Budgeting is like dieting; we all know what we need to do!
Whether it’s writing a shopping list and sticking to it, having friends over for a barbeque instead of going to dinner, exercising and eating fresh food as opposed to processed, we know what needs to get done.
However, until a light bulb goes off, we sometimes float in limbo wondering why we are not achieving what we so desperately need.
This article is not necessarily a step-by-step guide on how to set up your budget but some handy tips for mums out there that will save you money.
1. Birthday Presents
This has taken me a few years to execute properly, however last year, not only did this technique keep me sane but was super sweet to my wallet.
I buy a calendar at the start of the year and write down everyone’s birthdays, when I mean everyone, I MEAN everyone. I then write an amount next to that name (everyone is different). At the start of each month, after I have calculated the total, I stop at the bank, withdraw that exact amount and go shopping. Whatever is in my wallet is purely for gifts for that month. If I don’t have enough then I need to get creative!
2. Christmas Presents
I’m not going to take the credit for this one. My friend Mary told me her secret after I noticed she was spending her many Christmas holidays actually having fun (as opposed to being in an overcrowded, noisy shopping center)!
Around June/July when we have mid year sales, she simply laybys all the gifts for Christmas (after she has written a list of course) pays 10% and puts a little bit more on the deposit fortnightly. Not only does she purchase items on sale, but budgets accordingly rather than fork out a lump sum at a very busy time of the year.
3. Wrapping Presents
I used to think mothers exaggerated on all the birthdays they attended, until…well…it just happened. As a mum, it seems I have at least 3 birthday parties on the weekend.
Not only are there gifts, but also I have to buy either boxes, wrapping paper or bags to put these little gifts in. Let’s just go with bags for the moment. If I have to buy 3 bags a week at an average of $2, that’s $6 a week…. nothing right? But what if I said in a month I was spending $24? In a year it would total $312 and that’s only kids birthdays.
What about siblings’, parents’ and friends’ birthdays? Let’s not even mention Christmas. My tip is to go to a second hand shop, buy a few comics for 50 cents and start wrapping! Better yet, kids love painting. Buy some butcher’s paper and let their creative juices flow!
4. Buying in Bulk
This one proved to be the hardest for my family as storage space in our little house was non-existent. Finding places to just put our clothes away became a bit of an ordeal. It was a light bulb moment that needed careful thought.
In the end, I claimed the carport as my own. With a revamp and a few cupboards I now go to Costco with a peaceful mind. Nappies, laundry powders, serviettes, toilet paper, cleaning sprays; any items that are non-perishable, are now bought every 3 months in my household. I buy enough to store and my grocery bill is so much less because buying in bulk is cheaper.
5. Cooking Antics
Let’s admit it, cooking every night can be a headache. Preparing meals in advance really helps. Not only by saving money but also saving you time.
I used to wander the supermarket aisles just picking things up because they were appealing, not really thinking about what I wanted to cook. Night after night, I would stare at my pantry trying to figure out what to cook and if there was ‘nothing’ I would make another trip to the supermarket. I did that twice a week on average, not including my ‘big’ supermarket trip. It was costing me too much money and more importantly, too much time!
I now write a mean list. It takes some time because you need to plan the meals for the week, but it’s worth it. Think of it as if you are some fancy schmancy chef writing a menu of all the splendid meals you will be preparing for your little customers.
After tracking my expenses with an app for a long time now, I can honestly say that the small savings make a big difference. With a few simple cut-backs and some smart planning, I easily shed hundreds of dollars off my bills annually.
Do you have any tips to add to this list? SHARE with us in the comments below!