April 22, 2021

Mama Life || Tips For Successful Family Budgeting

Running a family home doesn't particularly come cheap, but there are ways to make it all seem more manageable and stable throughout the month. We all know what it's like to spend a good chunk of the month waiting for payday, stretching those pennies out only to overspend in week one all over again. By creating a budget plan for you and your family, you can have an easier life financially, feeling more prepared for emergencies and less stressed about money. We've had our ups and downs with our income and the things life throws at you, so I've put together some tips that may well help you if you're finding it hard to make your money last the month or finding it hard to keep track of. 

Start with a list

Start your budgeting journey by making two lists. One list for everything coming in and another for everything going out. You need to include every single thing, however small and put all your outgoings in order they are taken through the month so you have  no surprises on the day. That way, with a thorough breakdown of your bills, you can always make sure there is the right money in your account, avoiding charges and unwanted letters. Likewise, make a list of everything you have coming in money wise, every wage, money owed that month, benefits you receive or the average income from home businesses.

Get professional advice

You may find that once you start looking at your bills, that you are left with very little. You may have debts to pay off, credit cards to pay or simply need to stretch too little, too far. Places like the CAB can give more localised advice moving forwards and there are plenty of online financial calculators for help with things like consolidation loans which are great if you have lots of different debts to pay, so that you pay them all off with one loan and just have one monthly payment. Even if the amount of money going out each month doesn't change, having less payments going out, less dates to remember and less companies to deal with is a huge relief mentally.

Get brutal with bills

Take a good hard look at your list of outgoings and see if they are all really necessary. At times when we are struggling, it's a good time to ditch the TV subscriptions, cancel any gym memberships we aren't using, weight loss plans we are paying for, or any non - essential bills. Essential bills are things like gas, electric, water etc, anything else may be able to be culled or even reduced if you speak to the company or move to a different company on a better deal. Never be afraid to ask for discounts, call up to see if you can be on a reduced tariff or move to new companies for new customer deals. It may feel like a bit of a faff, but it is worth it to save money.

Work out your weekly spends

Once you know how much you have after all bills (regardless of what date they go out), you can start working out your weekly budget. Divide your monthly spends by the number of weeks so you have a sum to work with, and from there you can decide where that money goes. Always remember to include food bills into your outgoings so that you're not left without! Money after food, bills and all other outgoings can be enjoyed, saved or put aside for when it's needed if things change through the month, as they can do. 

Spend a little, Save a little 

Saving a little each month seems like a huge luxury, but it's a great idea if you can do it. Having a bit of money put away for emergencies, treats, or those things that seem to need buying at the worst times, like school uniform, new shoes, cars breaking down or the most common - the washing machine deciding to pack up when you have a mountain of family clothes to get clean! Even just £10 saved one month could be a life line the next and by trying to stick to your weekly spending limit, you should find it easier to make your funds stretch through the month at a steady rate.

Plan for food shops 

Like it or loath it, meal planning is great for reducing food waste as well as saving money. Heading out for a shopping trip with no meal plan can be pricey. Quite often we'll get distracted by deals, things that take our fancy in that moment or extras like clothing and toys. By shopping for meal plans, however loosely, we are heading to the aisles we need and will be far less likely to chuck random things in the trolley or over buy on things like fresh products that may end up going to waste. When meal planning, I tend to shop for ten meals for the week, with things that have long dates on such as tins of tuna for a pasta bake, fresh goods that can be frozen if not eaten and dried goods that last a long time. That way, if we don't fancy a certain meal, we still feel like we have a bit more choice.

Life really can feel a lot less stressful when we have some kind of budget in place. Remember you can still have treats, go on shopping sprees and do fun stuff, just work within your means and don't leave yourself short for the coming weeks!

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