Category Archives: The Great British Budget

Frugally Mummy: The Cost of a Child

joy jarWhen Daisy hit a year old, I started to get questioned a lot about whether or not I was planning to have more children.  A natural assumption I guess, that I would, at some point, want to think about extending the family.  It’s often something I talk about with the Mum Mafia – and with recent events at Peachy HQ, I can’t help but think about the financial investment any child you bring into the world becomes.

Recently, I was sent an interesting report from LVE Insurance, who had put together a detailed analysis of how much a child is likely to cost – from birth, right through to University.  The results are staggering – an average cost of a child until the age of 21 is almost £228,000!  And what’s even more scary?  It seems to be growing every year!  the report is available here for you to feast your eyes on – costs have been averaged, explained and even mapped across different parts of the country.  In my Midlands dwellngs, it appears Miss D may well cost me £223,388 over the next 20 years which, if you consider the costs of University fees, school uniforms, trips and childcare, spread over the years, seems a fair amount – averaging £30 per day.  So imagine if that number was doubled or tripled with more than one child?  Do we all bank on just one of our children wanting to go to Uni?  How do we even begin to save for a secure future for our children, a future that offers the very best of choices for them?  Luckily for me, I’m not really a fan of averages – and I pride myself on not falling between the lines of average in pretty much any walk of life!  Rather than worry Miss D’s childhood away whittling about uncapped tuition fees, I prefer to be proactive with what little we have, in order to save for our future.

Babies are expensive, so they say – just a glance at the report details areas of expense such as furniture and hobbies, that I believe can provide real areas of financial growth – with a bit of creative thinking (what else would I be suggesting?!) and bargain hunting!  I can’t really comment on the school years or readying funds whilst your eldest is busy filling out their UCAS applications; but I can tell you that you CAN save during that first, tempestuous year of becoming a parent…here are my top tips to get saving for your child’s future during their first year.

1. Save a Little, Whenever You Can

You know that age-old saying, ‘Look After The Pennies And The Pounds Look After Themselves?’  I’ve come to learn there is a whole lot of truth to this and never more prevalent than when you’re adjusting to a new financial setting, with a new baby.

At the end of last month, I introduced a ‘Joy Jar’ into my home; a little jar of shrapnel, loose change and little bits I’d saved from our weekly budget, to act as a physical reminder of what we CAN save when we put our minds to it!   Well, month one brought us a fabulous £16 – saved without even thinking about it and ready to be put towards something special at the end of the year.  If you can’t put huge chunks of money aside each month, something like a Joy Jar serves as a great way to start saving just a little, whenever you can – no added pressure from direct debits and a great way to save for the future.

Daisy window2. Give Yourself A Regular Financial Overhaul

The most boring, but essential tip of all!  Nobody likes sitting down with spreadsheets and calculators – well nobody I know anyway, but in order to start saving in a year in which you have to adapt so readily to a new way of life, you need to know where every precious penny is going and how you can be continually making your money work for you.  I’m no Martin Lewis, but I like to sit down at least once a month and work out what I’m spending, where I’m spending it and how I can spend less – easily done for someone who is doing a year without the High Streets – but even food shopping can be made a little cheaper if you take the convenience out of it.

Equally, if you have a little debt to pay off, make sure you are taking the time, each month, to work out how much you have already paid off and what’s left to go – this can be so motivational to see how much of a dent you might have made already and can even encourage a bit of extra ‘thrift’ in your purse habits to get things paid off a little quicker!

I’m not suggesting you make best friends with your Excel program (unless you want to), but regular financial checks will help to keep you on top of your money management and will work better for you long-term.

3. New Parent?  Check Out What’s On Offer For You

As much as I detest the amount of junk mail that comes sailing through my letterbox on a weekly basis, as a new parent who (probably) sleepily signed up to Bounty and all sorts, whilst doing their rounds on the Maternity Wards, sometimes it doesn’t hurt to sift through and take advantage of some of the great deals that are on offer to you.

I’m not talking sale shopping here (I’m living without the High Street – it would be wrong of me to endorse that), but it’s worth tapping into the great Parenting events that are on offer at Supermarkets, which often offer fantastic deals on every day essentials – not to mention local events such as Tabletop and Jumble sales, which may really help stock up on clothing and toys, for a fraction of the full cost.

4. Thrifting and Sharing = Caring (For Your Bank Balance)

If you’re a regular reader of Frugally Peachy, you’ll know that I’m all about leading a creative and thrifty lifestyle – no High Street shopping, a unique approach to the word ‘savvy’ and I try to post as much handmade and homemade inspiration for your family, your home, your meal times and your own lifestyle as I can muster.  Being of the creative ilk has its benefits, but even if you’re not cut from that cloth, there are plenty of places you can look to save money when buying for your home and for your baby.

