In my loving relationship with my husband, the one thing that we still have discrepancies over is money.
We had been finding that despite earning reasonable professional incomes, we were still coming up short too often so we implemented some great family budgeting tips in order to fix this imbalance and start saving money instead!
Saving a little bit of money here and there does not call for drastic measures.
And a little bit of saving goes a long way when accumulated over a year.
So I would like to share with you a list of the 9 most effective family budgeting tips that we have used over the past 12 months to help us save a ton of money.
1.Cut Out The Non-Essentials
This seems like a simple enough idea.
But it will involve sacrifices which not all family members may be happy with.
I cancelled my $80/month yoga studio membership in favour of an $18/month online yoga membership. That is a saving of $744 a year already! I need to be extra motivated to actually do the classes but I have scheduled them on my calendar for 3 times a week, just like my old yoga studio.
It’s actually easier to do yoga at home because I can do it while the kids play in the living room behind me!
I stopped forcing my 6 year old to go to gymnastics class which was costing nearly $250 a quarter. When I actually asked him what he wanted to do, he said politely that he didn’t actually really like gymnastics and he would rather try some karate next term. So with the $500 I saved on gym fees, we invested in karate lessons only costing $150 for the remainder of the year. That’s $350 less per year!
My kids started at private school and kindergarten only a year ago so we have noticed an increase in school fees, uniforms and school book costs. But I will not have them go without proper education as I feel like education is the key to a bright future so I will never sacrifice their tuition fees. You need to know what is important to your lives and prioritise accordingly.
Avoid going to the mall if you know you cannot avoid spending money on non-essentials.
We factor a little bit of cash into our monthly budget for entertainment and ‘miscellaneous’ which covers things like coffee dates or small fun items for purchase but we limit this as much as we are able and save money for the more important things.
2. Re-Finance Loans
I had a broker look at our 3 mortgages to see if we could get any better deals with different lenders. In the end, we actually had the lowest interest rates the broker could find with the best perks so we didn’t have to change anything there.
But if you could find a better deal, re-financing your bank loans can save you thousands of dollars over the life of the loans.
Personal loans and credit card debts can also be consolidated so you pay less annual fees and lower interest rates.
Go and see your local bank or broker to see what deals can be done to improve your debt management.
I recently got all of my insurance premiums hugely reduced by changing companies and getting every policy under the one umbrella.
We had our car, caravan and apartment with one provider, our house, investment house and motorbike with another and were paying over $5000 per year altogether.
By changing everything over to the one company that offers multi-policy discounts and increasing the excess on claims to the maximum amount, I was able to reduce the premiums to just over $3000 altogether! $2000 per year saved!
This is a significant saving that is definitely worth looking at.
4. Plan Your Meals
List your week on a calendar and plan what you are having for dinner each night.
Then write a shopping list to correspond so you avoid unnecessary food purchases and unfortunate food wastage.
There are a bunch of free apps which take the hassle out of this task, allowing you to browse menus, plan your week as well as add items to your grocery list. Try Ziplist for free or a paid subscription to one like Cooksmarts.
Plan the kids school lunches in this same way and use basic and filling healthy food without spending a fortune on pre-packaged treats.
I use my Thermomix to bake a couple of batches of quiches/chocolate cake/cookies/cupcakes/muffins/pastrys/pizzas etc at the beginning of each week which gives me a delicious and varied selection of foods for the kids lunchboxes. We avoid regular tuckshop or canteen food unless it is a special occasion or special treat.
5. Supermarket Shopping
Save money on your supermarket shopping by writing a list using your menu plan and only going to the shops once per week.
This is a great way to avoid overspending and food wastage.
Buy things in bulk, and buy things on sale.
Read the store catalogues before deciding on a meal plan and make your choices accordingly. This may mean a week of chicken based dishes when you find chicken at rock bottom prices. You can be a savvy shopper without hardcore couponing and without sacrificing the quality of your purchases.
Buy fresh fruit and vegetables that are in season and avoid costly imports.
These have fewer nutrients when they have longer to travel from farm to table and they are more expensive.
Time your trip to the grocery store wisely.
Being a busy mother, it is not always easy to sneak away to the store solo, but when I do, I find I can save money by being less distracted and avoiding impulse purchases.
Make sure you don’t go shopping when you are hungry or you may end up buying more than you budgeted for!
I also enjoy going on a Sunday afternoon for discounted meat and bread. And I know that around 3.30pm on weekdays my local store has heavily discounted and still great quality fruit and vegetables letting you fill a bag for $3!
Try generic brands.
The supermarket brand staples are often half the price of the well known brand items and sometimes just as good. I will buy flour, sugar, cocoa and other staple items in the generic brands. Some generic items are sub-par at best however so despite being a fraction of the cost, there are a lot of things that I will not bother buying.
Peruse the shelves both high and low for best prices and on the spot specials and don’t neglect to check the unit prices.
Retailers tend to place the most mainstream and most expensive grocery items at eye level which is to trick customers into paying more. Look on the top and bottom shelves for mid range and cheaper items. The price per unit is also listed on the price tag and is a great way to compare items of a different size to find yourself the best deal possible.
6. Pay With Cash
A great way to save money is to pay with cash rather than card.
I withdraw my spending money for the week and then spend it exactly where it is allocated in the budget. For instance my weekly grocery shop budget is $250. So I make sure I don’t go over that at the store.
This really hits home on the value of money.
When you pay with credit or debit card, it’s as if you are not even using real money. With cold hard cash however I really feel as if it’s my hard earned dollars that I am spending here and hence, I spend less!
7. Watch Your Consumables
Consumables such as petrol or electricity can really add up our day to day expenses.
Stop using so much gas by walking or riding a bike or catching the bus where you are able. Not only is it better for your health, but also your wallet and the environment! Win, win.
Look online for the cheapest places for fuel in your local area before refilling your tank.
We fill at up at the supermarket owned gas stations because we get a fuel discount with our weekly shop and can save at least 4cents per litre (that’s 16cents per gallon of fuel!). In a 130L tank (that’s about 35gallons) I save $5 off my re-fuel. This will give me an extra $100 over a normal year in my back pocket!
Save energy within your house by using energy efficient light-bulbs and by simply turning off lights that you are not using.
It sounds easy enough, but it can mean real savings in the long term.
Have shorter showers.
Use air-conditioners efficiently at moderate temps with all of the doors and windows closed.
When it comes time to replace appliances such as washing machines or fridges, purchase ones that are rated as energy and water efficient.
8. Collect Your Change
This may seem like small fry, but it really works for me.
Put a piggy bank on your kitchen counter and start accumulating all of your loose change over a period of time, say a year.
At the end of 12 months, this could be a dinner date or a special treat for yourselves. Get the whole family involved for even more savings!
9. Consider Your Living Arrangements
Your rent or house repayments make up a significant part of your outgoings each month.
Can you arrange lesser repayments on your house loan? Or maybe you could negotiate cheaper rent with your landlord. Can you rent out a room or take in an exchange student for a short or longer term financial adjustment?
If your income and expenditure are too far out of balance, you either need to increase one (income), or decrease the other (expenditure).
There are heaps of ways to help to earn a bit of extra money from home in order to supplement your income.
I hope my family budgeting tips will help to relieve some financial pressure in your household.
Please let me know you go implementing these ideas and comment below if you have some hot family budgeting tips of your own!