Managing a Household Budget

Since I was made redundant financially things have been a little bit tight here, we don’t have any savings to fall back on or any credit cards so we have to be very careful with our household budget. We’d love to save a little but its proving hard as unexpected expenses seem to come along each month wiping out any savings we make.

I cant imagine how hard it must be to save for a deposit for a house. We are exceptionally lucky as we already have a mortgage and its associated equity, but I’m not sure how my children are going to fare. One of my on going concerns is whether or not we should start trying to save, not for us, but for our children’s deposits. I’m also wondering whether or not we should downsize and move to the countryside and the impact that might have on our mortgage and associated quality of life. If you are thinking of the same sort of scenarios and are wondering whether or not it is cheaper to rent or get a mortgage the TSB’s mortgage repayment calculator is a really handy on line tool to see how much your repayments might be.

Anything related to having a roof over your head requires a little bit of cash though and I think over the years I’ve managed our budgets reasonably well all things considered! TSB offered me some vouchers to help with Christmas in exchange for telling you my top tips for managing a household budget so here goes:

1. Swop where you can to your favourite supermarket’s own brand products. I’ve tried shopping at cheaper shops but to be honest they don’t generally sell what we eat, sell smaller portions or I end up buying other stuff I don’t need. I’ve found it more economical to go to my usual supermarkets and buy their own brand basics range of stuff like pasta, breakfast cereals, cakes, toilet roll and dishwasher tablets.

2.Use up all the food in your cupboards before you shop.

3. Freeze anything that’s left over. I’m always freezing pasta, cheese and milk before it goes out of date. Make use of your garden to grow veg and preserve it if you have a glut to use later in the year.

Green tomatoes make excellent chutney!

4. Turn off lights, use the dryer less and stop flushing the loo unless necessary.

5. When buying clothes only buy the stuff you really like and you know will get worn even if its more expensive. Less is more! I also only buy classic clothes as these will last me for years.

6. Get membership of your favourite attractions for Christmas/ Birthdays. We are members of English Heritage and London Zoo and its saved us a fortune on days out as we always have somewhere to go which is ‘free’, provided you take a flask and food.

7. Recycle those kids party presents and make good use of discount book retailers like The Book People to stock up on stuff.

8. Be sure to use the on-line library services for access to loads of free magazines each month and look out for free kindle book deals alongside making full use of your library.

9. Make a spreadsheet list of what you are spending and categorise it. That way you’ll see where there are savings to be made.

10. Try not to get too obsessed or too worried about it, life is for living and things usually work themselves out in the end!

Its also a good idea to keep an eye out on Freecycle and share as much as you can with friends and family, that goes for stuff, ideas and also parties etc. I think that managing a household budget effectively requires quite a pragmatic approach. For example, for us, it isn’t any good doing rigid meal planning because with three children life is very fluid, its far better for us to make good use of the freezer for left overs and have emergency meals in there. In terms of charity shopping, I’d exercise caution, it isn’t thrifty to buy stuff you don’t need because its a cheap bargain. Personally I don’t usually go into any shop unless I’m going specifically to buy something and that has probably saved more money than if I was going around trying to find bargains or ‘browsing’ in charity shops.

What do you think. Do you agree with me? What are your tips? I’d love to hear, please leave me a comment.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post.

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