January. Possibly the most depressing month of the year – most people are broke after an extravagant December and it’s the longest wait for your next pay day! Luckily, we have Henry’s birthday to look forward to at the end of the month (fortunately after payday – whoop!) But in the meantime, we need to pinch those pennies to get through this month.
We’re very lucky that apart from our mortgage, we don’t have any debts. Our car finance was paid off last year and we don’t have credit card debts, loans or finance outstanding. We’ve always been incredibly careful with any type of borrowing and have tried to live within our means so we don’t overstretch ourselves. This has meant sacrifices, but we live a comfortable life and we’re happy. I do know however know that a lot of people aren’t this lucky and need to rely on extra help in the form of credit cards and loans.
With two children about to go in full time childcare, I’ve been considering our finances a lot recently, and what we can do to reduce our spending. 2019 is our year to really get financially stable – not just in the short term, but in the long term too. Here are a few things I’ll be doing to change our spending habits and get financially stable this year – hopefully you can take away some tips too!
Decrease your monthly outgoings
This is the simplest but most effective way to save money on a month to month basis. Take a look at your monthly spending and see what you can change, reduce or cut out completely! Food and petrol is our biggest expenditure after our mortgage. I’m trying to reduce our food bill by meal planning, batch cooking and reducing how much meat we eat. Most people say shop around, but to be honest what works best for us is home food delivery! I spend less money by following my list, and collect points along the way! We are looking at changing our car to something that is cheaper to run, and we are also due to remortgage this year so I’m hoping that will give us a bit of spare cash! I will be shopping around when our current gas and electric and mobile phone bills come to an end. We’ve already got rid of one pay monthly TV contract, and I’m thinking of getting rid of our TV licence as we NEVER watch live TV (this is something I need to research further though as I don’t want to get it wrong!)
Make small monthly savings to impact later in the year
I generally start shopping for birthdays and Christmas at the beginning of the year when the sales hit. I’m fortunate that our children are still young and therefore not bothered by fad toys or what’s in fashion so I can buy things that are in the sale or even just a little bit each month to help spread the cost of big purchases. Last year I bought Henry’s first birthday presents before he was even born!! This also applies to things like buying next season’s clothes in the sales when they’re cheap. Buying ahead and stashing for when they’re bigger can really help save money in the long run.
This month, every time I’ve gone to buy something, I’ve paused and asked myself – do I really need this? Can I afford it? Is it necessary? This has saved me a LOT of money, I can tell you! I’m known for making rash purchases of things we don’t really need, so this is something I definitely need to stop! I’m also starting to be a bit more eco aware and how people’s shopping habits are actually very damaging to our environment. By reducing our spending, we are reducing waste and therefore making a small impact on our surroundings.
Find free things to do in your area
We spend a lot of money on taking the kids out to places. As full time working parents, we feel guilty for not spending all week with them, so we like to make the most of our weekends. However, even going out for lunch can cost us £50 a time, and doing that every weekend is a sure fire way to burn through our disposal income. So I’m definitely going to be more conscious of money saving on days out this year. Little things like taking a picnic and tons of snacks will save money in food, and having yearly passes to places like the zoo or the farm give us things to do for “free” when we don’t have that much money. There are so many local parks, woodland trails and walks to discover, we need to be more savvy this year with our days out. I wrote this post a couple of years ago with things to do in our area, so I’m definitely going to be updating it and referring to it more this year!
Buy second hand
I’m no stranger to a second hand bargain, and am definitely not snobby about buying second hand from local sale sites or eBay. Anything from toys to clothes to furniture, I can save money and also help save things from going to landfill by reusing.
Sort out your debts
If you do have debts, it’s worthwhile seeing if a company such as Creditfix could help you with them and make your day to day money management a bit easier.
Having a family in this day and age is an expensive thing. I feel like our expectations are much higher nowadays than they were when I was child – days out, birthday parties, expensive electronics and designer clothes are pretty much “the norm” it seems but unfortunately “keeping up with the Joneses” just isn’t something that is sustainable. So this year I’m going to worry less about what everyone else is doing, and concentrate on what we can afford as a family. After all, it’s us who has to live this life. And it’s more important for our children to spend time with their parents stress free, than have us worrying about money all the time.
*Disclosure: this is a collaborative post*