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Ways to help a family on a budget

Updated on January 29, 2014

Where do you start

Hello there reader and welcome. I can only presume that you are reading this because at this present moment in time things are not particularly good with your finances, and you are probably having to budget your money and look at ways in which you can spend less and live more.

I will not kid you, managing your money is not easy, especially if you have bills/debts to pay and only a limited amount of money coming in, especially if you are not used to budgeting your money. There is much advice available on the world wide web helping and advising on how to limit your outgoings and save money, but the truth is that for many saving is impossible and cutting back on spending is not easy either. Hopefully, by just following some of these simple ideas you will be able to pay of some of those debts and start to save money or at least live more comfortably.

So how do you go about living on a budget?

  1. The first thing that you must do, which does sound rather patronising at times, is to sit down and work out what your household expenses are. These should include all your bills for a month, your total grocery allowance done at the supermarket, fuel for cars, mobile phone and TV etc. Do not leave anything out no matter how trivial it seems.
  2. You need to work out what money you have coming in, which is generally quite easy, your wages/benefits.

Where can you save money?

Now that you have your total figures for household expenses and household income it should be easy to work out where to save your money. As a general rule there are not many people that actually manage to save money every month, but with a little bit of help and advice this can be achieved.

Where to start I here you say, well here is a few places you can start.

  • Grocery shopping is generally an area where most people can save money. Most people will insist that their grocery bill for a week is well in excess of £100 and that they cannot get it lower. This may be correct, but a family consisting of 2 adults and 2 children can average a total grocery bill of under £100 a week. The art of achieving this is to eat proper food that you cook yourself, like meat and vegetables with pasta and rice. Vegetables are cheap enough to buy fresh from the supermarket or from your local market and enough for a week should only cost around £10-£15. Meat can be expensive depending on what you buy, but butchers meat is sometimes cheaper and usually of a better quality. Depending on what cuts of meat you buy a butchers bill can be anywhere from £15-£30 a week. Plan your meals in advance so you know exactly what you need to buy and how much of it. Don't be embarrassed to ask your butcher what cuts of meat are cheaper, for example if you want to do a slow roast, you may get away with a joint of brisket beef which is cheaper than your more traditional topside roasting joint and your butcher will probably be glad of the chance to get rid of any off cuts he has floating around.
  • Make a list of what you actually need before you do your grocery shopping. Go through the house and check the cupboards to see what you really need and only replace the items that you have used. By making a list you help prevent the temptation of impulse buying.
  • Remember it is also important not to go shopping when you are hungry. This is not just a dieters saying, if you are hungry then you are more likely to pick things up that you fancy eating at the time, only thing is you most likely won't eat them.
  • Shop around, try out the different supermarkets. It may be that you would be better off shopping at 2 supermarkets instead of just 1.

Other ways of cutting your out goings!

  • In this day and age cars are an essential part of our life, but take a good look at how often you use your car, and whether it is really necessary. For example if you only live 2 miles from your local corner shop/post office or your butcher why go in the car, you could dust of your bike and use that. That would be saving 4 miles worth of fuel and helping you to keep fit and healthy as well. If your supermarket is near where you work then why not do your grocery shopping one night after work. This saves an extra journey of fuel.
  • Mobile phones seem to be another necessity these days, which many could probably live without. Try to remember that there was life before mobile phones. If you are paying for a contract phone usage see if you can cut it down to a pay as you go, and limit yourself to £10 a month to start with, and only use it for necessary calls/texts. If you generally text the same person try and get on the same network as them. Most networks have cheaper costs for same network calls/texts. If you need a larger contract phone check to see if you really need a landline. Internet packages are available without the use of a landline.
  • Your evening entertainment, the television showing all your favourite programmes. Unless you live in the minority you will probably have Sky satellite television. Take a good look at the package you have, I mean, after all you may have all the channels you could wish for, but you can only watch one at a time. You may like watching films, but would it not be cheaper perhaps to rent one from your local video store? You say that the children like watching their programmes; well with England now being digital Freeview has children’s channels as well. You could perhaps switch to Freeview which still has more than enough channels to watch + radio and music stations and all you pay is your tv licence. All televisions now come with either Freeview or Freesat so all you might need is a new aerial which costs less than a monthly Sky instalment.

Is the car really necessary, why not the bus?

  • With the cost of car fuel going up and up, one way of saving money on your fuel bill would be to take a good look at your local public transport. Even if you live out in a village, most have buses that get you into your local town by 8.30am and leave at 5.30pm. Remember return tickets are always available and generally cheaper. Many bus companies also do weekly tickets which can be shared by more than one person, so if you use the bus 3 days a week and another family member uses it the other 2 days then why not look at sharing a bus ticket.

Good luck on your journey

When you have looked at all the possible cut backs that you can make, it is time to start managing your money and putting everything that you have learnt into practice. Go to the bank and draw out, for example £150, and use this for your weekly grocery shopping and fuel allowance. You will soon learn to shop cheaper and use your car less. Check out different shops. Perhaps try shopping at another supermarket for a month to see if your monthly shopping bills are cheaper. Don't be afraid to experiment, but importantly you must remember to stay true to the cause and not spend more than you really have to.

I am proof that the weekly shopping can be done for under £100 pounds. My household consists of 2 cats, 2 children and a husband. I get all my meat and vegetables from my local Aldi and all skin care and laundry products from Asda. I shop just once a week with only occasionally needing to get extra milk or fruit. My monthly wage of £600 pays for diesel in mine and my husbands cars, grocery bill and anything else the children need like shoes (which have to come from Clarks). You have to be strong and disciplined but it can be done.


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