Whilst ‘kiddy consumerism’ denotes and displays the latest ‘must-have items’, simply checking your nearest computer for Gumtree and eBay can knock off huge amounts of money for life-saving instruments, such as the classic Jumperoo.  I’ve been very lucky to be given some fantastic traditional toys for Miss D that need little more than a quick wash and brush up with soapy water, before they are returned to their former glory.  Ultimately, D also doesn’t care where they come from, or how many children have loved and used them before – she sleeps with a stuffed cow that is visible in early photos of my birth, after all!  Aside from the over-loved, bare-furred cuddly toys of old, most ‘must-have’ toys are something of a short term novelty for any child during their first year – is it really worth piling hundreds into something that’s likely to be kicked around (by you – probably) for two months before it heads off to the great toy cemetery to rest in nearly-new, wasteful peace?

5. Curb Your Coffee Enthusiasm

Getting coffee has become something of a second nature in modern society and, truth be told, there is nothing better than sipping a piping hot, creamy Chai Latte on a Sunday stroll.  But, if you are looking to save money – this is one of the simplest ways to start.  Say no to the endless coffee dates – tempting as they may be and invest in a decent Thermos!

Back in my previous life in London, I confess to indulging in at least three Skinny White Mochas per week – that worked out to be a WHOPPING £33 a month I was shelling out for the comfort of a milky drink on a cold (or warm) day.  I decided to test the psychology of ‘getting coffee’, by purchasing a thermos flask and bringing my own drink to work.  Such a simple trick not only worked in the short term, but has served to save me almost £400 over a year – when you add up the annual cost, is it a habit really worth keeping?

6. Invest In a Little Second-Hand Karma

Just before D’s Birthday – I had a big sort out of old clothes that I had accumulated over the past year.  A whole 3 small cases later, I am about to invest in some second-hand karma with blog sales, eBay loving and a bit of charity thrown in too.

Aside from a few unfortunate items of clothing, children rarely over-use their clothes in the first year of life.  For 6 months they are almost immobile and for the other 6, you are trying to fathom how and where you managed to grow a wardrobe the size of the Theatre Royal’s costume department for your tiny child.  As a great believer in second-hand karma; what you put into the second-hand world, you will get back, threefold, I am constantly checking our local charity shops for bargains and projects for me, D and our home – why not sift through the teeny tiny baby clothes you’ve been clinging on to and get funding your little one’s next size wardrobe?  Better still, sift out your old maternity wear and make way for some fab eBay purchases for yourself!

wardrobe 3

So there we have it, not rocket science and clearly not avoiding some of the unavoidable costs of raising a young child.  But hopefully these tips are a great way to start managing your money differently and thinking about how you will fund the next twenty years – providing a little chink in that £228,000 you’ll be needing handy in future!

Stay Peachy x

 

Reflections: Things Falling Apart

Mirror 1Well, I can’t believe I’m two months in to my Frugally Fabulous Year!  Time is marching swiftly forward and guess what?  I’m still somewhat withering around my sewing machine at the moment.  Those ace clothes are NOT going to sew themselves!  Luckily, for me, I have the wonderful Laura Strutt here – not personally but in book form, to show me the ropes and I’ve been looking forward to settling down and overcoming my fears for a very long time now!  I guess February just ran away with me…

What with the chaotic wonderment that was #MidsBlogMeet, our #CraftBlogClub challenge, Mr J’s Birthday, the arrival of Mortal Instruments from Lovefilm AND about 6 other writing and crafting WIPs – I have barely had time to sit down and think about my sewing machine, let alone fathom my fears.

The trouble is, whilst I’ve been busy with life this month, everything else is starting to fall apart; the buttons on my coat have nearly all fallen off, my oven gloves have seen much better days, my slippers are cracking on the soles and my wardrobe is starting to look somewhat lacklustre.  It’s time to face the music!

Wardrobe 2On the other hand….a good Tweeple Buddy asked me the other day about how I might track my savings through my Frugally Fabulous Year?  It got me thinking about how I could do this – without boring the pants off my readers with facts, figures and somewhat personal accounting!  It’s tough – the majority of our money comes from Mr J’s earnings and, whilst we are trying to live frugally, we are also paying off debt.  The good news?  My final payment from my previous job FINALLY arrived this month and has allowed me to pay off a debt I incurred whilst I ran Miss Berry’s.  It feels amazing to have that relief wash over me – I can only imagine what the end of my Frugally Fabulous Year will look like!  I spent just £8 on cosmetics this month – extremely frugal in comparison to an average of £20-30 when I was working full time.  But perhaps I need to start monitoring even more closely?    For now…here are my Frugal Tips for tracking your savings!

