Remember those days pre-kids when you had all the spare cash you needed (and probably wish you’d saved) and you weren’t Googling daily money saving tips 3 times an hour? Yeah, me neither!
All jokes aside, most of us had more money before we had kids. Scrabbling around for an extra few quid for beer at the weekend was sometimes the biggest financial worry we had (I mean, aside from actually paying the rent!)
Suddenly you’re not working anymore and maternity pay isn’t really hitting the sweet spot. Or you’re well beyond the days of maternity pay and still not working, or working a lot less than before. The kids are bleeding the bank account dry, and you’re checking your online banking app more than Instagram.
There’s no magic formula, I’m afraid, but I have got 27 daily money saving tips to help if you’re on a tight budget.
Daily money saving tip for mama’s on a tight budget
1. Choose experiences over things
Instead of going for the quick win of a brand new shiny thing, put the money you would have spent on it in a jar, or a separate account, and save towards a fabulous day out. Rather than feeling great about the shiny thing for a few days until it gets lost or shoved in a cupboard, you’ll remember the trip for a long time. You’ll create memories, photographs, and hopefully knackered kids!
2. Go shopping alone
Yes, I know, sometimes this is easier said than done. I choose to do my weekly food shop at about 9pm on a Friday. All the cool kids are in bars rather than the supermarket, so it’s generally not too busy. I leave the kids in bed with Mr C at home with them and shop in peace (with my trusty meal plan and list in tow, obvs!)
3. Cut out unnecessary spending
Do you buy a coffee every morning? Or a packet of sweets every day on the school pick up? Invest in a travel mug or reusable coffee cup and take your own. You’ll save a packet in the long run. And try buying big bags or multi-packs of sweets or treats on your weekly food shop that you can decant and just take a few each day. You and the kids still get your treat, but for a fraction of the price!
4. Log your daily spending
There are tons of apps you can download to do this, but to be honest the notes app on your phone is just as good. Make a quick note of everything you buy and how much you spend. Check back on it at the end of every day and you’ll likely see where your money is all going. Having to write it all down will make you think twice about that cute mug (to add to the 43 you already have!)
5. Carry cash
It might sound counter-productive, but when I’m on a seriously strict budget I ditch the cards and fill my purse with cash. I draw out my budget for the week, and when it’s gone it’s gone. This way you can easily see at a glance what you have left, and you’re less likely to spend on unnecessary things. The pence and pounds that usually seem like nothing start to feel a lot more real when you spend physical cash.
6. Save first, spend later
When you do your monthly budget and work out how much you should have left to squirrel away in your savings account, don’t wait to put it away. I used to be guilty of this. I thought if I waited until the end of the month to put it away then I’d leave myself covered for unexpected costs. What actually happens is that it’s in your account, so it just gets spent. Unexpected essential expenses can always be taken from your savings, but if you leave it in your account ‘just in case’, you will spend it.
7. Take food with you
When you go out with the kids, take your snacks and food with you. Even when I’m just popping out to the shops, I always make sure I’m . This way, if the kids (or you) need anything to eat, you have food with you that you’ve already paid for, rather than having to buy more.
8. Create a vision board
Where do you want to be financially this time next year? or in 5 years? Creating a vision board and putting it somewhere prominent (your phone or PC screen saver or background, or actually physically on a wall somewhere) will act as a constant reminder and motivation to keep saving and spending well.
9. Be more mindful
Mindful budgeting is a big thing now. Put simply, mindful budgeting is about taking more time over every purchase you make. Really take time to think about what you’re buying, why you’re buying it, and how it’s going to serve you.
10. Get creative with gifts
Everyone loves a thoughtful gift. What’s more thoughtful than something handmade?! If you’re not crafty at all, get the kids involved! Even better than a handmade gift, are handmade gifts made by kids – people love the thought that’s gone into it.
11. Quality over Quantity
Focus on quality over quantity with what you buy. We can all drop £20 in the poundshop without even realising, but sometimes it’s better to buy one or two quality items that will last, rather than loads of stuff that we’ll forget about next week or will get broken.
12. Overcome FOMO
Fear of missing out can be a huge hurdle to get over when you’re on a tight budget. We don’t want to miss out, so when opportunities come up we end up blowing the budget. There are loads of ways get over FOMO, and it doesn’t have to end in your overdraft. 😉
13. Eat at home
Most of us like a slap up meal out, but we also know it’s far from the cheapest way to eat. Cut out on your meals out and you will definitely save money. If you have to have a meal not cooked at home, opt for take-away instead.
It’s always a good idea to properly plan your income and expenses each month. It might not be most fun way to spend your time, but it will be the best thing for you (and your budget) in the long run. Try this free epic budget calculator that works everything out for you.
