Raising a family today costs parents thousands of pounds every year, but there are ways to reduce that cost if you know how.

If you could save money on childcare and the club’s and activities you enrol your children into, that money could go a long way and be used on other essentials.

Here are just three things you can do to reign back some of your hard earned money:
Start a babysitting circle
Starting a babysitting circle allows you and your fellow mums to save money and relax in the knowledge that your children are being looked after by a trusted familiar face.

It’s a great way to save money by not having to fork out for babysitters – and it means you don’t have to pay twice for an evening out.

Some babysitting rings are usually quite informal and you’d just do a ring around to see who is free on the day or evening you need someone to watch over your child.

To avoid upset about mums not doing their fair share, you can use a token system. When you babysit for someone in the babysitting circle, you are given a token. This can then be exchanged when you need someone to look after your children.

Don’t pay for clubs and activities for the kids
Yes, you read right! Most schools have various extra-curricular clubs that your kids will want to join (and should be encouraged as it is vital for their health, wellbeing and social skills). But they aren’t cheap, and with most families tightening their belts,  the hefty fees might mean that your child misses out.

There are free or low-cost activities and clubs in your local area
Tesco is just one of example – it runs weekly ‘after school skills’ courses where your child can get football training under the FA coaching model. With sessions costing just £1 or £2 a week during term time and free in the summer, this is affordable for everyone. To find your nearest one, click here.

Not all children are into football, granted, so if your child has their sights set on Wimbledon, they could get free tennis coaching for 50 weeks of the year. Simply go to theTennis for Free website and type in your postcode.

Failing that, most leisure centres off free swimming sessions for children year round, and you, the accompanying adult only has to pay a small fee.

Are you claiming the benefits you’re entitled to?
Being a working mum doesn’t always mean  that you’re not entitled to any benefits. You could be entitled to council tax credits, child tax credits or child benefit. Visit direct.gov to research exactly what you should be eligible for.

Changes to child benefit recently came into play, which means that not everyone is entitled to claim because of as legislative change – read our article to find out more.

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