Top tips for budgeting with children

Having children can be expensive, especially for parents with several mouths to feed, shoes to buy and school outings and uniforms to pay for, not to mention holidays, birthdays and Christmas.
Keeping up with everything can be difficult, making it so easy to get into debt. Luckily, there are a few steps and clever budgeting methods you can use to ensure you can still afford the things you want without spiralling into debt.
Budget wisely
A budget will help you keep track of all your everyday living costs and essentials and may help you too to find ways of putting money aside for emergencies or treats. Keeping tabs on your spending will prevent you from getting out of control, especially when money is tight.
It always makes sense to keep a track of where your money goes each month – take a look at your bank and credit card statements and see how you’re spending your money. This will also give you a good idea of areas where you can save a few pounds. Cutting down on luxuries or switching to cheaper brands are just two ways you can comfortably save a bit extra and help you budget effectively.
Check your entitlements
It is worthwhile checking whether you are receiving all the benefits and child tax credits you are entitled to – if you are missing out on extra cash, it could make all the difference to your budget. 
Food shopping
Cutting down on your food bills needn’t mean you have to starve – try purchasing cheaper alternatives or supermarket own brands to save on the pennies. Another idea is to carefully plan your meals for the week so you don’t waste any food that you don’t end up using. Buying fresh food in season is likely to be cheaper and better for you.
Bills, bills, bills
Compare prices for your gas/electricity, car and home insurance, broadband, telephone, mobile phones and television. For instance, if you’re on an expensive entertainment package, consider switching to Freeview. Browse around for the best deals by comparing prices online, and go for the cheapest options. Comparison websites can even do most of the hard work for you, so there’s no good reason to delay starting getting the savings.
Shop savvy
Take a look at reward and loyalty schemes. Earn points that can be used on toiletries, groceries and other essential purchases later on. This will leave you a little extra to spend on treats for the kids or days out somewhere fun.
Unexpected bills
No matter how carefully you budget, sometimes an unexpected expense can throw a spanner in the works, such as emergency home repairs, or having to buy new kids’ shoes. Try to set a little extra aside to build up a buffer to help you cope with those situations. It’s often tempting to try to borrow your way out of trouble but that is never the answer. Only borrow what you are sure you can repay and make sure that you if you do need to borrow, there are no hidden charges.
Having a family can be tough on the wallet, but with careful budgeting, meal planning, consumer deals and savvy shopping, you can find ways to save money and still have fun together. For more saving money tips, please visit Myjar.

This post was written in partnership with MyJar

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