This is a collaborative post.
Whether you’ve just had a new arrival in your family, you’re planning for a baby, or you simply need a little help with making ends meet, it’s important to have a budget that you can rely on. Budgeting might not be the most fun a family can have together, but it’s a crucial part of ensuring that your finances are safe and healthy.
Start by tracking your family’s income, including everything from your wages to any benefits you might be entitled to, then write down all of your regular and irregular expenses too. If it helps, gather all the bank statements, pay stubs and invoices you’ve collected over the last month, and use them to create an in-depth insight into your financial situation. From there, you’ll be able to create a budget that works for your family. With your incoming and outgoing costs in mind, use the following tips to keep your budget on track.
1. Plan Your Weekly Meals
Even if you’re generally quite good with your money, we can all struggle with cash when we’re tempted by an impromptu take-away or a trip to the drive-thru instead of your planned dinner. If you’re trying to keep costs low, then it’s important to make sure that you don’t over-spend on food that’s not only expensive but not exactly good for you either.
To avoid splurging on calories and food, take the time to plan your meals for the week in advance, then buy only the ingredients you’ll need for those meals. This will help to eliminate the excuse of not knowing what’s for dinner. You could even plan meals that use up extra ingredients that you have in the fridge so that you’re wasting as little as possible.
2. Invest in Items you Can Re-Use
Most disposable items are pretty cheap and convenient. However, if you’re buying the same item over and over again, you can end up spending a lot of money in the long-term. For instance, if you’re constantly spending cash on paper towels, you could always stock up on washable cloths instead that you can use to wipe down your kitchen surfaces and keep everything tidy.
On the other hand, instead of buying bottles of water by the case, get everyone in your home a fancy aluminium water bottle that they can refill with water from the tap. Always ask yourself if there’s a reusable alternative available before you stock up on one-use items.
3. Try Buying Second-Hand
If you’re struggling to make ends meet, then there are few things that will help you save money better than buying second-hand. While buying pre-used items can take some getting used to at first, there are plenty of things you can stock up on for cheap if you’re willing to pick something that’s second-hand.
For instance, if you’re buying a swing for a new baby, consider looking on auction sites and eBay before you go to the local childcare store. Most of the time, there are plenty of great items available that you can get pre-loved and simply wipe down to make them look and feel as good as new.
4. Shop Around
Do you ever get the sneaking suspicion that you’re paying way too much on your bills? A lot of us simply pay the price that we’re told for our gas, electricity, and broadband, assuming that we have the right deal and that it would be too much of a hassle to switch to someone new. However, the truth is that a quick switch could save you a lot of money each year.
Rather than just assuming you’re on the right package, take the time to shop around every now and again and double-check that you’re not wasting any money.
5. Stock up on Cashback and Coupons
Why bother paying full price for your must-have items when you can simply use a voucher and get money off instead? Whether you’re cutting back on daily expenses like diapers and food, or you want to reduce the cost of a big-ticket item, there are plenty of voucher websites online today where you can check for discount codes before you hit the “buy now” button.
On the other hand, you could always consider joining a cashback website where you get a small percentage of the money you spend back from certain stores. While the money you save here might not be astronomical at first, it’s a great way to get a bit more cash back into your wallet at the end of each month or year.