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 |  Budgeting

Now that I’m on maternity leave for the next 12 months, my monthly income has more than halved. At the end of my leave (last 3 months) I’ll be earning zilch. Nada. Nothing. With a mortgage, childcare costs, usual household bills etc I need to find ways to make all that fit. We have savings, but they are an emergency safety net and I don’t want to dip into them. So, here’s my plan:

  • Meal plans: I did meal planning for a while last year, and it helped me organise my evenings and optimise my shopping. I then ended up pregnant and morning all day sickness meant I had to ‘go’ with cravings. I think I could probably save £20-£30 per week by reintroducing weekly meal plans.
  • Making & baking: I am a sucker for buying delicious looking cakes, takeaway pizzas, carb-y snacks… all things I can easily make at home and for a fraction of the cost.
  • Cancelling my meat boxes: monthly organic meat boxes are no longer in my budget range; lentils and beans are going to be on my menu this year.

Things I do that I can tweak/step up a notch:

  • Cloth nappies: Oliver has been in cloth since birth; we’re using a mixture of some new shaped Lollipop Bamboo size 1s and Isabel’s old stash. I plan to save more here by using indoor airers and the washing line to dry them instead of relying on the tumble drier. I will sell on the size 1s when Oli outgrows them.
  • Sell off old stuff: I regularly ebay off old stuff but I’ve got bags and bags of Isabel’s old clothes gathering dust which I could sort through and sell; tons of nerdy books that would be more useful to some of you lot etc. I need to hold an online jumble sale!
  • Use my skills: I’m a competent web developer and a blogger of over 10 years… if I can’t use that to make some pocket money I need shooting :P

Lastly, there are things I won’t be doing. Things that would usually be recommended to those on a budget but would actually cost me more:

  • Ditching the second car: One of my biggest expenses when I was on maternity leave with Isabel was daily bus fare, and the ticket I’d need to get around is now £6. I could put that £6 of petrol (gas) into my car and get a few days travel minimum. The insurance etc is all paid for so unless something drastic falls off, it makes more sense to keep on driving.
  • Ditching the organic veg box delivery: I get my veg and milk delivered every Thursday by Riverford, eggs every fortnight and a fruit bag every 3 weeks. I could scrap this all off but having this stuff delivered saves me nipping to the shop for a pint of milk, only to come away with a pack of biscuits, tub of Ben & Jerry’s etc. If anything, I could probably save more money by adding some of my other weekly purchases to my order.

I’m hoping that combined, this will save me £150+ per month. Not being at work (and thus not splurging on lunches and cake from the café next door) should save me an additional £20+ monthly. If I can make this work, we’ll only be down about £250 per month after maternity pay. Child tax credits may even cover some of that.

Are you budgeting? What easy-to-implement things have I not thought of? If I can get our outgoings down, it’ll help with my long term plan to drop my work hours down… but more on that another day :)

Jem Turner +44(0)7521056376

12 comments so far

  1. Emsz said:

    I think it helps with the meal planning if you look at the circulars for you local shops, and incorporate stuff from those if they have good enough deals :)

  2. Melissa said:

    I’ve found my self running a house of 3 (and the dog) with me being the only earner so I’ve been budgeting myself a lot recently.

    If to haven’t already, check out Martin Lewis’s moneysavingexpert website – it’s fantastic and the forums are full of amazing ideas.

    On my last shopping from Tesco Online, I tried the downshift challenge – ie dropping from brand names to own brand. It was £35 cheaper than my usual shop and we didn’t notice a difference on much of the food – though I must admit some of the fresh stuff did taste ‘cheaper’. And I’ve been using 99p shampoo for months and nobody, including me, has noticed a difference in my hair!

    Also, mysupermarket is great for pointing out where you can make savings by downshifting or taking advantage of an offer through a different supermarket & offering any vouchers available for your particular store.

  3. Stephanie said:

    I joined a couponing site that compiles coupons for the stores you shop at and the foods you like, and they send you a weekly e-mail with all the coupons for your shopping. I also like using Mint, the personal finance software, to keep track of my spending.

    Best of luck! <3

  4. Veronica said:

    Second what Emsz said! Remember seeing something once on TV about this lady that clipped coupons and bought/cooked the meals for the week based off what was on sale and in the ads and she saved tons. I try to at least look at the weekly ads especially if I know I am going to go grocery shopping that week, and it does help to save some money here and there (I love buy one get one free :3).

  5. Mumblies said:

    You could stop shopping at Tesco and use Asda instead. They sell all the things you get and most likely cheaper, they deliver which saves on petrol costs and if your shopping bill costs over £40 you can check your costs online and when your bill is less that the other big supermarkets you get discount vouchers that you can print off and use that against your next shop.

    You could also try Aldi or Lidl, both offer a much cheaper range of goods, admittedly many are not named brands but they are mostly as good as the brands you use and are familar with and you can save a fortune shopping there instead.

    Switch to chick crumbs instead of the litter you use now, a 25kg bag costs around £9:00 is biodegradable therefore could be dumped onto a compost heap after instead of going in the bin and help produce compost for your garden.

    Your veggie box also helps feed flymo and gingerpig so that would be another good reason not to dump your box and stick with the organic veggies.

  6. Jennifer said:

    Try to do at least some of your shopping at a cheaper supermarket (I use Aldi for most staples and try to pick up something I haven’t tried each time I go in, just in case it’s better than Tesco’s version.) It’s easier to avoid “ooh, that looks weird/tasty!” impulses if you go in with your normal (I’ll assume Tesco) shopping list before you do your weekly Tesco shop. :)

    Also it sounds really basic, but try to take the time to go through all of your household costs and make sure that you’re with the cheapest supplier, or on the best value tariffs for everything. Especially with energy going through the bloody roof this year!

    … Basically just do everything they tell you to do on and join the forums.

    And just, uh. Don’t buy anything. :D

  7. Kathleen said:

    Here are a couple of things that worked for me:
    – We stopped drinking bottled water. Instead we bought a Brita filter. You won’t save the big bucks there, but every little bit works of course.
    – We work with a meal plan and go grocery shopping once a week. If possible, try doing your groceries online and pick them up or have them delivered. You won’t get distracted by the cookies and other snacks. ;)
    – Cancel your magazine subscriptions. Just have as little subscriptions as possible, which also means online subscriptions.
    – If possible: try using a prepaid phonecard. Only use your mobile when it’s
    urgent and use Skype for all the other conversations.

    And yes, read those frugal blogs. They are full of interesting ideas and tips and tricks.

  8. Karl said:

    We don’t do bottled water.. :) Nor magazines. Nor phones really..about a tenner every few months..TV, no..water meter – no saving would be had, not at this point. Electric could be whittled down, but we’re fairly good with it as it stands. is controlled to 19 degrees..or did I move the setpoint to 18? Rarely cuts in – well insulated house. It does cut in for an hour every night to warm Izzy’s bathwater up though. No other real alternative..

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