1. Budgeting

Mr J is not big on financial budgeting, but I see it as a necessity to ensure we know exactly what we have coming in and going out each month.  I don’t always profess to be as meticulous as I should be – but I’m definitely getting there.  In particular, setting yourself a food/entertainment/travel budget for the month is a great way to really monitor how you’re spending and also look at how/where you can save.

2. Change Your Ways?

Whilst we are on the subject of food budgeting, this is one of the areas I am really looking at saving.  For ease, I have often booked one to two online shopping deliveries a month, whilst stocking up on fresh produce at our local greengrocer’s.  Recently, I’ve turned my weekly shops into several smaller shops, where I can, whilst really looking at where I can make the best savings.  Ok, so carrying my shopping can be a bit of a drag, but I’m saving about £10 a month on delivery costs.  Plus, shopping with smaller, cheaper brands or local suppliers has also meant a saving of almost £12 a week (yup, I’m becoming THAT person) – which translates roughly to a saving of £624 over a year – that’s some festival tickets and a chunk of the ‘Swedish Dream’ right there!  I have already started to draw relationships between Money and Convenience, it seems if you are serious about saving money, convenience has to go out the window!

receipt reflections3. Don’t Be Loyal to Brands, They Aren’t Loyal To You

When I was pregnant, like most people, I stood in the middle of Boots baby aisle, completely befuddled by the sheer amount of branding, products and general colours being thrown at me.  I have always prided myself on keeping things to a good, but necessary minimum – I’m not easily sold on baby gadgets especially – the trick is to sort through what you need and what you don’t!  It’s easy to get bombarded with constant 3 for 2 offers and discounts – the new parent market especially is a hive of activity for offer emails, special events and what not.  But in making your purchases, no matter how ‘loyal’ you think a brand is, remember that all they really want is your money (I see Johnson and Johnson, I think ‘Johnson and Formaldehyde’)!  Clever advertising can go a long way to make you feel you are missing something important by not making that purchase, but the truth is you can most probably go without it – or at least go without the last minute eye-catching add-ons and special offers.

4. Don’t Turn Your Advantage Points Into Disadvantage Points

All that aside, if you shop religiously at one place, get all your cosmetics from Boots or drink all your coffees in one coffee house, then make sure their loyalty cards ARE working for you.  These days, most big names are offering a loyalty card at practically every paying counter you head to.  Prior to having D, I picked up loyalty cards for Starbucks, Holland and Barrett and Waterstones – to name a few.  Well almost a year on these cards remain redundant in my wallet, they’re not worth the space they take up and they certainly don’t encourage me to want to spend any more with these companies.  Now I’m probably not the best to judge, being that the whole point of my Frugally Fabulous Year is to NOT shop on the High Street, but it seems to me that if you do shop with one shop, you might as well make sure you get the very best of their offers and points benefits.  Why not have a look through the loyalty cards you have stashed in your wallet?  Have you got cards that are encouraging you to spend more than you should in places you know you shouldn’t?  Do you have loyalty cards that could work much harder for you?  This will take all of five minutes, but could save you a little bit of cash money AND make sure you are shopping in the RIGHT places for you!

5. Make Yourself a Joy Jar!

Once you’ve done the hard work – if you find you save a little bit – be it £1 or £10, why not physically take that money out and pop it in a ‘Joy Jar’? joy jar Here’s one I made earlier!  I think there is a lot to be said, psychologically, for being able to see, in the flesh, just how much money you are saving.  Once the jar is full, you can pop it in a savings account, sort yourself out with a much-longed for treat or p**s it up the wall, it really is up to you!  I intend to start using my jar to physically chart how much money I save each month – why not do the same?

Well, it is with a fondness that I bid my Frugal February adieu…it’s been wonderful, full of love, lust and knitting needle clicking – I shall see you on the other side in March, which wil undoubtedly be one of the most special months for me this year!

Stay Peachy x

 

 

The Great British Budget – From The Heart, For The Wallet

Join the Great British Budget ChallengeWell, we are nearly a month into the Great British Budget challenge, nearly two into my Frugally Fabulous Year and I thought I’d reflect a little on how I’m doing and, more to the point, how I got here.

Everyone’s financial journey starts somewhere.  I grew up in a single-parent family, money wasn’t something we talked about in great detail but I knew how things were.  We didn’t have a car, we had a lovely little house and I never felt I wanted for anything.  My Mum was truly inspirational as someone who balanced part-time work with full-time Motherhood.  We had wonderful holidays, trips and, above all, a very happy time of it.  Our family has roots deep in memories and experiences, less so things.  I really feel this has shaped my view of the sort of Mum I want to be to my daughter.

