This post is contributed.
Having a family is the dream life many of us have envisioned since we were children ourselves. And although there’s no doubt about the happiness children can bring, raising a family can also be an expensive pursuit. Mothers in particular, can find themselves with lots of responsibilities both at home and in work, and many are in charge of looking after the household budget. Budgeting correctly is a life skill which can really enhance your family time, giving you the opportunity for more fun days out vacations and trips while also reducing the stress and anxiety that finances can bring if they aren’t in order. If you know where to look, there are some great tools and resources to make budgeting less of a headache and more of a life enhancement. It’s surprising how many otherwise clever people still don’t use a budget. No matter how generous your income, you still need one to stop you living beyond your means and to ensure that you can achieve the financial goals you have for your family – be that saving for a dream home, planning great trips abroad or even thinking ahead to college.
Pay Down Any Debt
Debt can be a significant drain on your resources, so it’s a good idea to come up with a plan for paying it down as soon as possible, starting with the highest interest rate – this is known as ‘snowballing’ and it can save you hundreds, perhaps even thousands, in interest payments. It’s really easy to rack up money on store cards, credit cards and car loans before you know it, but although credit is great in an emergency, or to help you spread the cost of a big purchase, try to avoid the trap of using it for non-essential items or little luxuries. If you’ve accrued a lot of debt, then a consolidation plan could be a way out before it gets too much, and can help make doing the household budget much easier.
Save Towards Your Home
Our homes are the single biggest asset that most of us hope to own, and with rental costs rising and wages stagnating, it actually makes more sense to be paying off a mortgage, and it can even be cheaper than renting in some areas – but you will need a deposit. Use a reliable housing loan calculator to work out what you can afford and how much you’ll need to save, then go through your household budget to identify where you can make savings to allow you to build up what you need. Look into government backed schemes which pay a decent rate of interest or provide tax breaks and other contributions to help you to get a foot on the property ladder. A lovely family home could be more within reach than you think.
Plan For Parenting
If you are thinking of starting or expanding a family, then finances shouldn’t be an afterthought – they need to be a part of the discussion from the beginning. Going down to one income can be a big hit to take, so it’s a good idea to plan how you’re going to manage and try to make some cutbacks so you can save a little towards the event. You will also need to consider the cost of childcare when you do return to work, as it’s more expensive than you may think. If it’s your first child, there are also a few larger items of equipment you’ll need to purchase, like cribs and car seats. Many of these things can be bought secondhand in great condition as they get so little use before the baby outgrow them, so take a look online for preloved baby equipment and clothing and you could save yourself a fortune.
Cut Out Impulse Purchases
Purchasing decisions that you make on impulse are very rarely good ones. From that dress in the sales that’s too small and doesn’t get worn to the latest must-have coffee machine that isn’t touched, those purchases aren’t a bargain if they aren’t used. Instead of handing over your card when you see something that catches your eye, try adding it onto a wishlist for a month and seeing if it still seems such a necessity after that time. You’ll be surprised at how many things you don’t want so badly when you’ve given yourself a cooling off period. And if you do still want to go ahead and make a purchase, you can use shopping comparison sites to make sure you get the best possible deal, or use a cashback site to claim some money back on your item.