Saturday, 14 March 2015

9 Family Budget Tips you can do now!

My friends and family know me as a planner, a budgeter, some may even say a little frugal.

I like to think I am just good with money, after all, I bought my first shares in the Commonwealth Bank at age 15 after I started my first casual job. Seriously, what kind of 15 year old girl buys shares? The kind that knows they will be an investment for her future. I have worked since I was 14. I got my first full time job two months after finishing Uni and have worked ever since.

When I had my baby, however, this all changed! We suddenly dropped from a two income family, to a one income family. We had all these extra expense and our savings slowed. Due to complications during my pregnancy I was forced to finish work at 34 weeks. As I was on a contract (thanks to our PM for firing all the public servants), I also lost my job. This wouldn't have been a big deal, except it meant the 8 years of long service I built up vanished, and that maternity leave I'd been banking on disappeared!

Like I said, I've always been good with my budget, but with our new single income status I found new ways to cut the fat.

Here are my Top 9 family friendly budget tips you can start implementing straight away.

1. Plan your meals and ALWAYS write a shopping list

Have you ever walked the aisles of the supermarket and seen something you never usually buy on special and thought, wow I'm going to get this! One of the easiest ways to save money is to write a shopping list and stick to it. When you go to the supermarket, only buy whats on the list. No more impulse purchase of those chia seeds you actually have no idea how to cook. But if you see something you regularly buy on special, like nappies, stock up!

Want to take it one step further? Plan your meals. Have an hour to spare one evening? browse your recipe books or check out the quick and easy recipes on Taste and plan a menu for the week. Write down ingredients you need on your list. Better still if you can plan meals that use some of the same ingredients. For example, minestrone soup one night? Why not use the rest of that celery in your bolognese the next day and hide extra veggies for the kids!

While were on the food shopping tips, avoid shopping when you're hungry. You always seem to end up buying twice as much!

2. Review your phone and internet plans

There are some really good and cheap plans out there now. Do your research using tools like Whistle Out or You Compare to compare internet and mobile phone plans to come up with a better deal! There are so many companies out there with great plans now, if you talk to your current company and say you're going to jump ship, they may even do you a better deal.

3. Get utility discounts

If you don't ask, you will never receive. Well, this is true for your utility companies. Chances are if you call them and ask for a discount, they'll give you one. If not, threaten to change companies, if they don't bite at that, you need to stick to your word and call other companies. Ask them if they will give you a discount if you join. You could save up to 15 percent. I got an 11 percent discount last time I did this on top of a previous 3 percent discount for paying my bills early. With the price of electricity still going up, it makes sense. You can save a packet!

4. Cut bad habits

Whether its smoking or excessive chocolate consumption. Cutting down on these habits will save you money!

When I was working, I would buy myself a coffee everyday. Sometimes twice a day! At $4 a pop, if I cut down just 3 of those coffees a week, I saved $12 a week. That's an extra $624 a year! Think of it this way, you could have those extra 3 bought coffees a week or 6 new pairs of shoes! Don't get me wrong, I love my coffee. But instead of buying an expensive coffee everyday (which to be honest, was not great coffee). I bought a $50 coffee machine and started making my own. It took no longer that 5 minutes to make and saved me at least $20 a week!

5. Stop using credit cards

I never use my credit card. It's too easy when using a credit card to just think 'I'll put it on the card and pay it off later'. Using a debit card, or preferably Efpos or cash, is the way to go. I switched to a debit card so I'm using my own money. Knowing I'm spending my savings makes me think twice about making a purchase. Using your own money rather than credit will stop you paying that interest, which can be as high as 20 percent! That dress on sale for 20 percent off is not really on sale when you put it on your card. If you don't pay it off straight away, it could end up costing you another 20 percent or 30 percent or more!

According to Money Smart, the average Aussie has $4.200 in credit card debt and is paying $750 in interest a year! Start paying that debt down! A lot of banks and credit unions will transfer your balance from your old provider and offer 0 percent interest for the first year. That might allow you to start paying that debt down and get out of the credit trap!

6. Be energy wise - Review your electricity and gas use

While I was growing up, my father always taught me to turn off the light when I left a room. Electricity prices keep going up, so cut down on how much you use! Turn of lights when you leave the room and stop leaving your appliances on standby when you aren't using them. They are constantly chewing up power when you do this! Turn the TV and microwave off at the wall. Over the year this could save you a pretty penny.

Looking up when peak and off-peak times are for your gas and electricity. If for example your gas is off-peak between 9pm and 7am. Try having a shower before you go to bed instead of earlier in the evening.

7. Sell and buy used goods

When you're buying things for a baby who might only use a product for a month before they outgrow it. I see people on Facebook buy/swap/sell sites constantly selling products like a Bumbo because their bubs are either now too big or didn't like it. Some great things to buy second hand include playpens, clothes and all those large toys that babies only use for such brief periods.

Likewise, sell your unwanted goods on Facebook or Gumtree. You'll be surprised at what people will buy! We recently moved and sold all sorts of unwanted furniture on Gumtree! Not only did we not have to pack and move it, but made a little extra cash. You can sell anything on line these days, there's always someone looking for what you're selling!

8. Beg, borrow, steal?

Ok, maybe not steal, but think of all the entertainment you can get out of the local library! They have a range of movies and tv shows on DVD you can borrow for yourself and the kids. Get yourself a library and head over for a family outing! There's also free book reading session for the kids at many libraries which are lots of fun and a range of other events.

While we are on the borrowing topic, why not arrange a swap meet with friends? Instead of buying new clothes, you might find some great pieces in your friends wardrobes.

