Savings Tips for the Mamas and the Papas

Friday, 12 February 2010

I’ve never been the best with money, though, like a good cheddar, I’m improving with age. And a CPA husband helps (though he does have a shoe fettish – hey - we all have our Thing).

So when it comes to dealing out ‘advice’ during FebuSave, I can’t say I’m the Be-All and Know-All of the Financial Savvy Kingdom. I do, however, know how vital it is to turn off the lights and skimp on the $4 lattès if I aim to add another handbag to the collection or pay a little something called school fees. It’s all about necessity, is it not?

So, in the spirit of FebuSave and stacking away the cash for something more vital to the spirit than lattès (like peace of mind and/or school fees), here are some ideas and thoughts and tips for parents of kids:

  • When you grocery shop, buy in bulk or at least buy a lot at once and so minimise your trips back to that evil-house-of-financial-undoing. The more you shop, the more impulse items you succumb to – the more you spend.
  • Really really basic, but instil that automatic flick switch in your kids now and pester them until you’re blue in the face to turn off the lights, close the door, don’t let the water run, take shorter showers, unplug chargers, turn off appliances when not in use, don’t overheat/overcool the house, etc etc. These small necessities will not only save you a bundle over the year, you’ll be teaching your kids vital life skills AND helping save the planet. Triple whammy.
  • Don’t eat out and don’t order takeaway. If you simply can’t face making dinner, pick up a roast chicken or grilled fish pieces from the local chippy and whip up a salad or steamed vegies.
  • Take your own coffee in the car (you can get great takeaway style cups nowadays, made of porcelain or plastic) or gather the troups and invest in a coffee machine for work. You’ll save a bundle over time. Try here and here.
  • Have fun with the kids by doing things that cost nothing. The freebies are obvious (nature, here we come!) but there’s actually a lot you can tap into in your local community, and if there’s not, start your own! Google websites that offer free access to free events and services. Here are some sites for Canberra, Newcastle, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Brisbane and Auswide. If you know of more, please post a comment below.
  • Write shopping lists and stick to them.
  • Consider having a babyware or kidsware clothing/toys/provisions swap, rather than buying new. It’s a great way to offload as well as save money.
  • What’s wrong with tap water? Bonus – fluoridation of your kids’ teeth.
  • Instead of buying flowers, cut small branches or greenery from the garden and display indoors (presuming you don’t have a floral cutting garden next to your sandpit or swingset).
  • Pop into the bank and get some little coin bags. Set up a jar in the kitchen for loose change. As it fills, the kids will love sorting them into lots and shovelling them into the coin bags. Take them to the bank all at once and revel in the resultant notes! You could actually make this a job for the children... if they coin collect, tell them the end result will end up in their bank account. Watch the money grow!
  • Consider making your own biscuits, muesli bars and fruit sticks for school lunches. They are fresher, healthier, more delicious and a LOT cheaper than prepackaged. Companies know mums are desperate for easy items for lunchboxes and accordingly charge a fortune for them.
  • Join rewards clubs - from your local café chain (a free coffee!) to supermarkets and airlines. Rewards cards may take years to add up, but the operative concept is that they add up.
  • Want to get rid of junk AND source some great gear? Try
  • Take the kids to the library instead of the bookshop.

Want more? Check Australian Women Online’s other FebuSave bloggers for their financial journey – and check back next week for more sage advice from this financially fumbling mum.

Head on over to FebuSave to pledge your own commitment to saving for the month of Feb, and share your tips with others!

This article first appeared on Australian Women Online.

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