Time might not actually be money, but for most of us they certainly have a lot in common. You can never have enough of either. Other people always seem to have more ‘free’ time and money than you. And there’s always that niggling feeling that your bad habits mean you’re wasting both of them!

As a working mum, you’re probably well aware that a lot of money-saving ideas take time to implement – while a lot of time-savers don’t come cheap. However, one thing that can help you improve your financial stability with surprisingly little effort is a good budget.

how you could save money
Saving money begins, of course, with understanding it. Knowing where the money’s going can make it much easier to control it. In other words, a good budget should help you:

  • Spot areas where you’re wasting cash
  • Calculate how much you’re wasting every week/month/year
  • Figure out how much you could save if you did something about it

‘Saving money’ could mean finding a better utility package, shopping at a cheaper supermarket or leaving the car at home and just walking shorter distances. Budgeting gives different people different ideas about reining in their spending, so you won’t really know how you could benefit until you’ve drawn yours up.

If possible, once you’ve seen where you stand financially, it’s a great idea to earmark some of your money for savings every month. You could just set up a standing order to move an affordable amount across to a separate savings account – arrange this for straight after payday every month and you might not even miss it.

And budgeting doesn’t have to take a lot of time. Once you’ve worked out a good budget, you’ll just have to update it to make sure it reflects any changes in your situation.

Three out of five women (say they’ll) do it!
Around 58% of women see ‘sticking to a budget’ as a priority for 2013, according to a mid-December survey of over 2,000 people for thinkmoney.co.uk. Most men would agree, although slightly fewer (53%) of them listed it as a priority in the New Year.

So budgeting was far and away the most common priority for women in the New Year: even the classic ‘lose weight’ New Year’s resolution came nowhere close, at just 34% of female respondents.

In fact, budgeting even outranked ‘I’m not making any New Year’s resolutions’, even though a full 45% of women gave this answer.

And sticking to a budget doesn’t have to involve sheets and sheets of XL figures. Everyone budgets in different ways, and you’re free to track your finances in as much (or as little) detail as you like – there are plenty of high-quality resources online that’ll help you get started with a minimum of fuss.

What to do with the proceeds?
Once your budget’s in place and helping you cut your unnecessary spending (it’s always good to remain optimistic!), here’s something you’re bound to enjoy tracking – the amount of money you’re saving.

Counting up the savings you’ve made so far is a great way to stay motivated and keep up the good work. And if you’re looking for some motivation right now, think about how you could put that money to good use. You might decide to:

Overpay your debts. The quicker you can reduce them, the less you’ll have to pay in interest (just beware of early repayment charges). A full 31% of the women interviewed for thinkmoney’s survey said paying off non-mortgage debt was a priority for 2013.
Put it into savings. 27% of the women interviewed said they’d prioritise opening (or investing more in) a savings account or non-pension investment product. Of course, ‘saving’ could mean many different things. It could mean:
An account for something specific, like a holiday, or a car.
A generic rainy-day fund. There’s nothing like having money in the bank for a feeling of security.
Your kids’ accounts. Even if it’s only a small amount, it could get them off to a decent start when they hit 18.
Put it to work for you. Is there a project you’re dying to get started on? Or some technology / furniture that would make your work-at-home life more profitable, more comfortable, or just simpler?

Whatever your goals, keep them in mind. Just imagine how you’ll feel when you’ve cleared your debts – or you’re sitting in the newly decorated workspace that your budgeting efforts have paid for…

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