Now I’m in the final months of maternity leave, I have reached the pinnacle of my pay… as in, I get no more. The government gives you Statutory Maternity Pay for 9 months of you maternity leave; and, yes, you can negotiate with your employer to have your pay split over the whole year – but we didn’t so now we’re into money saving mode!
This isn’t a surprise, we knew it was coming, so we have saved already to buffer the single income we’ll get until I go back to work. There are always ways you can save money. Here are the top ways we have in our house!
1. Save your reward points.
This goes for your Clubcard, Nectar, MyWaitrose (if that’s how you roll) and Match & More. They are great to cash in when things are a little quiet in the bank account. We saved all our points for a year and have gotten a whole weekly shop for nothing. When the man came with the delivery, I felt a bit mean that he had come to deliver our free food! Another way these are good are if you cash them in for extra money at restaurants etc. Tesco will give you double, sometimes triple, the value in a voucher for a restaurant rather than spend the points in store. So £10 will get you £20 to spend in Pizza Express, Prezzo, Zizzi along with many more options to choose. It’ll be a nice treat for the family when the purse strings are tight.
2. Plan your meals.
This is a biggie and the one that saves us the most money. When I know what we’re having to eat during the week, I don’t feel the need to pop to the supermarket to pick something up for dinner. It’s all planned and the ingredients are all purchased ready, there’s no negotiation and take aways are scheduled so you don’t just say “there’s nothing I fancy, shall we get a Chinese?”.
The added bonus of this is that we can plan what our daughter eats, if I make home cooked meals, then we can portion them out for her. Then the pouches we have in the cupboard can be saved for trips out and other emergencies, rather than daily usage. They can be really expensive, so it’s a good place to cut down if you can.
3. Be economical with parking.
If you drive, then try and make sure you’re using the time wisely on your parking meter. I was always guilty of it just ticking over and having to pay for another hour when I went to town, where as now I plan my trips and what I need to get to make sure the hour I’m paying for is used to the full. With pay and displays, I always really think about how long this trip will take, try not pay for an extra hour “just incase” if you’re sure you won’t be rushing back to the car.
4. Think about the special offers.
My favourite offer is the one at Waitrose, if you buy anything and show your MyWaitrose card, you can get a free coffee, every day. I usually buy something I needed any way (bread, milk etc) and pick up my free coffee for the walk around the park. They also offer a free paper if you spend £5 during the week or £10 at the weekend, although I’ve never taken part in that freebie!
With groceries I always try and snap up the 3 for £10 on meats, then I portion them all up and freeze them for future meals. This usually gets you quite a lot of meat for your money. Today I bought a whole chicken, diced beef and 25 meatballs for £10. That will do our family for 5 meals.
5. Take advantage of the world around you.
At the weekend with children it can be really hard to entertain them (and during the week if you read my post on Parenting – The Endless Hours). I am always tempted to spend money and go to places that will entertain my daughter (and me), but sometimes a walk around the park just does the trick. She has quite a short attention span, so I’m not talking long windy walks for miles, just a little stroll around the pond and down the road. It normally kills an hour and you’ve had a bit of exercise at the same time. Otherwise I like using the things around the house as toys, wooden spoons and pans filled with building blocks are good fun. There are usually a few free baby/toddler groups to take advantage of each week and if you get some coupons for local attractions you can sometimes get in at a fraction of the price.
I have found these 5 things the best ways of saving money as a parent, what do you do in your house?
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