Oh money... again!? I have said it before that I hate the subject of money, it is the one thing that stresses me out! We have struggled a lot since my redundancy two years ago - well basically since having children. I was always very good with my money but since becoming self employed and earning a small salary working at a school a few hours a week - plus my husband having a much lower paid job, things have got slightly harder. Neither of us were particularly keeping track of our outgoings and somehow we seemed to be spending £100's each month and not really knowing where that money was going. Neither of us are extravagant, we haven't had a family holiday in 10 years, we rarely eat out - mysterious!
After a few hours of adding up and budgeting, creating a spreadsheet and making sure all direct debits were coming out of just one account we worked out what should be left each month, bearing in mind that I don't earn the same amount every month a little extra would be left in the account for unexpected expenses.
So, where was our money going?
After all the bills had come out we often felt like we weren't even left with enough to cover a weekly food shop - but on paper we should have had plenty to cover it. Most of this this extra spending was literally going on non-essentials. Both of us just tapping our debit cards willy-nilly on a daily basis - it is like invisible money. Sometimes I wasn't even checking how much was left in my account before spending!
Being a non-driver, I pass the shops at least twice a day walking to and from school - I was often popping in to the Co-op at lunchtime and picking up snacks or a can of drink then going back after I'd picked the children up and easily spending another £10-15. Between us we were probably wasting up to £20 per day!
I actually felt sick! We were potentially throwing up to £400 per month away on things we didn't actually need. We now take out cash every week £100 goes into a pot - that is for our family weekly food shop, petrol and treats. We shop at Aldi every Sunday and pay with cash - our shopping for a family of five costs around £80 per week. We actually think hard about what goes in to the trolley and stick to the budget. We don't plan to pay for anything in the shops with a debit card anymore - having the cash really does make you spend more wisely.
My eldest daughter is at high school, they have a canteen where they pay using their thumb print - nifty! I top up her dinner money account weekly or as needed. I realised she was spending upwards of £3 per day and sometimes going back there after school for a snack - so I have said she can take a packed lunch and then maybe twice a week have something from the canteen.
Another thing I have been doing to help towards days out, school trips and paying off bills is selling on eBay or local Facebook pages. I have a lot of stuff - some of it is just sitting in the cupboard doing nothing. Kids clothes and toys always sell well - even if it is only a few extra pounds - every little helps.
Look at your direct debits - it turns out both of us were paying for Amazon Prime! Do you have a deal with your broadband and cable provider? Quite often if you call them up they may be able to offer you a cheaper deal. Same with your mobile phone contract.
Using savings websites with voucher and discount codes is such a great idea to save you some cash and most have well know stores - Deals Queen is a great one to check out.
If you are a home owner take a look at this handy calculator - you will probably be surprised to find that your property value has increased a lot over the years - this may be a useful tool for your parents or older friends and relatives to look into.
Lastly, I know we get fed up with all of the adverts but do check if you had PPI, it is easier than you think. You don't need to go through a claims company if you look online for the credit provider most have an online form that you can fill in. Often you will get a quick response and a cheque in the post.
I have learnt the hard way that money doesn't have to be a stressful subject - we just needed to be sensible and sit down, talk about it and plan our budget and make what we have work for us.
(Pictures sourced from Pixabay)
*This is a collaborative post*