With three children I often feel like mother duck, we sweep through places with me in front and children dragging behind. Some days I enjoy this, the days when I feel like a proper mum. Other days, its just a source of frustration and a reminder that the days of shopping at Liberty have been replaced with days shopping at Poundland.
We have less money than ever and despite the past few years of frugal living have had to become a bit more extreme with money saving.With this in mind I’ve been thinking and working on ways of scraping back even a few more pennies each week, things are getting extreme in my house, but there are a few simple obvious things which everyone could do (these might not be so obvious if you only have one child):
Toilet Roll: Lets face it, we might not buy top brands, but everyone likes a bit of softness. However, one thing is for sure; when your baby starts potty training till about 5 years at least they will use a lot of loo roll. My kids have flushed entire rolls down the toilet- leaving one end attached to the holder ‘for fun’, its not unusual to see the 3 year old wiping a tiny drip with half a roll. Its just what they do. Buy the cheapest economy bog roll you can find. If you cant stand this yourself, put it in the toilet the children use the most and save the better stuff for your bathroom (we have upstairs and downstairs). If not, put your own roll in the cupboard.
Potty Train early: Toilet roll costs aside, nappies, or washing disposables will cost a fortune after a while. Train as early as possible and that includes night-time if you can.
Swop juice for tap water: We don’t have any juice in our house, not only is it better for teeth you’ll save!
Buy bigger: You’ll always see my children in clothes a year older than their age, that way they last. I’m strangely pleased that the boy has had the same coat from reception till year 4, at about £30 a year thats saved me nearly £100!
Buy Non Branded Cereals: My kids eat the basic range cornflakes and weetabix- they don’t care and its what they are used to.
Don’t buy a nappy change bag: Complete waste of time, buy a bag you like yourself or a rucksack, you’ll get more use out of it in the long run.
Packed Lunch: With a toddler hanging off you its so easy to think that you’ll just buy them a kids lunchbox when they are out. This can be a massive drain on resources, and once they’ve done it once its a slippery slope. Always take your own food and drink.
Avoid coffee mornings: Coffee mornings with other mums can be good for your mental health, but actually are they as good as you think? Choose wisely, avoid mornings where its normal to appear with something and never, ever, go to a coffee shop if you can help it, as its twice as expensive with a toddler!
Use the library: The thing i’ve realised most in my decluttering is that long term there are very few board books and picture books that you would want to hold onto forever. Make good use of the library, not only is it a trip out, but over the course of a year you’ll save loads.
Reuse: Take everything and anything offered, kids grow out of clothes so quickly its wasteful to buy new ones which you’ll be taking to the charity shop months later.
Ban sweets: Bad for teeth and health but also a drain on money…
Don’t offer alternative meals: With one child I used to be so concerned about what he was eating and if it was enough that I’d often make him a special dinner or breakfast, buying special ingredients. Over a year this really added up. Now the children eat what they are given whether its a hot spicy curry or fish-fingers and they barely complain. If I have any left overs they go into the freezer and are used for those nights when I don’t have time to cook. Remember, baked beans on toast is a perfectly adequate meal, there is no need to panic and take them to a fast food place!
Use the park: Forget expensive memberships or entry fees, your toddler will get as much fun/ exercise and learning from a trip to the local park with the football than they will at any of these places. It never ceases to amaze me that people visit our local farm park regularly as a family for the soft play, paying a lot of money per trip or per month. Thats an expensive way to the pass the time, especially as many places don’t even allow you to eat your own picnic. Peer pressure encourages you to do it, rise above it.
These are just a few ideas, I’d love to hear anymore that you have so do leave me a comment. It might sound a bit strange but the toilet roll one has saves me a fortune over the past couple of years, its such an obvious thing but it had never occurred to me.