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Saving money and increasing income

How do I save money while raising a family?

The time raising children can be one of the most expensive periods in your life, especially if you’re dealing with debt or have a limited income. However, there are ways to save money.

By understanding your budget you can save money on your living costs and other expenses. Budgeting can help reduce stress over money, allowing you to focus on the ones you love the most.

Regularly review your budget

Understanding what you and your family are spending each month is the first step to taking control of your finances.

Regularly writing down all of your priority bills, living expenses, income and debts in a budget form can be a massive help when raising a family. A budget helps you track of keep track of where your family’s money is going every month, as well as helping you to plan for any future expenses such as school uniforms and Christmas.

Our guide can help you to put your budget together.

If you’re dealing with debt or have a limited income, you may be tempted to drastically reduce your living costs beyond what you need each month. Please don’t do this – it’s very important that your budget is realistic. Whatever your financial situation, your family’s wellbeing always come first.

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Work out how to save money on household bills

Think about expenses such as your phone bill, utility provider and broadband. Is there a way you could reduce the cost of your bills?

For example, many people save money when they have a water meter. You may also find that you’re paying more than you need on monthly contracts such as your mobile phone and broadband. If that’s the case, you could potentially get a cheaper service elsewhere.

Budgeting tip: With utilities, make sure you’ve budgeted for the amount you’re actually spending, rather than the estimated amount.

Regularly compare what you pay now to what competitors are offering. Check if it’s worth switching to a new service at least once a year. You might be surprised by how much money you could save.

Save money on food by planning ahead and batch cooking

By planning your meals, you can save time and energy as well as money. Try cooking enough food to cover your meals for a number of days, and freeze it for when you need it.

Get the whole family involved in meal planning. It’ll help your kids understand how to save money and prepare healthy meals.

Before going food shopping, make sure you write a shopping list of what you need. This’ll help to prevent impulse buys because “if it’s not on the list, we don’t need it”.

Budgeting tip: Keep your receipts and compare what you’re spending against what you expected to spend. Then you can be sure you’re allowing the right amount of your shopping every month.

For more great tips on food shopping on a budget, read our guide on how to save money on meals and your food shopping.

If you ever find yourself struggling to cover the cost of your family meals emergency help with money and food is available.

Explore ways to save money on clothes

Your children will go through a lot of clothes over the years, but there are ways to save money as they grow:

Budgeting tip: Try setting some money aside each month for when you’ll need to buy new school uniforms. If you’re on a long-term debt solution, there’ll be an amount in your budget that’s allocated for costs like this.

  • Give second hand shops a chance. Most charity shops will only take good-quality clothes. If you’re lucky, you can often find clothes that are brand new, sometimes even with the original tags.
  • Buy ‘pre-loved’ clothes in ‘job lots’. People often sell off their children’s clothes online in bulk as a means to get rid of it quickly. This means that you could potentially get several outfits for a fraction of the original price.
  • Find out if you’re eligible for help. Some schools have schemes in place in order to help struggling families. Ask your school if they have any kind of assistance in place, and if you might be able to apply.

Looking to save money on clothes for the whole family? Our guide can help.

Prepare early to save money for birthdays, Christmas and other occasions

It can seem like birthdays and Christmas get more expensive each year. Planning ahead and setting a limit on how much money you spend on presents can really help during these fun but expensive times of the year.

Budgeting tip: if you use our free budgeting template, there’ll be a section on sundries and emergencies. It’s here that you can set aside a realistic amount of money each month towards Christmas and birthdays.

Find free or cheap ways to keep the kids entertained

Many parents worry that they’ll struggle to pay for days out and fun activities. 

Budgeting tip: going to the cinema with a baby or toddler? Some cinema chains offer free screenings to parents of babies and toddlers for films with a U, PG or 12 rating.

To try to save money:

  • Look on your local council website. Many local councils will put on free family events during school breaks. Do research a couple of weeks before the school break is due to start, and see if you can fill the calendar with fun and free activities.
  • Visit your local SureStart centre. They often have play areas and schemes available for children under 5. You can find your local SureStart centre on the government website.
  • Talk to other parents. Many other mums and dads will be looking to save money over the school break. Talk with them and see if they have any activities planned that you and your children could get involved in. There are mobile phone apps that can help you connect with other local parents.
  • Talk to your child’s school. They may have extra activities planned for children over the school break, or could help you find something fun and educational for the kids to take part in locally.
  • Look out for promotional offers. Some newspapers and popular food and drinks brands will run discounts and special offers on theme park tickets, camping breaks and more.

Looking for budgeting and money-saving ideas for parents?

Our blog MoneyAware has lots of great tips and information to help parents save money:

I’ve got a newborn/toddler. How can I save money?

Adapting your budget to the arrival of your baby can be tough. 

Here are some tips to make it easier:

  • Claim your free ‘baby box’. Are you based in England or Scotland? All residents are entitled to a free box full of essentials for their newborn baby. Inside are clothes, bathing items and more. You can sign up for your baby box online or speak to your midwife.
  • Register for retailers that specialise in baby clothes. Some of them will give you a discount on future purchases by signing up.
  • Be clear on what your baby needs. The NHS Choices site has a handy list of essentials, such as formula, nappies and a car seat. If it’s not on this list, chances are you might not need it straight away.
  • Ask if your council has a free nappy scheme. A number of councils give free nappies to new parents.
  • Get free dental care. All new or expecting mums in the UK are entitled to free dental care until your baby is 12 months old. You may also qualify for free eye tests and prescriptions. Talk to your GP or midwife for more information.
  • Apply for help with childcare costs. Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for help. Find out more information and apply through the government website.
  • Find out what benefits you’re entitled to. Every year, people in the UK miss out on billions of pounds in benefit money that they’re entitled to. Our free online benefits calculator can tell you what you can claim.
  • Make sure you get the money you’re entitled to during maternity leave. If you've worked for the same company for longer than six months, your earnings were at least the lower earnings limit for the tax year, and you take time off work when your baby's born, your employer must pay you while you’re on leave. The Government pages on maternity pay and leave or adoption pay and leave have more information.
  • Get help when you need it. While your health visitor should help with any questions you have, there are also specialist numbers you can call for more information and support. Find out more on the NHS website.

I’m in debt and raising a family. What can I do?

If you’re struggling to cover your children’s living costs due to debt, use our free online debt advice tool. It’ll provide you with free, impartial debt advice and a recommendation of a debt.

Alternatively, you can talk about your debts over the phone with one of our friendly advisors. If you don’t feel that you have a debt problem but can only afford the minimum payments on debt such as credit cards, overdrafts and catalogue accounts, then you may need to talk to your creditors about your options. 

When you’re unable to pay more than the interest and charges on a credit card, overdraft and catalogue account for a period of 18 months, this is classed as a ‘persistent debt’. At this stage, your creditor may ask you to increase your monthly payments. Ultimately, they may remove your access to that credit.

Our guide tells you what you can do to pay off a persistent debt. You’ll also find information on how our dedicated advice team can help you with persistent debt.

Helping you become debt free...

“I wish to thank your staff for all the great help they gave me when I was in so much debt.
They were a pillar of support to me.” (Leslie, Essex)

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