But I’ve found that once we got going, it gets easier.
What I’ve also discovered is that it has the surprising added bonus of adding back the adventure and sparkle to life; who’d have thought it?
So I’m sharing some of my Top Tips for saving money and cutting costs. Check out the video, which mainly stars my daughter and dog, or read the tips below, or both!
1) Changing our focus to cost cutting and saving
I was very sensible with money as a kid, growing up with a recession that hit the building trade hard and parents who wanted me to contribute to my keep. In our 20′s the hairy northern one and I would monitor every tenner we spent. But somehow we got lost along the way and swapped our little cars for big ones, and never quite started doing the savings that we promised we would. We’ve been getting back on the straight an narrow for a few years, but his recent redundancy has been the big ‘penny dropper’. Suddenly we are cutting unnecessary costs, changing back to small tax free cars, switching from private to state schools, watching our pennies, and getting a focussed plan together on the savings front for ‘savings to spend’ and ‘savings forever’.
2) Look after your money and your money will look after you
I discovered a spooky rule about money a few years back; that when I save, budget, and monitor my spends, I end up with more money left over, more value in my life and ironically attract more money. Obviously the hairy northern one was dubious of this rule at first being an accountant. But the fact that we only followed the rule intermittently proved it was true, because every time we did it, my business at the time would be more successful. It’s as though by proving that we would look after our money, we were being allowed more. Almost as soon as we restarted this time, I started getting opportunities for this blog that I’d never been offered before; so it works for all types of business.
3) Budget for ‘Pots’ to give fairness and power in your relationship
We budget for ‘pots’ for each of us, so that spends can be transparent and fairly spread amongst the family. The idea is that how much the hairy northern one and I have to spend is clearly set, but from then on it’s our own business what we spend it on. It gives the relationship fairness, transparency and independence. Otherwise in families there is often the myth that someone is spending more than is fair, that eats away at people. The ‘pots’ don’t restrict us, they just help us to plan in advance. We don’t always do it, as there have been times when we forget. But the effect on our relationship is really noticeable when we do (that means more sex, if any men are reading this and want encouragement!).
The last 4 months we’ve been doing ‘use it up month‘ and following the rule ‘can it wait for a month’ before we buy it. We don’t seem to be any the worse for it, after all, adults are just like children who become discontent and spoilt if they get everything they want all at once. We all need something to strive for, and to feel that we deserve what we got. I’m actually loving the fact that I’m being gently directed to concentrate on ‘The simpler things in life‘.
5) Spending less on the kids
I’ve been lucky to live next door to someone with a daughter a year older than Curly Dimples, who has pretty much dressed her since birth; difficult to organise maybe, but worth considering if you are moving house (the easier alternative would be to go to a charity shop!). Obviously Curly Headed Boy has the genes of his father so often ‘NEEDs’ a new gadget! I ban TV with adverts around birthday or christmas time to save my sanity and spend ages planning presents that I know will last. He has surprisingly got the message and even bought himself a piggy bank at last years school fair (and a horrible monstrosity it is too, no wonder that Mother got rid of it!).
6) Can it be replaced for something cheaper, more fun and adventurous?
We’ve looked at our costs and looked at what we could replace without losing out. In fact, alternative options can be more adventurous and fun, as well as much cheaper. The glamping yurt from last year is switching to a tent, with me spending hours of fun searching for stuff to glamp up my tent on Pinterest so that I don’t get stressed by the dull nature of camping gear. The gym membership full of guilt from lack of usage, has switched to more dog walking and dancing with the kids on the Wii, which has improved my skin no end from the fresh air. I’m actually finding myself really enjoying the feeling of adventure as we look for different ways of doing things.
The hairy northern one has now got a 4 day week interim contract. This is great news, but realistically we need a ‘buffer’ to cover a potential gap between this and the next contract. We are also looking to save money in the short term in order to maybe go away for a family gap year/season in between contracts.
Most importantly in the long term I’m aiming for a vibrant grannydom full of health and the financial freedom to follow my kids wherever they decide to go in the world (a bit of a granny stalker!). A little less spent now will enable us to have freedom and adventure in our future. So I focus on that as much as possible and keep reminding myself so that the little restrictions now don’t stress me out.
If you are looking to cut your spends and save money, I’d say – start now, even if it’s just £1 or £10. Remember that with a little imagination you can often replace the things that you think are so necessary, with something cheaper that is also more fun and flexible.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed my tips and find them useful?
This post is part of a BritMums campaign in conjunction with Virgin Money. There’s also a competition, which you might be really interested in, so check out the details below.
Share your money saving stories or tips to take part in the Piggy Bank Tales Competition, sponsored by Virgin Money . You could win one of two £500 prizes which you can choose to invest in a Stocks and Shares ISA to jump start your own nest egg if you want to!
Taking part is simple:
- On your blog, post your own Piggy Bank Tale. Whether you’re saving for a rainy day or you’re into investing in the stock market, it doesn’t matter – your stories or tips can be fun, quirky or serious!
- Add the link to your post on the Piggy Bank Tales Linky below by 17:00 GMT on 10th April.
- Soon after that, we’ll pick two winners at random for the £500 prize.
- Read the terms and conditions.
- Tweet about your involvement using the #VirginISA hashtag
We’d also love you to grab the badge here and insert in your post to help spread the word.
Good Luck! We can’t wait to hear your piggy bank tales.