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8 Crucial budgeting tips for parents with young families

Family | 1 October 2021

We get it – kids can be expensive and family life is tough on your expenses.

Before kids, maybe you didn’t worry too much about money or feel the need to budget. But once kids come along, everything changes and now you have a whole family to look after, often with the same income, the same savings and the same take home pay.

It starts with endless nappies, doctor visits, and baby gear. Before long it’s toys, clothes, and food – so much food! You’ll soon notice your savings account diminishing.

We understand how important it is for parents with young families to save money rather than spend money. And there are plenty of places to tighten the purse strings and save with smart money management and creating a family budget. You just have to get creative with your budget template.

If you have young kids at home, check out these 8 crucial budgeting tips we’ve prepared for you to create and stick to a family budget and ensure positive financial health without a financial adviser.

1. Actually create a family budget

The most crucial tip is to actually work through the process of building a family 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 with a budget template before you start spending.

Look at how much money you’ll make in the upcoming month from your bank statements, and create a family budget 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 money on everything you budgeted for entertainment, skip the movies until next month. This is how a family budget should work and this is how you end up saving money – increasing your financial health with a budget template that helps you save your money instead of spending it.

2. Use a budgeting philosophy

If you’re new to budgeting, it might be a little overwhelming having to create a family budget. The good news is you can use one of the budgeting systems and tools developed by experts to enhance your financial health.

For example, consider the 50/30/20 budget plan, developed by Harvard bankruptcy expert and American politician Elizabeth Warren. To see a saving, 50% of your income to needs (like bills and housing), 30% to wants (hobbies, dining out), and 20% to savings. This is the basis to start an affective family budget.

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 of your income will go each pay period before you spend any of the money sitting in your savings account.

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 pay down debt or to money in your savings account. This is a good way to manage your finances, keep track of expenses based on your income and pay slip and ultimately better manage your money.

One great app for budgeting is MoneyBrilliant – it will really help you revise your spending habits and kick financial goals, regardless of the financial institution you use.

4. Eat at home

Every little bit of budget helps. You can’t avoid fixed expenses like school fees, health insurance and medical bills but what you can do is look at how much you spent at restaurants and cafes last month. If you could divide that by three and pocket the difference, would that help you meet your budget template goals and spend your money more wisely? Less expenses means more of your income can be put towards crucial expenses like bills, loans or even investments.

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 start saving. This becomes even more effective toward your financial goals when you have a whole family to feed. Spending habits are critical to control your expenses and ultimately budget better, spending less.

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 supermarket are cheaper than takeaway, 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. This will help you avoid unexpected expenses in your budget.

6. Grow your own food

Growing your own food can also save you lots of money and avoid spending more at the supermarket. 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 entertainment 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? Is it an expense you can live without in the family home and lower the amount of bills you have in your budget?

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. Cutting down critical costs helps drive down your expenses, stick to your budget and keep money aside for must-haves like insurance which you have to be able to afford even when the bills come in and the expenses are piling up in your budget.

Wrapping up

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