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Family Budgeting Tips

Family Budgeting Tips

Family life has been one long lesson in how to stretch, save, and budget the resources we have. I think over the years I have read every piece of advice on how to make the families pennies go that little bit further. Being self employed monthly income fluctuates, making it hard- if not impossible- to formally budget. Here are some of the tips I have learnt along the way, divided into the different areas of family financial life!

The Big Things

I have a spreadsheet with all the direct debts that have to be paid each month. I know how much will come out when. I then look at the incomings, and lay aside the sums required throughout the month. Missing direct debts is a costly business! It is vital mortgages, council tax, etc are covered. These things affect your credit score if they are not covered. And credit scores follow you around for years. Deal with the big things first. What is left is what you have to live on- if you like it or not!


The brand challenge is quite famous now, as a way or reducing food bills: the idea is if you normally buy the premium brand, go down to the next cheapest, and so on. Most people find that going from Heinz, say, to Tesco, is not a problem and saves money.
I also suggest the Supermarket challenge! If you are use to Sainsbury try Tesco, if you shop in Asda go to Lidle. I started to shop in Lidle, and found an impressive reduction in my shopping bill. Like the going down a brand I tested the products bit by bit, and discovered the prices may be less, but the quality is not necessarily inferior. In fact Lidle’s nappies are better and cheaper than Tesco (in my opinion). There are still items I cannot buy in Lidle, or prefer from Tesco (Tesco is our closest, so naturally the supermarket I would use!) so I do one Tesco shop a month, and stock up on those items, and buy the rest from Lidle.
Make a meal plan. I do not always do this, when I don’t I usually end up doing extra “little” trips to the shops, and usually buy things I don’t need! Having an idea what I need for a weeks meals reduces what you spend.
Cook from scratch! And don’t buy shop cakes and biscuits: make your own, they are far cheaper and taste better. Try cheaper cuts of meat, casseroling them will make the meat tender. Add pulses to meals to reduce the amount of meat.
Think about meals that will make the family feel fuller longer. Then there is less snacking throughout the day.

Frugal Foods

    Porridge for Breakfast
    Soups for Lunch (especially with lentils, and pearl barley)
    Homemade bread, far more filling than the “loafs” bought in plastic bags.
    A roast: a large roast will do at least two meals, and therefore works out cheaper.


When you have a large family hand-be-downs are plain common sense. Do not throw away baby clothes until you are sure you have finished having children.
Ebay! Sell things you no longer want/need, keep the money in your Paypal account, and use it to buy clothes. I very rarely buy clothes for myself in shops. I have discovered I can buy quality labels for very little on ebay. A lot of the “cheaper” clothes in the shops are a false economy, buying a more expensive brand on ebay for children makes sense. For example a girls Next dress would cost around £20, you can pick on up on ebay for around £5 (including postage).


Keep an eye on what you are paying regularly check on the price comparison websites for better deals.
We recently switched to First Utility for our gas and electric. The customer submits their own meter readings, and you pay monthly what you have used- not the fixed direct debts most other companies use. The result has been we are more aware of what we actually use.

Family Outings

As parents we have a powerful role in fixing our children’s expectations. If you strive to take them to the cinema every month, they will expect that. There is a wealth of places in the UK to go as a family for free. Parks, beaches, hiking, museums, art galleries, woodland, adventure playgrounds, and botanical gardens. Tesco clubcard points can be used to exchange for family day outs to expensive places. Use money laid aside for family outings wisely.

Homeschool Curriculum

Buy a Kindle! In the long run it will be cheaper than the vast numbers of paper books, it also saves space! For text books always look on Amazon and ebay, as you may find what you are looking for second hand. Try to keep what you can for younger children. Have the child write answers in jotters, not the textbooks.
Make a workable plan of what you need! It is easy to look at what is available and buy things you will never need.

You can find many more budgeting and family money management tips on the Pinching Pennies website: a resource started to help families make the most of their cash.

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