Having a large family, we have had to learn to live on a budget, and there have been times over the years when our budget was very tight. If times are tough at the moment or if you want to save a little extra towards the future, here are some tips that we have learned that can hopefully help you out.
First, sit down and work out what you have coming in and going out and check to make sure you haven’t got any subscriptions that you are not using; if you do, then cancel them. Sit down and work out a realistic weekly budget making sure that you allow a little for extras.
Our biggest weekly outgoing is food; here are some easy tips on how to reduce your food bills.
- Stop buying takeaways! Takeaways are expensive and generally unhealthy. It may surprise you how much you could save over a year if you didn’t eat take-out!
- Write a weekly shopping list. You can save a fortune in impulse buys and the time taken to get the groceries in.
- Swap to supermarket brands; supermarket own-brand goods are cheaper and often produced in the same factories as the big brand-named products.
- Swap supermarkets, by swapping to a budget supermarket, you can reduce your food bills by as much as half!
- Check out your cupboards before shopping and use what you have got before going out and buying more.
- Take a packed lunch to school/work. This will work out a lot cheaper than buying from the canteen or eating take-out food.
- Cook fresh. With a little bit of planning, this can save you a lot of money, and you will be eating healthier too.
- Stop buying bottled water. Tap water is free and healthy for you! If you like it cold, invest in a reusable bottle and put it in the fridge.
- An obvious one, but stop buying things you don’t need! We are all guilty of impulse buying. Particularly through the lockdowns, the Amazon delivery driver was a regular at our door! Many of the items bought were not essential!
- Check to see what benefits you might be entitled to on Gov.UK, you might find that you can claim for something that you didn’t know you could.
- Swap energy suppliers. Check out USwitch for the cheapest energy supplier; you could save yourself £300 a year!
- Save energy! Using too much electricity is a constant battle in our home! Turn off lights, take out plugs, turn off appliances and limit shower times, etc. You will definitely save a lot on your energy bills throughout the year.
- See if you can borrow before you buy new if it’s not something that you are going to use regularly, do you have to buy it?
- Shop second hand. Shop in charity shops for clothing, books, and even furniture. You can also look on Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace. You are saving money and doing your bit for the environment when you buy second-hand!
- Repurpose and reuse. (Check out our upcycling guide.) Before throwing things out or sending them to the charity shop, ask yourself could it be used for something/someone else. Also, the more that we can recycle, the better it is for the environment!
- Claim Marriage Allowance.If you are a married couple and one of you has an income below £12570, you can donate £1260 of your personal tax allowance to your partner, allowing them to earn more before tax. Find out more on Gov.UK
- Help to Save. If you’re on a low income and you are entitled to Working Tax Credits, Child Tax Credits, or Universal credit-earning more than £617.73 per month, you are entitled to join the government Help to Save scheme. You can save from £1 to £50 per month (£50 maximum) over four years, and for every £1 you save, the government will pay 50p. If you are a couple you can both save individually. If you put £50 per month over four years, you will have paid £2400 in and get £3600 back after the four years if you both do it, you will have saved £7200! After four years, your account will be closed, and the money will be yours, but then you won’t be able to open an account again. Find out more and check if you are eligible on Gov.UK
- Check out our Days Out page for tips on saving money on days out with the family.
Open a Savings account. Starling Bank and Metro Bank will allow you to verify yourself and create an account with them entirely online from home and without any credit checks. If you are like my 19-year-old daughter, who still lives at home and has trouble verifying your address, then try Metro Bank. She was able to open her bank account using only her Passport.
Starling Bank also offers a children’s account, Starling Kite; for children aged 6 to 16, this has a debit card, but it is built into your account so you can have complete control and visibility over it. It costs £2 per month with no extra fees making this a cheaper alternative to the Go Henry card.
They also offer a teen account for 16–17-year-olds; this is easy to set up and has the same features as an adult account; it comes with a debit card and the ability to transfer money