Budget tips for parents
Research shows that in the first year alone, parents can expect to splash out over £7,000 on their little one. Sounds daunting doesn't it? Many parents will be going from two incomes to one income and costs are going to go through the roof so it can be a very stressful time. Money coach Olwen Jones is confident that little savings made now can make a big difference in nine months time. Here's what she thinks you should be doing.
First thing to do is get a spending diary, get a cheap little note book and write down everything - every little penny, every chocolate bar, every coffee, every magazine, every golf session. Write it all down and you'll be horrified at how much the little things add up to.Make yourself a cup of tea, sit down with your partner and work out your fixed outgoings, things like your electricity and your broadband. Go through everything and think ‘Is there a way I can get this cheaper?' The biggest savings are on things that you spend every month like your food. Meal planning can be a fantastic way to save an absolute fortune. Pick your five favourite meals, write them down and buy what you need to make those. Just do it for one week and see how you go. Even planning one or two meals a week can reduce your outgoings.
Review your credit cards
Look at your credit cards, look at the APR, get out your statements and read the small print. Look at the balance transfer and what new credit card offers are out there. Know what you're paying out - get advice, go on to moneysupermarket.com and get informed.
Direct debit will save you money but it'll also save you time. If you can pay by direct debit just do it. Some people will penalise you for not paying by direct debit.
Is it easy to reduce costs?
According to Olwen it is. It can absolutely be done. The main thing to remember is every saving you make is effectively an extra income. If you want your SKY subscription go ahead but call SKY and threaten to leave - they'll offer you a discount to stay.
Know your rights
Make sure you're getting all the benefits you‘re entitled to. Discuss maternity leave details with your employer if you work, so that you can calculate how much time you can afford to take off. Get on to your HR department at your work and just get yourself up to date and informed. Fight for yourself, go in and make sure you get what you're entitled to.
Olwen also advises looking on the internet. A fantastic website is turn2us.org.uk it'll tell you what benefits you're potentially entitled to.
Be a smart saver
Start putting some money aside. Even a few pounds a month between now and the baby's birth will be useful. Advises Olwen: "The first thing to do is make sure you're using your ISA allowance - that's tax free. Putting away 10, 20, 50 pounds a month would be a fantastic way of putting something away so you don't spend it on chocolate biscuits or something. Even if it's only a small amount it really mounts up."
Olwen's Top Tips (Summarised)
No.1 Get organised, sit down and go through all your credit card statements and bank accounts.
No.2 Get on the internet and see if you can get anything cheaper.
No.3 Maximise your income, get everything you're entitled to.
No.4 Get on ebay - sell your junk.
No.5 Plan your meals
No.6 Be flexible, take baby steps and do one thing at a time.