4 Tips for Freeing Up Your Finances

4 Tips for Freeing Up Your Finances

If you’ve been reading the blog you’ll know that in January I started a family Frugal Living challenge, aimed at cutting back waste, sorting our finances and putting more into our savings and pensions. It can be tricky to balance budgeting with raising a family. Financial security is important for everyone — especially those of us with children.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to manage costs as a parent. Here are four ideas that could help.

Plan Spending in Advance

To stay on top of your finances, why not plan all outgoings in advance? By doing this on a regular basis, you can avoid splashing out on products that you don’t need.

In turn, you could make massive savings. Store a simple cash flow document on your phone to make sure that you can view it anywhere. This way, you can instantly squash that desire to spend impulsively by seeing how it will affect you later in the month.

Instant mobile access is also useful if it feels like you rarely get five minutes to sit down at your laptop or tablet. Let’s face it, that description applies to most of us as parents. But you needn’t let your busy family life get in the way of managing your finances.

Work from Home

If you’re a stay-at-home parent and miss the thrill of work, don’t worry. You can easily transform a passion into a successful home-run business. In fact, self-employment has almost doubled over the past 18 years. As a result, there’s more support than ever available to people who want to make cash by doing what they love.

Do you want to free up your finances, get your teeth stuck into a long-term project, and be there to support the kids? If so, this could be the perfect money-making solution for you?  I’ve been a freelancer for nearly 13 years, 9 years full time which is something that I chose to do so that I could still earn and be flexible around my family’s needs.

Prepare for Rainy Days

Nobody knows what the future holds. Sometimes, darker periods can occur. And when they do, it’s useful to have a financial back-up in place. Should an event or issue affect your income, with savings you’re fully prepared to deal with it. With this contingency money, you and your family can remain financially secure whatever the circumstance.

In addition, putting aside small amounts for your retirement could help you to stay financially afloat well into the future. This is what we’re working hard on at the moment.

So long as you contribute regularly to your fund, there’s never been a better time to start saving than now.

Enjoy Free Activities and Days Out

I mentioned this briefly in my Frugal Living February Update blog post. Saving money doesn’t have to be boring and we don’t always need money to have a good time. Free days out can be fun for everyone.

What’s more, you won’t be paying to enter a popular destination – you’ll be doing whatever you’ve arranged solely as a family – so this is also likely to bring you all closer together.

Parenthood can be challenging enough without the stress of financial organisation. But when you know how, you can easily arrange your finances and attend to your family at the same time. Once you’ve dealt with the money side of things, you’ll be able to enjoy life to the full. And this will benefit everyone in the family.


Frugal Living 2019: Frugal February #1

Frugal Living 2019: Frugal February #1

For those just catching up, I posted last month about our Frugal Living 2019 challenge. Our first blog post laid out what we were hoping to achieve, how, why and what changes we’d already made. Have we kept it up and enjoyed a frugal February?

Frugal February

If you’ve read last month’s post you’ll have seen that we’d used a fab mobile mechanic to fix the car. Fast forward a month and the fixed car is no more. We bought a new one. Not really what you’d consider the most frugal choice at face value, however, something else fell off her, the MOT was due (it was going to be a big one, i.e. hundreds to get right) and we were fed up of the unreliability of the old girl. She had to go. We part-ex’d her and bought….. the Gingermobile (a bright orange Peugeot). Short term, a big spend, long term, cheaper to run, more reliable, easier to park ( we live in a Victorian terrace where everyone keeps a shoe horn and some goose grease in their car so they can park on a night) and the right choice. 

new car

We are Moving House

Bear with me. How is moving house a frugal choice? Short term is most certainly isn’t, although it depends on how you look at it. First of all… Happy New Home to us! We move in April. We are moving to the most glorious 1930’s bungalow, just a few streets away from where we are now and the benefits are many. There’s a gorgeous garden, a huge workshop for Roy, off-road parking, the house is character packed and perfect for our needs and we just aren’t happy where we are. We’re overlooked, parking is a nightmare, the traffic (considering this is a cul de sac!) is phenomenal and it just isn’t working for us. 

Moving-wise, we’re looking to do it on a shoestring, because we’re trying to save, not spend. We’ve quotes coming in from movers and van and man set-ups, and decluttering is ongoing! We’ll be donating a fair few items to a fab local social enterprise business called the Clockworks (I am on their steering group and have to say, the work they are doing is great) and selling other bits. I’ll write up a frugal moving post nearer the time.

Overall though, we are thrilled to be moving and besides, surely heating a bungalow should be cheaper than heating a breezy 3-floor terrace house? Right?

new house, frugal february

Using Cash

A top frugal February tip for you: Taking cash out for grocery spends has proven to be a winner. It turns out that you are much less likely to spend if you have to hand cash over rather than flash your contactless card at the till. Grocery shopping has long-since been a bone of contention when it comes to our budget because we seem to overspend every time. In the four weeks since we started this challenge I stayed 100% on budget for 2 weeks, went slightly over on the third week and the fourth, we don’t need to speak of again. A good start, better than previous months definitely but I need to find a way to stay accountable and stick with the cash envelope system. 

Bulb Energy Referral

After posting about Bulb last month, someone used my referral to sign up with them and we have both received £50 credit on our gas and electricity account. To say I’m pleased is an understatement, especially as that means another person choosing 100% renewable electricity and 10% renewable gas. They are a lovely company to deal with and have saved me a fortune over the past 18 months. They are worth a look at if you aren’t happy with your current energy provider. My referral is: http://bit.ly/nickibulbreferral

A Frugal-ish Day Out

We’ve now got a Family and Friends Railcard. The cost is £30 a year although I cashed in some Tesco vouchers to make it £15 for the year. It allowed us to travel from Thirsk to York, four of us, for £12.80 return. It has almost paid for itself already. Have a look on the Railcard website at this railcard and others to see how you can save. 

We took the train to York and enjoyed a few fabulous hours at the National Railway Museum, a very short walk from York train station. There is no entrance fee at the NRM and there is so much for us all to see and do. We then walked into York, had some lunch, enjoy a little shopping (necessary purchases only, a bath bomb for Taylor etc) and then came home, tired but having had a fabulous and fairly frugal day out. If you haven’t been to the National Railway Museum they are worth looking up.


Frugal February: The Plan

We’re now halfway through February. There are no big spends planned, the food budget is back under control and we’re plodding along nicely. We’ve swapped out shampoo for a shampoo bar (cheaper and better for the environment) and are trialling a conditioner bar. These we’ll feedback on later. The plan for February is to continue with the successful frugal changes we’ve made so far and to:

  • Use Freecycle to source packing boxes/materials for free.
  • Research ways to cut the cost of our upcoming house move.
  • Be more mindful of our gas and electricity usage.
  • Enjoy more frugal family days out (Check out the Forestry Commission walks for a cheap and healthy fun day).
  • Declutter and sell on or donate anything we no longer need.

I’ll be back with an update in a couple of weeks.


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