- Make a list of all recurring expenses. These include regular monthly payments (for example gym membership, subscriptions, children's activities), regular yearly payments (for example house, car and travel insurance, car and boiler services) and regular payments that change from month to month (for example utility bills, holiday deposits, birthday presents). Remember to add in Christmas and birthday expenses too. If you don't know how much a payment will be each month, always over estimate.
- Keep a close eye on special offers, particularly for expensive yet non-perishable items that you can buy in bulk, for example nappies, toilet rolls and washing powder. There are several comparison websites around that you can use to compare prices. Also look out for special offers on small toys like Lego or craft sets that you can stock up and have on hand for when your children are invited to birthday parties. We also usually buy birthday and Christmas presents for our own children in sales throughout the year.
- When you receive a renewal quote for any kind of insurance, always shop around before renewing. It's almost always possible to find a cheaper quote, sometimes significantly so and often even with the same provider. Similarly, shop around for utility providers as switching can also save you a lot of money.
- Make the most of loyalty cards and cash back sites. We go on lots of family days out, and many of them are completely free thanks to the points that we collect when we do our supermarket shopping.
- You can save a huge amount on things for babies and children by shopping second hand. Harry still plays with the roomful of wooden train track that we bought him for Christmas three years ago - three huge boxes cost us just £10. Then when your children grow out of toys and clothes, if you have kept them in good condition with all the pieces together you can make some money back by selling them back on.
- Check bank and credit card statements regularly to keep on top of your finances. It's also a good way to remind yourself of those recurring payments that you might be making and not seeing any benefit from, for example an unused gym membership or unread magazine subscription.
- When it comes to savings, we've always found it a good idea to set a regular amount each month to save, and budget for it in the same way as other regular expenses. If you set up a standing order to your savings account then the money will be taken out automatically and you won't forget about it or be tempted to give it a miss one month.
- It's important to save to make sure that you have an emergency fund with a decent amount of money in it. If possible, make this an account which is harder to access, so that you aren't tempted to dip into it. This money should be kept for high and unexpected expenses, for example a new boiler or repairs to the car or house. We use our ISAs for this. Then keep a smaller amount of savings easily accessible for those surprise expenses that crop up from time to time, for example a school trip or replacement household appliance.
If you are saving money for a house deposit, you can check how far your savings will go using a mortgage calculator. You can use the calculator to play around with the figures, for example by changing the amount that you have available for a deposit and adjusting the term of the mortgage, so you can see how far your savings will take you.
|Saving those pennies!|