Don't buy something you'll only use once or twice, ask around and chances are your friends might be willing to lend theirs. My husband recently trimmed the edges of our lawn when selling our house. He wanted to buy an edge trimmer, but we asked around it turned out a friend had one he was happy to lend us.

9. Look for free and cheap outings for the kids

Not every outing has to be an expensive one! There are plenty of activities that are free or quite cheap. Every kid loves the zoo or movies or aquarium, but these can be some pretty pricey outings! Every city or town has something you can do for free. A picnic in the park, walking by the lake or some time at the beach are all great free activities. Check out Kidspot for some free things to do with the kids!

My friends over at Family Beat recently put together an article on how to save money on family outings which can be found here! Rachel at Toilets aren't for turtles also came up with some great ideas here!

Sometimes entertaining at home can even be more fun than going out! Think movie nights, scavenger hunts in the garden and camping in the backyard!

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Do your research and you can certainly so save money and have fun with your family!

Being a family in today's world is tough! Even if you have two incomes, once kids come along, so do lots of added expenses. Doing a little leg work though can save you big money!

Happy Savings

xo


Linking with:
My Home Truths
Essentially Jess
Finding Myself Young
Agent Mystery Case

26 comments:

  1. These are great tips Lu. I need to call my electricity company tomorrow and ask for a discount! #aussieparentingbloggers

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    1. Thanks. I was nervous asking for the discount, but when I asked they obliged. An early pay discount is often easy to get. Good luck :)

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  2. Very sensible advice there Lu. We've gone back to menu planning now that I'm no longer working - it really is an effective way to stick to a budget when it comes to the groceries. Will be ringing up my utilities next - I've never asked them for a discount before. Good tip!

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    1. Menu planning is definitely a great way to save grocery money, and you end up eating healthier I think. Definitely call the electric company, they might be able to offer you something off your bill!

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  3. Awesome tips! I am stuck with my phone and electricity companies because of where I live and needing better coverage than a lot of the cheaper phone companies offer. I might save a few bucks, but it's pointless if I can't use the phone! I do however pay off all of my bills weekly so there is less bill shock. Currently I am $200 a head on my power bill so it gives me a bit of leeway when I have a tight week.

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    1. My parents have the same problem with the internet. There's only one company that does internet where they live but they just installed solar power and its set to save them a pretty penny on electricity too. They haven't used any power from the grid since it was installed! If you pay your bills early, maybe call your power company and ask for an early pay discount, I got one last time I asked for that :)

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  4. I must admit I'm pretty lazy about selling used items on Gumtree. I left an almost new baby change table with bath underneath out the front for a neighbour to take. All I got was a box of Cadbury favourites in return! Great tips.

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    1. Oh well, at least you got some chocolates for it :) It does take some effort to sell things sometimes, but its often worth it.

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  5. We sell lots of things on gumtree/Facebook and even just picked up some free wicker stools that hubby has painted to look brand new. I also do my grocery shopping online to avoid impulse purchases!

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    1. Great idea! Online shopping would definitely help with those impulse purchases. I love grocery shopping for some reason though, crazy I know!

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  6. All great tips ... you would have got on great with my hubster, he invested in gold as a 16 year old and then sold it at a profit ... bought his first home before he was 20. Sadly I seem to have stuffed up his Midas touch LOL!!!!

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    1. Wow, I didn't buy enough shares for that! I bought more during the GFC, but I'm kicking myself I didnt buy even more! Good on your hubby, I'm sure you haven't stuffed his financial genius entirely.

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  7. Wow Lu, you are such a financially responsible woman! Great tips, I really need to reign in my credit card spending.
    Thanks for linking to my entertaining kids post :)

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    1. No problem, it was a fun post :) I used to love riding the train when I was a kid!
      I try to be responsible! Sometimes at the expense of fun, if only I could win the lotto lol

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  8. We pretty much only do free family outings. I've changed my electricity bill to get a better bill but OMG all my utilities went up by $100-$300 this quarter and we haven't used anymore of anything so I don't know what's going on. I meal plan as much as possible too and make big batches of food to get the most out of it.

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    1. that's a big rise :( On your bill it should list how much energy you use a day, compare it to an old bill. If it says your usage has dramatically gone up, I'd call the electric company and question it! Sometimes they only guestimate you bills and the next quarter it goes down because the guestimation was out. You always use more over winter months too as it takes more energy to heat water even if you dont use heating.. Stupid electricity prices are constantly going up though :( Big batches are great for saving money! You can also make healthy meals so much cheaper :)

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  9. Great tips. I must get back to looking for free activities for the family. We've been hibernating a little too much lately and it's always nice if it's a freebie.

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    1. love a good free family outing! sometimes I think they go down better than the ones that cost a lot too!

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  10. This post has come just at the right time for me. Thanks for the great advice.

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    1. great to know this advice has helped :) Hope you start saving some more money soon!

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  11. Great tips here. I have always been the opposite of you. I am a spender. As a result we have carried years of credit card and car loan debts, which we are only just now getting around to slowly paying off. NOT SMART! I've already implemented a lot of these tips and am hoping that this time next year our situation will be very different! -Aroha (#teamIBOT)

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    1. Glad to know you're getting the credit card debt under control! I didn't even get a credit card until a few years ago, I always had the belief that if I didn't have the money for it now, I never would. Credit cards are handy for online shopping though! I switched to a debit card so I can still use it online if I like but its not going on credit. Hope you're on the right track now!

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  12. Great tips - thanks so much for sharing! :)

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    1. Thanks, I hope they are helpful :)

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  13. Great tips and all ones we use here. We've been a single income for a while, and you learn how to adjust, and still enjoy your life. :)

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    1. Thanks! Being a single income family is hard, you definitely learn to cut the fat were you can!

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