Making your dollar stretch – Budgeting tips for parents
Making your dollar stretch: budgeting tips for parents
The cost of living is soaring and kids don’t get any cheaper to feed, clothe, or entertain as the years march on. Inflation is biting so many households at the moment – so how do you stretch your dollars to as far as they’ll go? We have a few tips to help stressed-out parents so you can make those paycheques last a bit longer – and even save for a rainy day!
Creating a budget
The golden rule of budgeting is spending less than you make. List your income, expenses, and debt to start budgeting. Past pay, benefit, bill, bank, and credit card statements might help. Check this if you spend or earn money elsewhere.
Examine enough invoices and statements from the last year to determine your spending and earning patterns. It's useful to examine seasonal bill increases. Use comparison sites to find better deals on electricity, gas, internet, and mobile phone plans. All up savings of $100 a month means $1,200 a year – enough for a holiday!
Cutting on essentials – without sacrificing quality
When I moved out, my father told me “Never to compromise on two things – food and toilet paper.” I took that to heart – but I also realised I could stretch my dollar further by buying food in bulk and preparing meals ahead of time. It’s cheaper per kilogram, it stops us from eating out too often, and we can still prepare meals that are delicious and nutritious for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Oh, and we can always buy toilet paper in bulk, too – it doesn’t go off, after all!
Entertaining for cheap or free
Taking a trip to Movie World down on the Gold Coast should be a treat, not the norm. You can entertain a kid for less these days – and we’re not talking about sitting them in front of an iPad for hours at a time. Picnics, board games, gardening, backyard camping (or out in the bush), beach swimming, colouring in, DIY workshops at Bunnings, visiting the local RSPCA – these are all activities you can do with kids that don’t charge admission. (Well, it might cost you the price of a few snags in bread…)
Avoiding interest – paying down debts
We don’t mean making yourself bored – more about wrangling your smaller, high-interest debts such as credit cards or payday loans instead. At any rate, you should avoid using credit cards and especially payday loans; these can cost upwards of 20-40%p.a. in interest. If you do have smaller loans, you should consider paying them off all at once using a debt consolidation loan. Even if you don’t have the best track record with finance, you can still get loans with bad credit and save a lot in interest repayments.
The idea is to reduce or stop using your credit cards completely and transition into saving more for urgent expenses or purchases, such as sudden appliance failure or medical bills. Though it may hurt the hip pocket forking over your savings, it’s a lot better than going into debt that can spiral out of control. That way you can look forward to more fun things to do such as holidays!