In fact, recent research from insurer LV= shows that the cost of bringing up a child until they are 21 now stands at a whopping £222,458. But making a few simple changes can make all the difference to your purse. Here are the top ten...
1. Sell unwanted toys and clothes
Kids seem to grow at the speed of light and costly items like sports kits, Brownie uniforms and winter coats and school uniform can all add up.
If you have older children (or generous relatives and friends who do) you’ll be able to use hand-me-downs. But if not, how about selling clothes and toys that your children have grown out of on eBay? You’ll make some extra cash as well as clearing space.
You can also make instant cash by filling up a bag of clothes and taking them to your nearest ‘cash for clothes’ store. For more information on a variety of ways to sell your unwanted items read my article.
2. Plan your supermarket shop
With rising food costs, a trip to the supermarket can make a massive dent in your bank balance. The research from LV= showed parents spend a massive £19,270 on food for their kids from birth to 21. However, planning weekly meals in advance can save you cash and cut wastage.
Cooking from scratch is not only cheaper but also healthier than ready-meals. There are numerous online resources where you can find recipes for cheap and healthy family grub, for example the BBC good food channel.
Stock up on two-for-one deals at the supermarket if you notice an item you regularly use, but steer clear of offers on products you would never normally buy.
Switch to value brands, and never go shopping when you’re hungry!
3. Get the best credit card
Choosing the right credit card and using it properly can actually save you money, which is why it’s important to shop around and find out what your options are.
For example, by using the the Santander 123 Credit Card for your supermarket and fuel spend, you could earn 1% and 3% cashback respectively. It also rewards you with 2% cashback for any department store spend.
However, this plastic is best only for those who can pay off their balance every month as its annual fee of £24 pushes up the representative APR to 22.8% (variable).
Or if you are looking to make a large purchase like furniture and would like to spread the cost over a number of months, you might want to consider the Tesco Clubcard credit card.
This comes with an interest-free period of 16 months and doubles up as a Clubcard, allowing you to exchange the points you earn and get money off shopping, outings, restaurant meals and cinema trips.
4. Don’t leave the house without a voucher
These days it’s possible to find a money-off voucher for just about anything such as high street shops, restaurants, days out or weekends away.
MoneySupermarket’s deals and vouchers channel is currently offering up to 50% off at M&S and 25% off at Pizza Express. If you’re hoping for a family day out at the weekend, printing off this voucher will allow kids free admission to Dudley Zoo.
Don’t hang around though, if you see a voucher, print it out and use it. Many of the offers have a very limited period so don’t lose out.
5. Use cash
It’s easy to spend on your debit or credit card without thinking. But taking out a set amount in cash each week will help you stay within budget.
6. Start a babysitting circle
Starting a babysitting circle allows all your fellow mums to save money and relax in the knowledge that your children are being looked after by a friend.
When you babysit for someone in the circle, you are given a token. This can then be exchanged when you need someone to look after your kids. You’ll save pounds not having to fork out for babysitters – and it means you don’t have to pay twice for an evening out!
7. Don’t pay for clubs and activities
There are likely to be various extra-curricular clubs that your kids will want to join and should be encouraged as it is vital for their health, well-being and social skills. However, hefty fees might mean this isn’t always possible, so find out what free or low-cost activities are available in your area.
For example, Tesco runs weekly ‘after school skills’ courses where your child can get football training under the FA coaching model. The sessions cost just £1 or £2 a week and in the summer holidays are entirely free. To find your nearest one, click here.
Or if your nipper has their sights set on Wimbledon, they could get free tennis coaching for 50 weeks of the year. Simply go to the ‘tennis for free’ website and type in your postcode.
8. Cut your energy bills
Energy bills can be a real drain on the household finances, especially when the weather is this cold. So why pay more than you need to? By going to MoneySupermarket’s energy channel you’ll be able to compare prices from every gas and electricity supplier to find the best deal for you.
But there are other simple changes you can make around the home that will reduce your bills. For example, having a shower rather than a bath, turning down the heating and keeping the lid on pans when cooking on the hob. And rather than using the energy-gobbling tumble dryer, hang your clothes on a washing line or indoor clothes-maid.
9. Shop online
It’s no secret that shopping online is often cheaper. For example, just by using the MoneySupermarket shopping channel you can type in the item you want and find the cheapest online retailer to get it from.
But it can also be cheaper to do your food shopping this way. You’re less likely to be swayed by items that you see when you go to the supermarket and can be a lot more controlled in your choices.
By using the online site Mysupermaket.com you’ll be able to find the cheapest place to buy your food from. And if you have a friend that lives nearby you could even share the cost of the delivery charge.
10. Get what you’re entitled to
Knowing what family-related benefits you’re entitled to can be confusing. But by visiting direct.gov you’ll be able to research exactly what you should be eligible for, for example maternity pay, child tax credits or child benefit.
Changes to child benefit recently came into play, which means that not everyone is entitled to claim, as was previously the case. For more information on this read Melanie Wright’s article, ‘Stay ahead of child benefit cuts.’
So, by just making some small everyday changes, you can make big savings. To read more money-saving tips, read my article in which three new mums give their first-hand accounts of what they are doing to cut costs.
Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.