Financial worries as a parent: a guide to managing cash

Parenting brings with it a whole host of joyful and fun experiences, and for many parents, these make bringing up little ones the best experience of their lives. However, there are also some stresses involved: from changing nappies to ensuring that the child has a good time at school, there’s a lot to think about. Managing money is also a big issue for many families: with an extra person or people in the house, everything from the energy bills to the food shop costs are likely to go up.

As a result, planning ahead by batch cooking, finding special offers and much more are all good moves. This article will look at exactly how a young family can develop the budgeting skills needed to make sure that nobody goes hungry – and that there’s a little bit of spare cash left over to make sure that everyone, even the parents, can have a treat from time to time.

Shop carefully

No matter what you need to shop for, there’s almost always a big cost or two around every corner. School uniforms, for example, are always pricey – so why not consider looking on Facebook groups or on parent association newsletters to see whether anyone local is selling a second-hand school jumper or two? More generally, it’s wise to exercise caution when shopping. Whether you’re going out for groceries, homewares or something else, you should always make a decent list in advance and ensure that you stick to it. This way, you’ll be on a mission – and there’ll be less chance that you’ll get distracted by tempting offers.

Batch cooking

Food is a major cost in many modern households – and with supermarket prices seemingly always on the up, it’s important to find ways to prevent it becoming too expensive to eat properly. Batch cooking is a great way to achieve this. By setting aside a few hours at, say, the weekend, you can make lots of portions of a few different easy meals, such as chilli and Bolognese sauce, and then freeze them until you need them. That way, you won’t need to buy expensive takeaways or ready meals when you’re pushed for time.

You can push this even further by obtaining your ingredients in stores such as Lidl and Aldi, where prices are even cheaper than Tesco, Sainsbury’s and other major brands. You can also shop at strategic times of the day: why not leave your partner to watch the kids while you head to the bargain sell-off area of the local supermarket at the typical discount time of 9pm or 10pm?

The right tariff?

Energy and water are also expensive when you’ve got a young family. All those heated radiators in winter and freshly run baths every night can add up, but they obviously shouldn’t be sacrificed when kids are involved if at all possible. Instead, heading to a price comparison website can help you to see whether you’re on the best deal for your energy. Switching provider has been made as easy as possible in recent years, so if you spot a better deal, then you should go for it.

Claiming what you’re owed

You might not be aware of it, but if you’ve been a taxpayer or a consumer for long enough, then you could be entitled to some compensation, tax credits or benefits for a whole host of things. Making a Barclaycard PPI claim can be done through the internet, so it won’t even be a hassle to get your money back if this is a scandal that has affected you. It’s also possible to head over to sites such as Money Saving Expert to find out if there are any additional allowances that you can claim. The rules around benefits – especially after changes to child tax credits and the imposition of Universal Credit – seem complicated on the face of it, but they actually often tend to be easier to understand once explained by an expert.

Keeping an eye on the family budget can be a tough task, especially for hard-pressed young families with lots of outgoings and not much coming in. However, there are ways and means around most problems. Making sure that you claim all that you’re owed, for example, can really help to stretch the budget, while classic tips such as batch cooking and changing your energy tariff can also help lower the bills. Don’t be frightened, then, by financial problems: instead, see them as an opportunity to develop better financial habits.

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