15. Keep the change
This works especially well if you’ve chosen to carry cash instead of cards. Break your monthly budget down into weekly, and then again into daily amounts. Carry ONLY the daily amount, and at the end of each day, put anything you have leftover in a (yes, even the pennies!) This way you’ll have a handy little jar filled with cash to dip into if and when you need it. You’d be surprised how quickly it fills up.
16. Take lunch to work
Dinner leftovers make amazing lunches. If you have a microwave at work, fill a pot with your leftover dinner and chuck it in your lunch bag. I also do this with the kids lunches; I put spare dinner on plates, wrap them, and pop them in the fridge for their lunch the next day. Doing this also means I save time in the kitchen each day – win win!
17. Avoid boredom
Boredom amounts for a huge chunk of the spending we do. If you’re at home full time with kids, it can be really easy to ‘pop to the shops’ just to get out of the house. If you really can’t find anything free to do with the kids, your money would be much better spent in soft play where the kids might actually give you a break for an hour! There are loads of free places you can go, too; your local library, the park, and local play groups to mention a few.
18. Use an app
Our phones are fab budgeting tools. I mentioned earlier that you can use your notes app to track your daily spending, but for the bigger, longer term goals there are some brilliant free apps you can get. Apps like GoodBudget, Wally, and Money Dashboard are great for seeing all your accounts in one place. That’s not to mention the fab features your bank’s online app probably has.
19. Switch Supermarkets.
If you’ve been here before, you’ll probably know that I’m a massive advocate of budget supermarkets like Aldi and Lidl. If you shop smart, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with these supermarkets, despite the negative association that a lot of people have with them. Our food spend is between £40-£50 a week with Aldi (for a hungry family of 4) and we don’t go without anything we need or want.
20. Use loyalty points
That being said, if you do use a bigger supermarket that has a loyalty system, you really should be using it to it’s full potential. Check online for extra point deals before you shop, and if they fit within your budget and shopping list make sure you grab them. I also use loyalty point systems in lots of other places; my mobile phone provider often has things like a free coffee at Caffe Nero, or free bag of chocolate coins in WH Smiths (for the kids, honest!) Whenever I do choose to spend on premium coffee, I make sure to collect the points which rack up to a free coffee too.
21. Shop around
You can get most things that you buy regularly cheaper. If you take the time to shop around a little, or even stock up when the sales are on, you’ll save yourself a pretty penny!
22. Cook fresh
It might seem like a ball ache, but cooking fresh food at home doesn’t have to eat up all your spare time. And it’s way cheaper than buying pre-produced ready made food. Mostly this is because you can get so much more when you cook fresh, meaning you can always freeze half and eat it another time. Some weeks, we have so much bulk food in the freezer that I only have to stock up on basics like fruit, bead, milk, and snacks! And I only cook once a week on a Sunday for a few hours. All our meals for the week (where possible). Time saved and money.
23. Go meat free once or twice a week
When I switched our spaghetti bolognese from 5% fat minced beef to meat replacement mince, no-one noticed. I certainly noticed the difference in my weekly shopping bill though! Meat replacements are way cheaper than meat (usually), full of protein, and just as tasty as the ‘real’ thing.
24. Wait before you buy
Whenever you feel like buying something, give yourself a 24 or 48 hour wait limit. 324 hours usually does the trick, but 48 hours will help make absolutely sure that you want or need to buy it.
25. Have a supermarket ban
It might sound silly, but banning yourself (and family) from the supermarket on any day other than weekly shop day will eradicate the extra spending that most of us when we just pop out for bread or milk. If you often find that you need a little top up on basics, then just buy more when you do your big shop. Both bread and milk freeze perfectly well, so you should never have to pop to the shops. Supermarkets love it when we pop in midweek, because they know those are the time when we’re the most likely pick up impulse items.
26. Change your phone screensaver
You can quickly and easily create a text graphic on your phone that says something like “Do you really want it?” This way, whenever you look at your phone, you’ll see it and it will make you think twice about what you’re about to purchase.
27. Plan all your meals.
Weekly meal planning is another one that doesn’t sound like much fun, but will ultimately save you a ton of cash. Spend some time each week planning what you’re going to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, then write a shopping list for only the ingredients you’ll need for those meals. Add in basics and essential snacks (damn those kids and their snacks!) and you’ll have your perfect shopping list. You’ll also save time every day not having to worry about what you’re going to cook, and avoid falling back on takeaway because you can’t think of anything to make. You can grab a free weekly planner here.
Daily money saving tips!
So there you have it; 27 daily money saving tips! Go forth and save, mamas!