There is a saying that goes: “More money, more problems,” but nearly everyone would dearly love to have the opportunity to test out this particular theory. Between mortgage payments or rent, school fees and everything else, life is expensive and especially so when you are a parent. What steps are mothers taking to keep their budgets under control while still taking good care of their families?
Getting the Best Value You Can
Buying the newspaper just to get the coupons is no longer something only the desperate or miserly do: over three quarters of people follow this route to save cash when shopping. There are a number of sources of good advice available online with tips to getting the most out of this habit; savings of 20% or more on your grocery bill are not uncommon.
Aside from spending some time with the local newspaper and a pair of scissors, look out for special, limited-time offers. Occasionally a retailer will find itself overstocked on some item you need and offer fantastic discounts just to get rid of the inventory. If this is something you know you’ll use in future, especially if you can freeze or otherwise store it conveniently, take advantage.
Additionally, avoid paying for someone else’s TV commercials. Many common products have cheaper, off-brand competitors that do exactly the same job. Is a $4 tube of toothpaste really going to keep your breath mintier than the kind that costs $1? Spend your money on quality, not logos.
Eliminate the Unnecessary
About 75% of families have slashed their entertainment and leisure budgets, but this doesn’t mean they’re down to playing solitaire and charades. Using free or cheap local resources that you’ve been overlooking, such as parks, exhibitions and libraries, the whole family can have just as much fun as before without shelling out hundreds of dollars.
Cooking a steak dinner at home can cost a tenth the price of a restaurant meal, while renting a few DVDs for a Saturday night allows you to see the same movies you would have in a cinema, plus there’s all you can eat snacks on a comfy couch.
Transferring Good Money Sense to the Children
Considering the level of debt many young adults manage to rack up, teaching your kids how money works – and especially how to delay gratification – is one of a parent’s most important jobs.
The ability to save for what you want, instead of spending ready cash as fast as possible, is the one characteristic that separates financially mature individuals of any age from their perpetually broke counterparts. Teaching your children this, first by way of words, then your own example and finally by allowing them to use their own money how they wish, with the clear condition that this is not an inexhaustible resource, is one of the most valuable educational gifts you can give them.
Giving Kids an Allowance
Verbally explaining how money should be used will be useless unless they can experiment on their own to concretely learn what behaviors work, and which don’t. An allowance, often given in return for doing tasks around the house or maintaining good academic scores, gives them an appropriate amount of money to learn the concepts of saving and spending money on what’s important rather than on impulse.
Giving cash as a birthday gift is also appropriate, and certainly better than buying a toy they will not care about in two weeks. Encouraging them to save this lump sum instead of blowing it all on candy should be a serious consideration, since the habits formed in childhood can affect behavior much later in life.
One strategy is to offer to “invest” their money for them. You don’t actually need to buy stocks or open a savings account, but letting them know every month how their money is increasing, especially over the longer term, will teach them about interest rates. So many adults have fallen victim to their own ignorance on topics such as these, that teaching your children at a young age is almost as important as knowing how to cut household expenses.