When you’re on a tight budget, it’s handy to arm your family with simple saving measures to keep the budget under control.
Try some of our tips to keep household and family costs from spiralling updwards.
Cut the cost of owning a car
1. If you have a six-cylinder fuel guzzler, down-size to a smaller car that’s cheaper to run.
2. If you have a second car, can you survive without it? Save on running costs plus maintenance and repairs by becoming a one car family.
3. Don’t drive if you can walk or catch public transport. It’ll save you money and will keep you fit.
4. When you fill-up the car, use regular fuel instead of the more expensive premium brand.
5. Check petrol prices online and buy fuel when and where it’s cheap, as long as it’s not a major diversion.
6. Regularly service your car to keep it running efficiently and to ensure no major (and costly) mechanical problems develop. Learn how to change a flat tyre so you don’t have to pay someone else to do it.
7. Resist the temptation to use a car wash – get out the bucket and sponge and do it yourself instead – or get the kids to do it!
8. Avoid speeding and parking tickets. They really can make driving expensive!
9. Ease the pressure on the household budget – and do your bit for the environment – by organising a car pool with a co-worker.
10. Gather a group of parents together and draw up a roster to share ferrying the kids around. You can take turns driving the kids to day care, doing school drop-off and pick up runs, or getting to and from after-school activities. Work out a timetable and then set up a group chat for you all so you can communicate at the same time and streamline the planning for car pool duties.
Save money on food
11. Buy supermarket own-brand or budget labels when choosing your grocery staples. They’re often just as good as the more expensive brands and will save you heaps.
12. Cut down on the amount of takeaway nights and cafe lunches that you’re indulging in. This is a huge dollar saver if you have a tendency to eat out a couple of times a week. Preparing meals in bulk and freezing them can help you avoid the last minute ‘what’s for dinnner?’ panic. If you really need a night off cooking, ask the kids to cook for the family one night a week.
13. If you have a household of meat eaters, introduce them to the delights of vegetarian meals for one or two nights a week. It is amazing how easy it is to swap out the meat in your family favourite dishes for vegetables, beans, or lentils.
14. Instead of going out with friends for expensive meals or drinks, entertain at home. Throwing a dinner party is so much fun and you can still whip up some cocktails!
15. Grow your own veggies. It’s not complicated to start a veggie garden and you will have fresh options right there in your backyard. Your grocery bill will thank you.
16. Drink more water. Soft drinks, coffee, juice, and alcohol are money guzzlers and water is better for you. Use a reusable drink bottle and fill up from the tap or a jug in the fridge if you prefer your water chilled. Add a squeeze of fruit juice if you crave a bit of flavour.
17. Make a meal plan before you shop. Figure out what you have already in the freezer, fridge or pantry that you can make a meal out of. Decide what all of your meals including breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks will be for the week (with a bit of leeway for THOSE days), then make your shopping list for only what you need. See our tips for meal planning.
Family budgeting tips
18. Try swapping to generic medicines. Sometimes it seems like you’re always at the GP with a sick child and the bills and prescriptions can add up. You may be able to save money using generic rather than name brand medicines for your children. Seek the advice of your family doctor or local pharmacist about switching to a generic brand.
19. Fix before you ditch! If your blouse has popped a button, or your jeans have a rip that shouldn’t be there, use your sewing skills to try a fix instead of buying new. If your skills need some updating, YouTube is a learner’s paradise!
20. DIY – save on paying for tradesmen by doing it yourself (within reason!). You will get an amazing sense of achievement by completing a project yourself and save a tonne in the process. DIY stores often have online videos or in-store pamphlets to set you on your way and staff can offer helpful advice.
21. Make your own cleaning products. There are lots of different easy-to-use recipes for natural cleaning products for all rooms of the home. Most people who’ve made the change to natural products swear that two common ingredients – bicarbonate soda and white vinegar – will do the job! To make an everyday cleaner, mix a small amount of bicarb soda with vinegar and keep the solution in a spray bottle.
22. Cancel those subscriptions you aren’t using. When was the last time anyone watched that streaming service you pay for every month or read that magazine that gets delivered? Assess what you don’t need and cancel before anyone notices!
23. Book hair and beauty appointments with students or trainees. Everyone deserves a little pampering now and then, but it need not blow a hole in your carefully crafted budget. Student hair and beauty salons are run by qualified beauticians and hairdressers who supervise students in their final year of training. Not all treatments will be available all of the time but you’ll get big discounts and may be able to plan return visits if finances allow.
24. You don’t need to spend a fortune to entertain the kids. Our beautiful country has a plethora of bushwalks, beaches, cycleways, parks and playgrounds to explore and local community groups often put on free events. Check with your local council for trails, walks and upcoming events. Kidspot’s destination guides include lots of free activity options.
This article was created by Kidspot Australia and edited by Kidspot NZ.