As a Mum of three budgeting is absolute necessary. There is so much that I want to do with my family, go on many adventures, let them embrace their hobbies, have birthday parties and spoil them at Christmas. Whilst there are months that money is a little tighter that others, we find that if we budget then we can achieve all of the above without much stress. It really is about having a budget and sticking to it. Here is how I manage to stick to a budget whilst still enjoying life.
Consolidate any debts.
I found that the first thing you need to do is to work out all of your debts and then consolidate them. They you have just one amount leaving your account at the same time every month allowing you to fully understand what money you have left to spend. It may even work out that you save money on your annual interest you pay with a lower interest rate. (Click here to find out how you can consolidate your debt)
Install your bank app on your phone.
Last year I opened a Monzo account on my phone and it has been a game changer for sticking to a budget. I can see how much money I have available to spend at the touch of a button. It ensure that I never go overdrawn. Also it enables me to open ‘pots’ so if I am trying to save a little extra for Christmas then I can open a Christmas savings pot and easily transfer money.
Go through Statements
Print out all of your statements and have a look at what you are spending your money on. This can help you spend differently. When I did this I was surprised to find that I spent so much in supermarkets on food. I would pop to the shop for a loaf and end up spending around £18 per visit. This was every day as well as a weekly food shop. Now I try to be more realistic with my big weekly food shop and limit my little trips to the shop. I try to limit my visits to the food shops to just a couple of times a week. This has saved me so much money.
As boring as it sounds I have a spreadsheet for each month that is filled with birthdays or special events. This allows me to see what extra spends that are required that month. For example, September is a busy month for us. I have my daughter’s birthday as well as 3 other family members birthdays. It also marks the return to school for my three children so new uniforms and shoes are all needed. The spreadsheet reminds me that at least the month before I need to be spending less in order to accommodate these extra expenses in September. This makes me feel more in control and prevents me from forgetting about these extra costs and panicking, resulting in me using high interest credit cards.
Think Outside the Box.
Keeping to a budget is not about being boring or missing out on lots of things. We as a family don’t miss out on anything. It is about thinking how you can save little amounts here and there. It is sometimes about thinking outside of the box. For example, taking 3 kids to soft play can be expensive. So whilst we still go I make sure we go after lunch time so I don’t have t buy any pricey food. I take their water bottles so I don’t have to buy drinks. I always have fruit or biscuits in my bag if they need to have a snack.
Whenever we go somewhere I check that there are no discount vouchers available online. I check that free parking is available. The same goes for shopping. I try to be cleverer with my shopping. I write weekly meal plans. I ensure that ingredients that I am buying, I can use again later in the week for another meal. It is all about being a little more organised.
Look at the bigger picture.
I always remember my work colleague bringing sandwiches from home for her lunch every day. I remember asking her if she ever likes to buy her lunch for a change.She replied with ‘No, I would rather make my sandwich every day and go abroad every year – I can’t afford to do both’. This has forever stayed with me. I would rather take a few snacks in my bag than spend £20 in a cafe for overpriced drinks and cake. Putting the money in a holiday fund. Of course sometimes you need a little treat or pick me up but always try to remember the bigger picture.