Fine Tune Your Family Finances
Quick and easy ways to make your money go further
Written by Sarah Pennells
editor of SavvyWoman.co.uk
Getting smart with the household budget is one of the best ways to make your money go further.
While we all have a hand in family finances, research for SavvyWoman's Women & Money report shows that it's women who often manage the day-to-day spending - follow these practical tips to stretch your family's finances further.
Who Manages the Money?
Couples may share most things, but they don't always share the task of managing the short-term finances. More than half of women tend to be in charge of things like groceries, bills and shopping, the Women & Money report found, while men are more responsible for long term planning like investments and pensions.
Some couples find talking about money difficult, but it's vital if you're to live in financial harmony. There are bound to be things you don't agree on, but if you can compromise it doesn't have to become a crisis!
Plan Present Shopping - Use Rewards
Lynsey Lewis lives in Hertfordshire with husband Gareth and daughter Isobel, four. They have always discussed money openly, but it's Lynsey who looks after most of the day-to-day finances.
She also makes her money go further by planning her present shopping in advance. Lynsey said: "I always make sure I buy when there's an offer, a sale or maybe a voucher. It means I don't have a last-minute rush - especially at Christmas - and that I save on presents."
She collects loyalty points in her favourite shops, and uses them to cut the cost of everything from clothes to family days out. Lynsey also makes big purchases through cashback websites, then pays this into her daughter's savings account. "I save for Isobel anyway, but this is an effortless way of increasing it," she added.
Five Ways to Maximise Your Food Budget
Stuck for inspiration or aren't sure what to do with redundant ingredients? Love Food, Hate Waste has some great quick and easy recipes.
If you are responsible for the weekly shopping budget, you may be looking for ways to get more from your food bill. Try these tips:
- Plan everything you need before you hit the shops
- Try a portion planner to work out exactly how much you need to feed everyone
- Remember, you can freeze most meals - from stews and curries to pies and sauces - just make sure you do it on the day you cook, and remember to let it cool first
- Blend leftover vegetables into a tasty soup
- Turn overripe fruit into a delicious ice cream (or freeze and use as an amazing out-of-season sauce)
Juggle Lemons and Ginger For Lunch on the Run...
Entrepreneur Peta Adams, from London, juggles two businesses - meaning she's had to keep a close eye on personal spending. Lunch on the move is prepped in advance now.
"I also squeeze fresh lemons and ginger into tap water rather than paying out for flavoured drinks," she says. "I also cook at home a lot more than I used to, which I enjoy and is definitely budget-friendly."
Cutting Childcare Costs
For families with younger children, childcare costs can really break the budget. The average cost for two young children (one in an after-school club and one at nursery) is around £7,500 a year - more than a typical mortgage!
Cut childcare costs by seeing if your employer offers childcare vouchers. They let you pay for childcare from your pre-tax salary - potentially saving hundreds of pounds each year. Otherwise, take turns in babysitting for friends, get older relatives involved, or consider sharing a nanny with another family.
Nannies aren't just for wealthy families - if you have several young children or can share with another family it can be a cost-effective solution.
Make Friends with the Neighbours
Sarah Abell, husband David and four year-old son Jed, from Bristol, have found a simple way to help cut family costs. "We can't afford to pay babysitters just so we can go out every week," says Sarah. "But we've made good friends with our neighbours over the years and we take them up on their kind offers of free babysitting. They help if we have to present courses in the evening, or are both at work during the day - they even come and take shifts so no-one gets too tired!"
To say thanks, Sarah and David do a spot of dog sitting, have their neighbours round for tea - and even include them in family occasions.
We hope you found these tips and stories useful. Try Sarah's suggested sites for more money-saving inspiration:
The views expressed here are solely those of the author,
and do not necessarily reflect the views of M&S Bank.
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