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The Busy Family Budgeting Guide

2nd December 2021

With a full and busy family in tow, it can be hard to keep tabs on your finances. Especially when your days are filled with child drop-offs and pickups, a busy 9-5, maintaining a clean and tidy house, and let’s not forget trying to get the whole family to eat the same meal for once. With all the pressures and stresses of modern life piling up, it can be easy to forget about budgeting, and turn to costly convenience. While this may seem like the easiest option, you could actually be setting your finances up to fail.

So, for all the parents on the go that rarely get a spare second to sit down, take a moment to read these 4 budgeting tips. Not only will they help you to keep on top of your money, but they should also relieve some of the stresses of family life too.

Who doesn’t love to dine out every once in a while? It’s the perfect chance to catch up with friends and family, treat yourself, end a great day out or simply enjoy a delicious meal you don’t have to cook. Unsurprisingly, research has found that the average Brit can spend up to almost £700 a year on dining out - that means this innocent indulgence can literally eat up 3% of the average UK annual salary.

But will we stop? Of course not! Instead, discover ways you can head out for a meal without it breaking the bank and save those extra pounds. Here are our 5 best tips to help save you trim the bill while dining out.

1. Cancel subscriptions

If you’re the type of family who barely gets the chance to sit down in front of the TV, chances are, you don’t really need the Now TV, Amazon Prime, and Netflix subscription, do you?

Newly advertised subscriptions may look enticing and appear affordable, but the reality is that all these services add up. From forgetting to cancel free trials to signing up to new streaming sites to watch one-off TV shows or documentaries, the excitement of many services quickly fades away. The constant monthly payments, unfortunately, do not.

Many busy families often find that they are no longer using many of the subscriptions they signed up for either. Forgetting to keep track of all these “trivial” outgoings will see your bank account being slowly drained by subscription bills. This is also one of the most common reasons for heading into your overdraft unexpectedly.

It may seem like a long process to find out what you’re paying for and cancel what you don’t need, however, but it’s really not. All it takes is sitting down one evening while the kids are in bed, and checking through your monthly statements. If you notice constant outgoings of subscriptions you no longer use, simply give them a ring and cancel the services. Or even easier, cancel the direct debits from your bank account. It’s also important to not be swayed by offers to persuade you not to cancel. Just think, if I was just about to cancel, would I really use the service again? Be strong, you’ve got this!

2. Have a rainy day fund

With busy family life comes unexpected costs and bills that go beyond your regular living expenses. Whether your car broke down on the school run, your fridge decided to call it a day or your teenager maxed out their student loan, life can throw many unpredictable moments that have to be dealt with there and then.

This is why having a rainy day fund is essential for on-the-go working families. The fund will help you to cover the costs of sudden bills and put you at ease knowing that you’ve saved money for such incidents. They also allow you to pay for these unforeseen charges without having to borrow and pay interest.

Simply setting some money aside each month or each week and adding to the rainy day fund will always come in handy.

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3. Involve kids and teenagers

For children and teenagers especially, it’s crucial to learn about the importance of budgeting and managing finances. Your children are also directly affected by the financial choices you make, so setting a good and sensible example is key.

There are a number of ways you can involve your children and teenagers in budget planning without them finding it boring. For example, why not create a savings chart with each family member writing down something they want to save for? It could be something as big as a family trip to Disneyland, or something less extravagant like saving up for a monthly meal out or a certain toy - but preferably something everyone can enjoy. Get creative and make the chart yourself, hang it up on the fridge and the closer you get to your budget, get the kids to colour it in. This visual experience will teach your children that money doesn’t grow on trees, and that rewards come with hard work.

Using cash instead of bank cards while shopping is also a great way for your kids to appreciate the value of money. While paying off monthly debts on a credit card is great for your credit score, many children believe that money comes from the magical plastic card in your pocket. By teaching them the meaning of money, and purchasing everyday items with cash, your children will understand how quickly you can buy things, but how long it takes to save.

4. Cut your food budget

Do you often head to the supermarket and grab a ready meal for the family because you’re always so busy? These “quick” regular trips to the supermarket add up, both financially and time-wise. What’s more, the average UK household spends £588 per week on living costs, including food. This staggering amount equates to £2,548 a month, which is why busy families on budgets should make cuts wherever possible.

This is where stockpiling and heading to the reduced section comes in. Say goodbye to the days of brand loyalty, and hello to savvy shopping. Every supermarket these days has a reduced aisle, where fresh produce is nearing its “best before” date. With many products offering savings of 60% or more, stockpiling on the produce you can freeze will save you money in the long run and stop you from heading to the shops so often.

You’ll also be able to easily meal plan with a stocked fridge and freezer, which makes saving on the food bill even easier.

Manage your money

There are so many ways to cut costs even when you live a busy family life. Whether you simply reduce the amount you spend on feeding the family, or involve your kids and teach them about the importance of finances, you’ll find ways to stretch your money and live happily on a budget.

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