Top tips for families on a budget

By Will Keall

In between raising a family, paying off a mortgage, trying to maintain the house and car, and affording a holiday every now and then, it’s no wonder some of us tend to get ourselves into some financial strife. It’s an expensive world we live in - but it doesn’t have to be all or nothing when it comes to keeping yourself out of debt whilst still maintaining a comfortable lifestyle. 

Here are a few tips for families on a budget.

Make a budget and stick to it
First things first – actually create a weekly or monthly budget that allows for essential bills and expenses, as well as other non-essential items. Depending on your financial situation, you may have to cut down your non-essential spending quite a bit to keep to the budget. 

Then comes the hard part – sticking to the budget! Leave a little wiggle room for unexpected expenses, however be as firm as you need to be with yourself to keep out of the red.  

It’s a good idea to record what you spend and reconcile it against your budget, so that you can easily see whether you are on track or not.

Shop around for the best deal 
Don’t just go with the first option you see when it comes to ongoing costs such as health/car/house insurance, gym membership, or internet and phone provider. Take the time to compare brands and know exactly what they are providing for the cost. 

Create a weekly meal plan and cook your own food
Food can be a huge expense for the family – however planning meals and cooking the majority of your food at home can reduce this cost a huge amount. 

Keeping to simple, healthy meals with only a few ingredients minimises the stress of cooking, and works out much cheaper than ordering takeout most nights, especially if you cook large portions and freeze the leftovers for easy mid-week dinner or lunch options. Shop seasonally to get the freshest and cheapest vegetables and fruit.

Shop with cash
We are all familiar with the feeling of checking our credit card bill and seeing that we have spent more than we realised. Using cards makes it hard for us to visualise how much we are actually spending. Swap the card for cash and boost your awareness – no doubt this will make you think twice about whether you really need that particular item right now. The downside of paying with cash is that the transaction won’t appear on your statement, so it’s important to be disciplined in keeping receipts and ensuring that you still track your expenditure to compare with your budget.

Make payments automatic
Phone bill, utility bills, gym memberships, mortgage repayment and/or rent: If these come out automatically as soon as they are due, then they can’t be forgotten about. This means no more late fees, and no more spending your money on non-essential items before remembering that huge bill that came through two weeks ago.

Buy second hand
Budgets are always associated with going without – you don’t have to give up on buying an iPad or having a decent television, just consider buying these sorts of things second hand. Purchasing household appliances and gadgets second hand can save you hundreds, and you will get just as much use out of the items as you would a new item if they are under a year old when you buy them.

Find free/cheap family fun 
There are plenty of community activities happening all year round – particularly if you live near a capital city. Look online or in the local newspaper for events that could be of interest to you or the rest of your family, and enjoy family days out without the hefty price tag of a theme park or adventure park. 

Will Keall, iMortgage’s general manager, has a wealth of marketing and business development experience gained in Australia and the United Kingdom. These include high level roles in a range of sectors such as financial services, insurance, travel and tourism, motoring and professional services.

Will played a pivotal role in the successful establishment of iMortgage. His dedication and passion for the mortgage industry have won Will the utmost respect as an integral part of the iMortgage brand.

A self confessed “numbers and brand geek”, Will calls himself a conservative investor with a long-term philosophy. He also believes it’s important to “love where you live.”

Will is a cricket and football tragic, who also enjoys running.