I often get asked how I fund my lifestyle as a single mother who works from home and relies on the unstable wage that comes with being self employed. In fact I’ve had some snide remarks that go alone with it, but aside from a few lucky breaks I’ve had in regards to travelling. I live on a very very strict budget and I’m always looking for ways to save money either in the now or in the long run. With the way the country is going, I’m never going to be rich, I’m probably never even going to own a house, but that doesn’t mean I want my daughter to ever miss out. Yes, I’d love for her to be privately schooled, I’d love to be able to drive and I’d love for her to have a nice lump sum to wake up to on her 18th or 21st birthday. None of those things will probably ever happen, but I want to look back on her childhood and know I manage to give her everything I could, within reason.
Today I’m not going to bore you all with pages of information on how I construct my incredibly detailed spreadsheet that helps me keep track of everything down to the last penny. Instead I’m going to give you a two part blog series about ways you can save money in the home and by making changes to your lifestyle. I firmly believe if you can put your mind to anything, you can achieve it.
Make sure you’re getting the cheapest deal for your amenities.
By this I mean your gas, electricity, water and even your home insurances. There are fab websites out there that can help you such as Money Supermarket and Go Compare. Some even offer incentives if you switch. Yes, it might seem like a faf, but if you save yourself £50 a month, that’s £600 a year… That’s a good chunk towards a holiday.
Always choose to be the most energy efficient.
Carrying on from the above point, always go the energy efficient route.. because not only are you going to save yourself money in the long run, you’ll be saving the Earth. Last winter I invested in a fan heater for my lounge and it worked out so much cheaper than constantly having the fire on. You can pick up some great value ones in Tesco. Gas is typically a lot more expensive than electricity. I also have all energy saving bulbs and I try to turn everything that isn’t in use off at the socket.
Do you really need the whole TV package?
I won’t lie, I do miss the ability to record live tv, but the amount of money I save every month by not having cable is unreal. I now make do with Freeview and I have a Netflix account which is so much cheaper! Not only that a lot of channels now offer the ability to watch their shows online such as E4 on Demand and BBC Player. I still have Sky for my internet and should I ever have spare cash flying around to get the TV side put back in, but I have to admit, I don’t miss it at all and I’d rather have that £30 in my pocket than theirs.
Be creative with your cupboard contents.
I try my hardest to do one big shop a month. Yes, I still need to pick up bread & milk weekly but aside from that, I avoid buying each week and instead buy in bulk once a month. This stops me going to supermarkets and buying things I don’t need and end up lying in my cupboards unused for months. When things are getting thin on the ground I pull everything I have left out of my cupboards and make a game of what I can make without going shopping. It’s fun, especially if LM gets involved.
Try shopping around.
When it comes to grocery shopping, I shop around.. I get some cupboard stuff from Aldi, frozen from Farmfoods and fresh from Morrisons. Again, it seems stupid and for anyone living in a city, it could be impractical.. but since I live in a small town everything is only a 5 minute drive away so I’m not using all my mum’s petrol up. This way I can get the best offers but also the best food for my budget. Another great thing to do is to search for supermarket coupons, often places like Tesco’s and Sainsburys have money off if you do your shopping online.
Empty your purse.
Every night I empty my purse of all change and put it into a jar. Sometimes if LM has been well behaved I’ll let her put it in her money box. Either way it’s money I get sorted and turned into the currency of where we’re going. It then becomes LM’s spending money and she can choose what she wants it to go on.
Sell on what you don’t need and buy second hand.
I’m obsessed with selling on things that I no longer need. I still give to charity but anything of value I list on eBay. You can also hold a blog sale.. and I love Gumtree. Not only do I sell stuff, but I buy a lot second hand too. I love going around the charity shops with my Nanny.. I love buying on eBay and I love picking up second hand toys from Facebook selling pages. I already have a big Disney princess castle I bought second hand for a tenner that I’ve cleaned up for LM’s Christmas. It’s so wonderfully vintage and probably cost me a quarter of what I’d have paid for it new.
These are just some of the very simple changes I’ve made to my lifestyle since becoming a single mother and having to provide of my daughter on a low income. It might seem like a lot of hard work but every month when I manage to put x amount into savings for our adventures I can assure you, it’s well worth it.
What are you tips to saving money around the home?