8 Crucial budgeting tips for parents with young families

Family | 7 February 2019

We get it – kids can be expensive…

Before kids, maybe you didn’t worry too much about money or feel the need to budget. But once kids come along, everything changes.

It starts with endless nappies, doctor visits, and baby gear. Before long it’s toys, clothes, and food – so much food!

We understand how important it is for parents with young families to save money. And there are plenty of places to tighten the purse strings and save. You just have to get creative.

If you have young kids at home, check out these 8 crucial budgeting tips we’ve prepared for you.

1. Actually create a budget

The most crucial tip is to actually work through the process of building a budget.

Sometimes you’ll hear the term “budgeting” when people really just mean being frugal or saving up some money. But real budgeting is more than this – it’s the process of creating a spending plan before you start spending.

Look at how much money you’ll make in the upcoming month, and create a plan for how much you’ll allow yourself to spend in various categories (after covering your essential bills, of course).

Then stick to it! If you’ve already spent everything you budgeted for entertainment, skip the movies until next month.

2. Use a budgeting philosophy

If you’re new to budgeting, it might be a little overwhelming. The good news is you can use one of the budgeting systems and tools developed by experts. For example, consider the 50/30/20 budget plan, developed by Harvard bankruptcy expert and American politician Elizabeth Warren. 50% of your income to needs (like bills and housing), 30% to wants (hobbies, dining out), and 20% to savings.

3. Adopt a zero-based budget

Take budgeting a step further by adopting a zero-based budget. This kind of budgeting means you plan out where every dollar will go each pay period before you spend any of it. It’s called zero-based budgeting because you should have zero unclaimed dollars at the end of each pay period. Anything you don’t spend goes to paying down debt or to savings.

One great app for budgeting is MoneyBrilliant.

4. Eat at home

Look at how much you spent at restaurants and cafes last month. If you could divide that by 3 and pocket the difference, would that help you meet your goals?

A meal in a restaurant is often 3 times the cost of making it yourself! Develop the habit of cooking at home and see how much you save.

5. Plan out your meals

Eating at home is a big step, but it also helps to plan. Premade or half-prepared meals from the grocery store are cheaper than takeout, but they’re more expensive than raw ingredients.

Planning your meals also helps you avoid impulse buys because you can buy only what you know you’ll need. And it reduces waste. For example, you’re unlikely to use a whole bag of carrots in one meal, so plan 2 meals involving carrots before you buy.

6. Grow your own food

Growing your own food can also save you lots of money. This tip isn’t just for those with acres of tillable land, either. Some vegetables can be grown in pots in your kitchen, and some can even grow from the leftover bits, with a little effort. Buy green onions or lettuce once, and grow your own for years to come.

7. Scale back on subscriptions

Do you know how much you’re spending on digital subscriptions each month? A recent survey found that 84% of people underestimate this figure. Do a subscriptions inventory and make some tough calls. For example, how many video and audio streaming services do you have? Can you get by with less?

8. Use a low-cost mobile phone provider

Your mobile phone service is another area in which people overspend without thinking. Look at your most recent bill. If you’d like it to be smaller, check out the low-cost options available on the market such as our mobile bundle deals here at MATE.

Wrapping up

Raising young kids on a budget is hard work, but getting control of your money is rewarding! Use these 8 tips to help yourself worry less about money and enjoy your kids more.