Whether you’re on a budget or receiving parenting payment for your kids, there’s no...Read More →
Most people would like to save for the future, whether it is for a holiday, retirement or potential emergencies. Saving money gives a lot of freedom and offers possibilities, but living on a limited income such as the parental payment doesn’t always make it easy. The Parenting Payment is a benefit from the government given to principal carers of children younger than eight years if you are single and six years if you are a couple. It is meant as a help for families living on a small income. If that’s you, and if you want to learn some tips on how to save money, read on. Here are ten ways you can save money when living on a parenting payment:
One of the biggest temptations of living on a small income is to get credit or take a loan. If you already have debt, make a reasonable plan to pay it off as soon as you can, so you can avoid paying too much interest. If you are lucky enough to not have any debt yet, it is a good idea to simply avoid it altogether. Any debt, whether it’s a credit card or a loan, is going to make life more expensive than it needs to be because it always involves fees and interest. If you do need a credit card or a loan, make sure to research well and choose the right deal for you. You can also avoid fees and interest by paying back the full amount due each month. It can feel like you have more money, if you postpone payment, but it does make you pay more in the end.
Cooking at home instead of eating out is one of the best known parenting tips out there. Brew your own coffee, make packed lunches for yourself and the kids and avoid buying bottled water and snacks when you are out. It may not seem like there is a lot of money to save, but a little cash here and there can build up fast. Cooking at home has two other benefits: It means that you can plan how much you spend on food, and you get full control of what you and your kids put in your mouths. Buying groceries in the supermarket takes away any insecurity – you can plan exactly what you spend and won’t run into situations where you “have to” buy food that’s more expensive or more unhealthy than you intended.
This leads us to one of the other popular parenting tips for saving, which is to plan your shopping. Shopping for pleasure is something almost all of us do and that leads to unnecessary spending. If you plan your shopping for example two weeks ahead, you will only spend what you have planned. Set up rules for yourself about what you can buy and when. Make a meal plan and go for discounted items at the grocery store. Buy generic items instead of brand items. Some stores have their own store brand which is usually cheaper than regular brands. Brand name soaps, lotions and shampoos can be especially expensive. You can even make your own lotions and creams, if you are up for it.
It’s hard to save more than a couple of dollars here and there on small expenses. It’s in areas such as rent, gas and transportation that you can really make a big difference. Here are a few ideas on how you can save on big expenses:
Rent takes up a big chunk of most people’s monthly expenses. See if you can sublet a room, refinance your mortgage, move to a cheaper area or rent a smaller apartment.
A car is an expensive way to travel. It’s not always possible to get by without one – but sometimes it is. If you are lucky enough to live close to the office and school, public transport is a cheaper alternative to a car. Walk or bicycle when possible, or do all your errands in one go so you won’t have to drive back and forth multiple times. You can save some money by keeping the car for as long as possible before buying a new one, and by buying second hand.
Utilities such as phone, electricity, gas and water can swallow a lot of cash. A way to save on these areas is to keep showers short, turn off appliances when they are not being used and pay all bills on time. Rethink what entertainment you (don’t) need. Choose the right mobile, internet and TV plans for you. If you for example know you only need to call someone occasionally and text for the rest, choose a plan with free texts and a bigger charge per minute. Consider ditching all the expensive satellite channels and keep the few you actually watch.
If you are a stay at home parent, you can work a few hours a day from home. Many companies now hire freelancers online for jobs such as data entry, writing, translating, designing, comment moderation and online customer service. Even though you won’t earn a full salary, any money you make this way is extra and can be saved for the future.
Look at your bank statement and your receipts for reference and write down in a spread sheet or note book exactly how much you spend on what. Ask yourself if there are areas where you can cut down. Sometimes, we don’t notice the small cash that we spend here and there. Only by sitting yourself down and calculating your budget, you can figure out exactly how much you spend and where you can save.
Clothes, shoes, furniture, cars and bicycles are just some of the things you can buy second hand. Buying second hand can lower costs of necessities, and most cities in Australia have many options to choose between from your local charity to websites where you can swap or take over free stuff. Second hand clothes aren’t always worn – a lot of the stuff that is donated has never been used or has been used only a few times. You can find great items for a fragment of the original price. If you don’t like the idea of shopping second hand, or if you need to buy something that needs to be new for sanitary reasons such as mattresses, it can pay off to get a few good quality items that will last long instead of buying cheap items that won’t last.
Some people find it very useful to withdraw the money for the weekly budget and put it in an envelope. That way, they can see the money physically disappear as they spend it. Some feel that the pain of paying “real” cash money discourages overspending. It can also help you visualise how much money you have for a given period of time.
Conventional entertainment like dining out, going to the cinema or visiting an adventure park can be expensive in Australia. The good news is that it’s still possible to have fun on a budget. Instead of going to the movies, have a movie night at home with soda and popcorn. Make a picnic in your local garden or barbecue on the beach. Make a romantic dinner complete with candles and cook a delicious home cooked meal at home. Search for free or cheap activities in your area. You can for example take your kids swimming or biking.
Many find it hard to apply the same hard discipline to their kids as they apply to themselves. The kids deserve the best, right? But you can still give your kids a wonderful childhood when living on a budget. Saving money may mean less material goods for your kids in the moment. However, it will also mean more financial security and the chance to do meaningful things together in the future.
Saving money when living on a parenting payment is a challenge, but a challenge you can handle. Maybe you have to spend a little more time planning, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun or be happy. You and your children can still enjoy a life filled with love and activities on a budget. Saving money for your future is important and can offer a lot of freedom. Both you and your kids will appreciate the security of having a life free from financial stress. Having a little extra money in the bank account can give you the freedom to do the things you dream about, both for yourself and your children.
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