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The Parents Guide to Family Budget Stretching

Amid the excitement of bringing up a family, one of the daunting things for most parents these days is money. Indeed, a recent survey showed that 9 out of 10 British parents have money worries, and, perhaps more alarmingly, a third said that these worries were shared by their children. Given that help from the government doesn’t appear as though it will be increasing anytime soon, and also the financial strain our generation largely finds itself under, such findings aren’t necessarily a surprise.

Clearly though, in light of such concerns, it’s fair to say that we’re a money conscious nation. So the important thing is to squeeze as much as we can from our monthly budgets, with a view to saving as well as we can too. So here are some tips to help set you on your way…

Go second-hand on baby goods
So many soon-to-be parents I speak to panic over all the new ‘stuff’ they need to buy for their new arrival. Cots, clothes, prams, toys, – it’s an admittedly endless line of goods. But you’ll be amazed at how cheaply you can pick things up on sites like eBay, provided you’re willing to go second hand. There are even second-hand nappies as a cheaper alternative if you fancy it. Then, of course, there are hand me downs too – so don’t be shy to ask around among friends and family.

Be a bulk shopper
The more you go to the shops, the more you inevitably buy. Instead, make sure you have a clear weekly/monthly plan about what you need in terms of food and household products. Then make sure you buy it all at set intervals. Bulk buying, compared with nipping up to the corner shop each day to buy bits and bobs, will save you plenty in the long run.

Day trip freebies
Keeping your kids stimulated and entertained need not be an expensive exercise. There are tons of free museums and galleries which can make for an enriching day out. In addition, when it comes to the school holidays, there are certain sports clinics which are completely free for boys and girls.

Cutting out debt
Credit card debt is a blight on many Brits. It’s understandable given the ease of use credit cards allow, not to mention the reward schemes they offer. But once it gets beyond being able to pay off the balance each month, you can be left to pay a small fortune in interest. To avoid this, and to start chipping away at your debt as quickly as possible, it may well be advisable to apply for a low-cost loan to consolidate this. This will mean fixed repayments, but at a much better rate, thus bringing you back into the black sooner than you expected.

Choose a staycation
With the pound getting weaker, trips abroad are becoming more expensive. And with more heads to pay for when travelling, it all adds up pretty quickly. Opting for getaways within the UK can save a lot of money, and you’ll be amazed at the hidden gems on our lovely island.

Be energy savvy
It’s important to ingrain in your children from an early age the importance of being sparing with energy: switching off lights when not in us, and everything else. But an easier, and usually more significant saving can be made by simply checking your current deal on gas and/or electricity against others. Energy firms very sneakily increase the costs of your offers at the end of each term, working under the assumption that many won’t want to go through the effort of switching supplier. Yet making a change can save hundreds of pounds per year, and, contrary to what some may think, the hassle of switching actually lies with the providers – not you.

A team effort
To really reap the benefits of thriftiness, you as a family will need to buy into it together. Because if you’re all on the same page and pulling in the same direction, you’ll be able to get so much more as a household out of the income you have available. It all starts with doing good-old fashioned budgets, and then sticking to it. Do this correctly, and you’ll be well on your way to sound financial health as a family, thus allowing you to worry less about money, and more about the things which matter most in life.

Learning Through Play
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