Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Taking a look at your finances. Where can you cut back, cutting your utility bills, shopping with discount codes and maybe a little lifestyle tweak!

Recently, even though I now work and bring in a little bit of extra money into the household, we still wonder where it all goes by the end of the month. 

We do live quite frivolously and could cut back on some things we do and so I decided we needed to have a little finance tweak to see what we could change and where we were maybe spending a bit too much whether it be downsizing the utility bills, the food shop, eating out or clothes shopping! 

We don't go out a lot as a couple or even as a family. We try and take the children out to local parks, lakes, woodland walks rather than spending a fortune on theme parks, play areas etc... Even the local play area seems cheap at the time until you get sucked into buying a hot drink, a drink for the kiddies and then they came they are hungry whilst you are there and it all adds up really quickly. 

Discovering local parks, woodland walks and Windsor Castle! All free and fun days out. 

As a couple we hardly go out at all. I have my Tuesday night pub quiz night and the OH plays badminton with a local club which takes up one or two nights a week. I would love a date night each month, a chance to connect without the kids around our ankles or the daily grind of bedtime routines and nights where you are so tired after getting the little ones to bed that you fall asleep before your head hits the pillow! 

We do spend too much on eating out or takeaways. Every month I say we will stop but it's so easy to do. On a night when you can't be bothered or when the kiddies have pestered you for a takeaway. Or we go shopping during the day and sneak in a quick lunch that ends up costing a small fortune. 

In the past 2 weeks alone we have eaten out or had takeaways far too often and I worked out it amounted to nearly £170. I was shocked. It is so easy to do and easy to forget that you ate a quick fast food meal here or a restaurant breakfast there. 

£150 is a decent week to week and a half food shop for us or at this time of year it's one child's Christmas presents sorted. It's the cost of a decent day out as a family for us yet if we even considered it we would probably think twice about spending that amount so why was it so easy to spend it on all those treat days?. 

Eating out and takeaways should be date nights and treat days! 

That is what it should be too, a treat. As children we rarely ate out and if we did it was because it was a special occasion. Yet the Things have become so used to it they expect it. If they ask for it they expect to get it or at least for their request to be considered and it's become the norm. It needs to be seen as a treat, something special and not a given that it will happen every week.

So eating out was the first part of my cut backs. Going back to one treat a month for the children and incorporating a date night into our month so not only do we look forward to a treat of a meal out but also some time as a couple where we can talk and get out of the house together. 

Next up are the bills. Cutting back on utility bills where you can is always good. Our gas/electricity provider allows us to downsize our bills if we are in credit or claim the money back and leave our monthly payments the same. I have compared prices with other providers and at the moment we can't really save on those but do look into it from time to time as different providers could save you a few £££'s compared to your current provider. Also look at your TV package and broadband/phone bills, there are always ways to cut your monthly direct debits with either a different provider or a deal from your current provider. 

I also found when I was looking at our direct debits that I was paying out on a few monthly subscriptions that I didn't realise were still ongoing. Apple Music had been subscribed to on a one month free trial and then we hadn't cancelled before the trail ended. REMEMBER to cancel a free trial just before it ends otherwise you do then get charged and the subscription remains ongoing often without you realising. Another thing I cancelled was our sons subscription to a monthly Loot Crate. Whilst he was working he would give us the money for it but he hasn't worked in 8 months and we were paying over £20 a month for him to have a treat sent through the post, I don't think so! 

Food shopping, the bane of my life!. I try and do a weekly food shop but I often end up going to the local shops for bread, milk, juice, fruit top ups and so inevitably what I thought was a £100 a week shop turns into £150-£200 before I realise. Meal planning is the way forward for sure. The three youngest get fed at school so I don't have pack lunches to worry about but some weekly food shops are just spent throwing stuff into the trolley and I get home and find I bought a trolley load of junk or stuff that won't make full meals! So meal plan your week and make sure you write all the ingredients down that you need before you go. Don't go shopping when you are hungry and try not to take children with you who throw stuff in the trolley without you realising. Also take advantage of money off online shopping for first time customers which most supermarkets offer on their online stores and do keep an eye out in the post for vouchers from supermarkets that you have shopped with before. I have had some through recently that have come in handy on the past few online shops. 

Our weekly food shop, this shop was around £160 and I swear it only lasted a few days!

And finally, always shop with a discount code is what I live by! If you are at the shops and see something go home and research online to see if you can buy it elsewhere cheaper or if another shop is running a discount or a code that will make it cheaper. Hold off buying something you like if you can and wait for the sales or often stores will run discount codes at certain times throughout the year, you don't usually have to wait long. 

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