Ever since we returned from our recent holiday to Sardinia the boys have been asking when we can go on holiday again. It’s sparked a love of travel and rekindled some much-needed quality family time which money simply can’t buy; unfortunately money is the underpinning precursor to any future travel plans. So planning is what I’ve been doing.
When it comes to money I’ve had my head in the sand a little recently. I’m balancing incomings and outgoings on a single wage but the nature of my job means invoices are paid sporadically and I often survive on a famine and feast cycle of work so I have to be very careful and disciplined.
Only I’m neither!
Historically, May and June have always been very expensive months for me as my children have their birthdays as well as my sister and then there’s treating my awesome Dad and Step Dad on father’s day, throw half term in the middle and that’s me pretty much spent out. To keep out of the red, I needed to cut back on other things so I’ve been keeping a diary of my spending over 10 days to see exactly where I can be a little more stringent and ways I can put some money aside for saving.
For anyone who’s never done this before, I can wholly recommend it! While informative, be prepared for a little shock. I’ve always considered myself to be quite a careful shopper, but in hindsight there’s certainly some cut backs to be made, and a little more discipline needed over impulse spending. Bottom line is I’m a working single mum bringing up 3 children but trying not to let them suffer for the whole family make up they’re still adapting to.
Over last week though, I spent £97 on eating out! That’s including impromptu coffees, impulsive / can’t be bothered to cook takeaways and date nights. Just cutting that by half would save me £2,522 a year. That alone would equal a decent family holiday. This is certainly one area I can be more careful.
Potential savings – £48.50
I topped up my car with £30 of petrol last week, which is pretty average. This was for essential shopping trips, a couple of longer trips for dentist and work appointments and some totally avoidable trips to drop off or pick up my son from pre-school (it was raining in my defence.) I think if I stop being lazy on the pre-school run (it’s a 10 minute walk so is totes lazy of me) and be a little more clever with my shopping, i.e; make sure I get everything in 1 shop instead of a few mini shops then I could bring my petrol spending down to £20 a week. That’s still £80 a month on top of repairs, tax and insurance which is something to consider when buying my next car and weighing it up against a newer one with cheaper running costs, tax, insurance and reliability.
Potential savings – £10
Last week’s food bill, in total, was £90.86. I try to keep it at around £60 which isn’t bad for a family of 4. The older boys have school dinners which cost me around £80 a month and I send my youngest to pre-school with a packed lunch twice a week and snacks on the other days. Given that the youngest 2 are at their dad’s 2 or 3 times a week that’s only 5 big meals I have to cook as my eldest & I do a WFOTF job (what falls out the freezer) By writing menus, then shopping lists and only replacing toiletries which have run out I can be A LOT more disciplined. My weaknesses are special offers, they get me every time. I need to stick to my list and ignore the potential savings. I currently have 3 hand washes sat under my sink, I have boys for heaven’s sake, we will never get through that amount of hand wash in a year let alone a month.
Potential savings – £30
Clothes / shoes
We recently had a family wedding which has meant having to buy some new clothes. I think I’ve been super careful though. I’ve bought a second-hand Ted Baker dress from eBay, second-hand waistcoats for 2 of the boys and posh trainers which I shopped around for and paid £97 for 3 pairs, they all needed new trainers so this was an essential spend. If I hadn’t been so shop savvy I would’ve spent £338, instead it’s cost me £191, with last week’s spending £141. I don’t usually spend that amount on clothes a week so can’t count that as a regular spend.
Potential saving – £0
As mentioned earlier, June is one of my expensive months for gifts so last week I spent £36 on gifts. I’m a giver though, not a bad quality to have, unless you’re trying to cut back! I guess that’s pretty normal though as I try to buy Christmas presents throughout the year so it’s not too painful come December.
Potential saving –£0
£88.50 a month which amounts to £4,602 a year is the amount I could be saving if I was a little more careful with my spending. When looking at it that way, that’s more than enough for the family holiday the boys and I are hankering after and maybe some to spare for a long weekend away. This has been a fantastic exercise to do and given me an opportunity to have a complete look at all my outgoings as well as ways I can make sure I’m living within my means and not using overdrafts and credit cards.
This is a collaborative post with Scottish Friendly