In 2012, we were hit with the news that little Daisy was on her way.  We had no savings, we were just about to move into our own rented place and I was reluctantly heading back into full-time work, knowing full well that this was not a long term option, once the babe was here.  Like most people our age, Mr J and I carried a little debt.  Mine was the result of a failed and not-thought-out business model, a struggle to live a balanced life in London and almost ten years of being in over-worked and under-paid managerial positions.  That’s not a sob story, that’s how it was. newborn Daisy It struck me, as I knew I was growing a little, helpless human being inside me, that talk of savings and pensions were a thing of the past, something our parents had been encouraged to do, not our own generation of credit cards, student loans and ‘living for the moment’.  Pensions were not readily on offer in our jobs; our peers and circle of friends lived like we did, from day to day, with little thought to a financial future.  I didn’t take on either challenge because I was poor with money, it was more about learning to budget and contribute to a secure future, in whatever way I can.

Being pregnant completely changed my outlook on things.  If you’ve read my previous posts you’ll be aware how adamant I was about not returning to my former work.  I realised that it was time to wake up and put dreams into action, my life-long dreams of being a WAHM, an author, a freelance writer and an all-round creative home-bird!  With Daisy’s arrival, came the arrival of a fresh start.  And with that fresh start, came the need to clean up financially and start looking to the future.  This means clearing ALL our debts, seriously looking at pension plans and saving money for ourselves and our family.  I have dreams of saving for a family trip to Sweden, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned that before (about a million times in less than two months)

As part of the Great British Budget, I signed up to use Money Hub; a great financial tool set up by the lovely people over at Your Wealth, to help you track your money, savings, expenditure and budgeting, by inputting your annual income, assets etc.  The great thing about this tool, is that you can use it as much or as little as you like.  Premium members can link the tool to their accounts so it does the hard work for them, or you can simply sign up for an account and create a budget that works for you.

So far, since joining the Great British Budget, I’ve stuck to my monthly food budget, have even geeked-out and completed price-comparison shops to see just how much I’m saving by changing my food-shopping habits (more on this later – you lucky lot) and I’ll be ending my Frugal February just within budget.  Using Money Hub has, so far, helped me to see exactly what money I have and exactly where each penny is going – for someone who isn’t good with figures, it has helped me to look realistically at the bigger picture and see where I can improve our financial status each month.  Depressing as it sounds, teaching yourself the ‘spreadsheet’ side of frugal is a necessity when it comes to clearing debts and Money Hub has been a wonderful tool in helping me .  I look forward to seeing where it takes me over the next year!  And I hope you’ll continue to read about my journey!

me black and whiteStay Peachy x

DISCLAIMER: As a Great British Budget Panellist, I was offered the chance to try Money Hub for free, though the tool has both free and paid-for options.  All opinions are my own and I was not paid for this post.

I’m a Great British Budget Expert!!

Join the Great British Budget ChallengeWell, how’s this for a little extra Saturday post, readers!!! I thought I’d write a little post about the new Great British Budget initiative that launches in February…and with a name like Frugally Peachy, you can guess who is on the panel, right??

Set up by the lovely people at Your Wealth, The Great British Budget aims to tackle the problem of rising debt in British households, by introducing Budgeting as a fun way of saving, taking control of your money and making your financial goals a reality.  The Great British Budget isn’t even just for people struggling with debt, it’s a way of learning to control your outgoings, get creative with your money and achieve your dreams.  With lots of budgeting tools and *expert* advice from the Blogger panel; why not join in and make 2014 a debt-free year?

So, why did I decide to join the Blogger panel???  Well, if you’ve read about my Frugally Fabulous Year so far, you’ll be aware that 2014 is something of a pivotal year for my family.  Having taken the very brave decision to leave my job, look after my baby daughter full time and pursue a creative writing career, it is safe to say that budgeting and cutting back are BIG NEWS in our family, now.  We work extremely hard to live a comfortable, fun lifestyle without the so-called ‘price-tag’ but, like everyone, we have a little debt to pay off and not a huge disposable income.

But it’s not just about money itself.  I want 2014 to be the year I really get behind my desire to be self-sufficient and succeed in my journey to live without the High Street, hone my creativity and save money by getting nifty with my sewing machine and knitting needles.  If we could clear our debts by the end of 2014 AND be on our way to save for our dream family holiday – a road trip to Sweden, I’d be happy.  I guess I want to prove that you don’t have to give up EVERYTHING to save money, a little bit of creative thinking, a little bit of cutting back can go a long way.  And I’m looking forward to joining the Great British Budget on this journey.

So, in February, I will be budgeting and tracking every penny of our wages and trying to stick to a healthy ‘luxuries’ budget of £50 for the month.  For all of us.  I’m also looking forward to joining the February Photo Challenge – why not join in too??  Head over to @YourWealthUK and start tweeting, be sure to keep up to date with the latest news from the #GreatBritishBudget and see just how much you can save, with us!

Photo Challenge

Photo Challenge

Stay Peachy x