This is a collaborative post.
A family budget is pretty crucial I think to ensuring you get the most out of your money. We seem to live in a culture and society that can’t really wait for anything and where everyone dreams of huge incomes. The truth is, living in such a consumerist society makes it incredibly easy to get into debt. I don’t think I know anyone that isn’t paying off a credit card, a store card, account, an overdraft or generally worried about money. Having a firm budget and sticking to it is absolutely key. Over the last few years I’ve been paying my way, budgeting, changing things around fiancially so that our future feels a little more secure however there were genuinely times where everything just felt like it was getting on top of me. I still worry about money but I’m a lot more sensible with it now and I think I spend it much more wisely. If you are worried about debt then you should seek debt help from the experts. There is help available to get you back on track which ultimately will make you feel much more comfortable about money.
September is always a month of getting back to routine for me but August and September can always be pretty expensive months. Firstly, it’s my daughters birthday right at the start of the school term so our family budget needs to be flexible. There are also things I need to buy to prepare for my daughter getting back to school. This year Adam is also going back to college which come with it’s own financial requirements as he will need his own supplies. A few other changes may result in us needing to pay out for breakfast club or some childcare so we also need to financially prepare for that and fit it into our budget. I’ve really been working on how I earn and how we spend money this year to try and prepare us for a back to school budget. I wanted to share some top tips on how I budget this extremely busy time of year for us as a family and share some top tips to help with your family budget too.
- Use Up Giftcards. Giftcards and vouchers seem to be a bit hit and miss but if you have any stuffed in the back of your purse from a birthday it’s worth checking the balance and see if you can use them towards back to school items, clothing or if you have any gifts to buy for yourself. I save up my vouchers to use for Evie’s birthday gifts because it free’s up the cash in the bank and stops me having to splurge on the cards.
- September Birthdays & Practical Presents. If like us you have a start of term baby, or even an August baby, asking family for practical gifts is a great idea. Things like a lunchbox, new backpack, waterbottle, stationary, a new autumn coat even make excellent gifts for this time of year and there are some really lovely options around. At least with things like a new coat, wellies or stationary they won’t feel as boring as other school supplies so that mum guilt won’t rear it’s ugly head and you can focus on spending money on things that they will enjoy.
- Shop Around for School Uniform. Gone are the days where you have to buy all uniform at the school shop. I love that supermarkets have a great range of back to school clothing these days and you can get so much for under £10. Most supermarkets I’ve seen have the range of colours for the town I live in so that all the schools are covered and there aren’t really any rules on the children having to wear the school logo. It’s really good that there is some flexibility.
- Sell Old School Uniform. If your child has grown out of some of their uniform and it’s in good condition consider selling it online on eBay or in Facebook groups. You may even have a friend in need who will be starting school this year and on a budget themselves. This way you can raise some funds for any bits that you need and make some space too. I find decluttering really relaxing and it gives me a bit of an energy boost when I see things clearing out of the home. If you haven’t got any uniform to sell as it’s the first time your child is going to school then perhaps try selling other older belongings that you no longer use.
- Slow Cooking. I love my slow cooker and oh Autumn is the perfect time for slow cooking. I love throwing all those yummy veggies and meat in together and at the end of the day having a delicious, hearty, home cooked meal with the family. You can make cheap cuts of meat and any odd vegetables taste delicious with a slow cooker. It really complements a budget lifestyle because you can do so much with it.
- Meal Planning. Meal planning is a brilliant way to budget and a great way to try new recipes too. Planning the meals out as a family, making a shopping list and shopping at Lidl or Aldi has probably saved us hundreds of pounds this year. We can buy two weeks worth of meals from these supermarkets for around £60 which is a budget I am really, really happy with. With my daughter being in Infant school she still qualifies for a free hot lunch which is brilliant. It means we don’t have to increase our monthly shopping budget for packed lunches and I know she gets a tasty hot meal every day.
- Re-use What You Can. This year there’s no need for a new lunch box or water bottle like there was last year so Evie will be using the same again for school trips.
- Use Social Media To Get Good Deals. There may be friends selling things like never worn shoes. If you can find it cheaper online then go with that option. I’ve sorted out a lovely pair of shoes for Evie this year as I saw a friend selling her daughters on. They’re in great condition and it’s saved me £20 buying them brand new.
- Keep Track. I have a budget planner where I write down everything that comes in and goes out of our accounts. I keep receipts for my business in here too so it keeps them save and I do regular audits to see if there are things I can cut out that we don’t need each month. All this is then transferred onto a spreadsheet with renewal dates for insurances, subscriptions and contracts so that I can look for the best deals when I need to switch things around.
There really are a lot of things to consider when it comes to budgeting and getting ready to go back to school. How do you financially prepare for it?