Guest blogger Alex from Young Mummy Survival Guide is mum to 3-year-old Lily, is about to start her third year of university and is also planning her wedding, so she knows a thing or two about budgeting! We asked her for top tips on saving those pennies when you’re a young parent…
I am one of those individuals that will budget to an inch of my life. I like to know what’s being paid when, how much and what I have left over. Even now, as a student and mother, I budget what feels like every aspect of my life.
This morning, I have just been through and budgeted my life up until Christmas. It’s made me really sit down and think about the future. This is my last year at university and I am worried about what will happen to my family afterwards.
The money I get from my student loan has really been essential to me being able to go to university and to also keep our life together. I’m now worried about what is going to happen once that’s finished. Will I be able to get a job? What if I apply for a lot and get nothing? What am I going to do?
As parents, we also have the added pressure of not wanting our child to miss out on anything and making sure they have what they need and children’s shoes and clothes aren’t cheap. I know that I always panic when it comes to my daughter’s birthday and Christmas. I always want they day to be special, but I’m also aware that I’m not a millionaire and need to really plan ahead.
Budget, budget, budget… and save!
It sounds odd but budget, budget, budget is always a good motto but it’s missing one word…SAVE!
By working out what you have going out, what you can live on in a week and what you actually have, you can easily start to put money aside for later. Even if your math skills aren’t as great as Voderman’s like myself, you can still work out a simple plan.
It’s all about balance.
You need to make sure you have enough to pay your bills and eat as well as all the extra things that your family loves to do.
For example, I know from experience that it’s easy to forget subscription payments such as Netflix & Glossybox and find themselves down a bit at the end of the month when these go out. Once you have that balance mastered, you can start to save small bits here and there.
By saving you give yourself a bit of breathing space, something which I now value more than before. As well as being a mother and student, I am also going to be a bride next year and money is at the forefront of my thoughts and by sharing some of my money saving tips with you and hearing some of yours, we can all make it a bit easier for ourselves.
Alex’s tips for saving and budgeting money
1. Keep track of your spending
Watch what you are spending, especially is your starting to work out your finances more regularly. This will give you an idea of how much you spend on food shopping, fuel and other expenses and show you where you could save.
2. Be realistic
Be realistic with what you can and can’t afford. I try and remember this at times such as Christmas as it can be easy to get swept up in what our children want and the magic of it all.
The key things to avoid during holidays are grottos, egg hunts and so on. Of course budget in for a trip to one, but don’t get too swept up in visiting several. I did this during my daughters first Christmas and was left quite a bit out of pocket!
3. Set saving goals
I have come across quite a few different saving lists on social media. They’re similar to those workout challenges like “30 day sit up challenge”. They work by you saving a little more each week.
You start by putting £1 in your savings jar or account, then week 2 you add £2, then £10 and so on. It’s a great little idea and can work with commitment to it.
4. Don’t be scared to ask for help!
This is probably the hardest thing to do. There is a still a big stigma that comes with claiming benefits and being a young parent. Whether you’re working, are still in education or just need a little bit of help, find out if you’re entitled to anything.
Most of us will be able to claim child benefit. It isn’t a lot, but it really does help. During Lily’s first year, I was a stay-at-home mum and this little bit of extra money helped me get all her milk and nappies. If you’re not sure what you are entitled to, take a look on the Citizens Advice website or ask at your local children’s centre.
Read about more of Alex’s adventures as she starts her third year of university at her blog Young Mummy Survival Guide.