Let me be quite clear, this isn't about making money. It's not even about particularly going without. It may not be applicable to your situation or even you. But, having just looked at our accounts it seems that this is exactly what I have managed to do recently without even really noticing it. I should make it clear that we are a high income, low disposable income family due to mortgage commitments and our geographical location within the UK. We really are struggling financially and I am worried about the future should the government be radical about tackling national debt.
The main thing I have done is to ONLY Internet shop. Previously I would do a big shop in Sainsbury and then top up shops from Waitrose (it's literally two minutes from my door). We didn't eat particularly well and I was buying all the reductions etc. However, I think the problem lies in that I also bought the 'special offers' thinking I was saving money. It's not that we didn't eat them, we did. It's just that we didn't really need to eat them and I think this is where the issue lies. I also did a lot of proper home cooking using cookery books (such as Annbel Karmel's brilliant ones). However, the recipes always required the purchase of additional ingredients which were not part of our cupboard basics. Thus each meal cost more than it should.
Nowadays I Internet supermarket shop. That is it. If we don't have something that week, I don't go and get it. I might send the hubby for a pint of milk, but he is not allowed to return with additional products. We have healthy basic meals like jacket potatoes with cheese and beans, home made chicken pie (using frozen veg), spaghetti bolognaise as one pack of mince last two days and can then be used for a shepherds pie, fish-fingers, home made pizza and NO takeaways of any sort. Unless, its fruit, ice-cream or yogurt we don't have dessert.
In terms of saving other money, we recycle as much water as we can (we have always done this) and don't flush the loo at night. Although this is more for environmental reasons than any other.
I've been keeping clothes shopping on-line (save one trip to John Lewis). This allows me to 'buy' items and then cool off and not actually buy them. I have made a few bits for the kids, but to be honest I am making sure they get every last scrap of wear out of what they have. That's not really a change as I have been doing this for a while, but I think its worth stating.
No toys have been purchased for a very long time. However, this month I have put a lot of things away for rainy days and the living room also looks better. I think this has helped my mental state. We don't buy magazines or newspapers or have a television package. However, I've discovered that friends can be generous at passing them on and the iplayer is an endless source of things to watch.
The other big saving has been on petrol, yes, the pox helped as we couldn't go out. However, it also made me realise that there are plenty of things to do at home. We don't need to go out all the time and I don't need to constantly take the kids on educational outings. We actually do plenty of stuff on a daily basis, what's more, we are lucky to have a lot of great free things to do within walking distance. I have even stopped taking them to weekly classes such as music and swimming which has had a dramatic impact. At between £5- £6 per child I guess it would! They are not missing out as I we have impromptu music sessions and the hubby goes swimming with them. If we visit friends we don't take cakes and biscuits (unless we have spare). I don't think anyone has minded.
Other savings have been on presents for friends and family. I think that we have been too generous in the past given our financial situation. I realise that people don't mind if they just get a hand-made card and some home-made cakes or a home-made dress or even the offer of us to do something for them, like help with DIY or look after the children. Children have no idea about how much something cost, as long as it's appropriate the cheaper toy is probably as good as the more expensive. Nowadays most people have everything they want, apart from time to themselves, if we can offer that, that's a great gift.
Toddler boy no longer needs nappies, and although I purchased own brand ones (I think they are as good if not better). This has had an impact, I also forgot to buy some more for Fifi one week so didn't change her at the first sign of wetness. I think this has had a small impact on the overall shopping bill.
It's not like we were living particularly well before and not realising it, because I don't think we were. Yet, I don't think I realised how much the little things like biscuits, sweets and petrol added up, however much I tried to see it through spreadsheets and so forth. I have begun to appreciate being at home instead of going out. Cooking very very basic meals and not having desert saves a fortune and is probably healthier. What's more, it's definitely much better to buy one really nice thing you like than several cheaper ones.I look at it this way, £200 per month is a lot of cash, but that's £50 per week, not a great deal in the overall scheme of things, given how much things cost these days. My advice; watch out for the small things...