Here are easy tips that can make a difference to your budget with minimal effort: (even if you only do one or two).
1. Give yourself an allowance. – Don’t bury your head in the sand, work out exactly what money you have and give yourself a strict allowance of what is spare each week. As far as you can, stick to it. This will make a HUGE difference to stopping debt.
2. Lose the luxuries – If money is tight don’t meet friends for coffees or just grab a sandwich and juice after the park. Lunch and 2 coffees each week can add up to a conservative £400! In a year and for a tiny bit of effort making up a flask and a sarnie that is a bit silly!
3. Check your utilities. Don’t put it off any longer. Do compare prices online or even ring up your current provider and ask for a better deal. We recently called Orange and got an extra 100 minutes, 1000 texts and a new phone with email for the same monthly price I was already paying!
4. Create a gift drawer…this will really help with birthdays and next Christmas. Last summer ASDA had an offer on large sets of artists pencils £1 a set I bought 10 and these made fab Christmas gifts. Vista print (www.vistaprint.co.uk) did a personalised calico bag offer in Sept £2.98 inc. P+P each. I got one done for all my female relatives with their children’s names on and popped them in my drawer till Christmas. Gifts my children have already or which are really unsuitable (and can’t be returned) also get popped in this drawer (with a tag saying who bought it!) It makes a big different to collect gifts through the year,
5. Use the skills you have to make trades. I swapped one of my books for a beautiful bag for my daughter at Christmas, I have a friend who cuts hair in return for baby sitting, my husband mends friends computers and we get out our house painted. Skill sharing is as old as the hills but completely removes the need for money. Community needs to be the new currency. Be brave and make the first suggestion.
6. Be creative – Have your children make cards – it keeps them busy and helps them develop their creativity and saves you around £100 a year + everyone prefers a home made card
7. Be resourceful – old salad can become toasted salad sandwiches for lunch the next day, cook a cupful of extra pasta and knock together a quick pasta salad for tomorrow. Have an old cot? Get it sold through the newspaper or on ebay and put the money towards the new cot bed you need. Waste is waste and there are many things we can do with what we have. Oxfam swappit parties are a great idea choose a them e.g. books and ask your friends over with all their unwanted adult and children’s books, spread them out in your lounge, grab a drink then you can all go shopping for free in your lounge! Being green is often the economical option.
8. Still treat yourself, but differently – a big hot bath, a pile of new library books, an evening walk by the river, a cuddle, a love note in your partners pack up, giving a massage, setting up a treasure hunt for your kids. …nice things need not involve money and treats just need thought.
9. Make smart choices e.g. if you want to go the gym do you really need to go to a slimming class too. Your local gym will weigh you and probably offer a nutrition program. If you are invited to a wedding overseas that would involve all your holiday budget for the year and says no kids say NO, make them a home movie for next to nothing, write them a very special letter to be read at the reception and send encouraging emails up the day. When budgeting sometimes you have to choose and you have o say NO.
10. Bring it back to basics –
· Have fiends to yours for tea and have everyone bring a dish instead of going out for a fancy meal
· Socialise through a book club or start power walking with friends wine and coffee a re not why we meet friends they are just an expensive by product
· For your child’s birthday have a huge picnic in your garden and get out all your toys kids totally know how to entertain themselves and an entertainer can set you back £100.
· Don’t have fancy hair-dos keep your cut and colour simple and as close to natural as possible do you have less need to spend hours and pounds at the hairdressers.
Good luck and happy budgeting new year!