, and even car parking.
Planning to save
All of this spending is of course in addition to clothes, school uniform, holidays and all the other bits and bobs that come along.
It’s endless and relentless at times, especially when lots of expenses come together. You know that your car is going to need new tyres the same month as you need to buy all the children new shoes and pay for the washing machine to be fixed – you know because, that is just how life is sometimes.
Of course, this is all before you’ve actually saved anything for their futures, which, let’s face it, is getting more costly by the day.
We can all make savings though. We just sometimes need to stop and reflect on our spending and identify where small cuts might make big wins in the long run.
How to save
Why not spend a week writing down everything you spend your money on and see where you can make some savings?
One of the most common goals for parents throughout the year is to find ways to cut costs and save money. Whether you want to save for a new bag, holiday or a mortgage, it can be quite overwhelming to start, especially when you have a family and home to look after.
However, with small changes we can all see our savings grow with some conscious smarter spending tweaks. Here is an example. If over a week I spend £15 on ice creams; £3.50 on slush drinks; £4.50 on a few green teas, £2 on the rides in the leisure centre reception, £1 on a bottle of water after I forgot to pop one in my daughter’s swimming bag and £17.50 on a Starbucks treat for everyone, how much unnecessary spending has there been?
I could have added ice creams to my shopping list, made slush at home, enjoyed my green tea at home, or taken a flask of tea out with me. I could have bought squirty cream and marshmallows and given everyone hot chocolate with toppings at home. I could have done all of this and saved myself about £40 in a week.
That £40 could have been divided equally between the four children and paid into a savings account, like the ones with Scottish Friendly.
Now clearly I’m not spending £40 the same way each week, but this is a good illustration of how saving money can be easier than you think. I’m not saying we shouldn’t have treats, but stocking the freezer with ice creams from the supermarket is a way of saving a huge amount of money over the holidays and taking a flask with a hot drink in when you are out and about can also make a massive difference.
Of course we want to treat our families and have days out and do lovely things, but saving money on the things that are the same anywhere but cost more elsewhere can mean you can still save whilst having fun. Why pay £1.50 for a Fruit Shoot at the zoo when you can pick up four Fruit Shoots for £1 in your local supermarket or bargain store? Why pay £2 for a bottle of water at the local leisure centre when you can fill up plastic drinks bottles at home?
We pay for convenience and venues cash in on the fact that us parents have been too busy to be organised and plan in advance – I get that and there are days when I pay for that too. There will always be those days.
Why not have a go at recording all those ‘extra’ things you spend bits of money on over a week. Let us know what you think you could cut out and save money on. It’s a really good exercise.