I’ve always spent time with the kids making sure they salt a few pennies away for when they’re older, and I think it’s something that we do tend to do when we have kids. My kids have their wee bank accounts that we opened 7 years ago and they put half of any birthday and Christmas money they receive into it to hopefully make them a bit sensible with money.
I try to get my kids to see the value in things and to live as frugally as we can. I don’t think it is sensible to waste money, nor to let our kids think that money is so easy to get, it doesn’t actually mean anything. I’m not advocating living in a shoe box and going back to nature with vegetable plots and chickens in the garden (though I would dearly love to have chickens in the garden.)
Here are my top 5 tips for being sensible and not wasting money.
1. Look At Your Shopping Trolley & Take OUT What You Don’t NEED
Living frugally starts with shopping. As a family, when we go out with the kids, I tend to find myself at the checkout with lots of things in the trolley that I didn’t put there. It may be wishful thinking on the part of the kids, but I’ve now got into the habit of checking my trolley every aisle to see what we don’t actually need. I do often find myself getting to the checkout and almost scared at what the bill will be, but I am much better at actually saying no, I don’t want something after all and putting it back. I don’t do it with fridge or freezer stuff, but clothes, household stuff and the kids drop-ins are great for excluding at the checkout.
2. Shopping Again – Bulk Packs And Freebies Don’t Always Add Up To Savings
We get vouchers through from our supermarkets, but do we really need or want what they’re for. A jumbo roll of toilet rolls may look a snip at £2 off, but if that brand is £3 dearer than the one you usually buy, what’s the point. If the voucher is for something you need, go for it, but otherwise, let it go. Similarly, the special “deals” for multi packs can sometimes be more expensive than the items bought individually. Look at the amount of product you get with the special deal and work out the actual cost to you. I never used to do this, and I’ve found huge savings by being a bit more vigilant about what I put into my trolley.
3. Do We Need Throwaway Goods?
This is the hardest one for us as we struggle with buying light. There are 6 of us and 4 animals at home, and we do need to make an effort to actually use less packaging, products and recycling. In the caravan, I used to use paper plates for ease, but replaced those with cheap plastic ones we can wash. We no longer use paper towels often in the kitchen and I keep plenty old dish cloths in reserve that can all go in the washing machine with the regular cloths. I’ve not found a replacement for toilet paper, but if there was one, I’d be happy to get rid of the rolls and rolls of the stuff we go through.
4. Set A Budget For A Month And Stick To It
I tried this in December and I found it really difficult to do, but it was a start on the money-saving exercises I am determined to get on top of. I set us a budget per week for clothes, incidentals and entertainment. Christmas was on a separate budget so not included in the lists. The kids had no budget of their own and had to get anything they wanted out of the family one. I found that we all had to sit back and really ask ourselves if we really wanted what we were looking for in the shops and online. We decided to sit on something for a few days if we thought we wanted it. The boys wanted a comic, but we agreed to sit on it, and after a few days, they were glad they hadn’t, as there wouldn’t have been enough left in the budget to go to McDonald’s. It was tough, and I’d hate to be so strict all the time, but it was a good experience.
5. Making Our Money Work For Us
Although I’ve set up accounts for the kids, as a family, we’ve not really done our bit in making sure we get the most out of what we’re entitled to. My bank is the Halifax and browsing through my accounts last week, I saw a cash isa from Halifax option in my list. I decided to take a peek and see what it was all about as I’ve never actually been too sure about how an ISA works, or even if we should have one. I’ve always known it’s a tax-free account and my mother has often told me that we are losing out by not having one. I was happy to see that one can be started with just £1, so it is well within our budget to actually contribute. It’s always nice to have something that helps us say no to the tax man and it’s certainly made me decide to take my money more seriously.