At the beginning of the month/end of the last month, we do all the math:
Lunches this is for school lunches – I work out how much school lunches (£9.25 per week) and snack money (50p each per week) will be nad put that amount in the envelople.
Fun – This basically covers the boys activities over a month – swimming lessons, (£3.10 per lesson), football practice (£2.00 per week), ducklings (£1 per session), toddlers (60p per session).
Fuel – We set aside a fixed amount for both of us each month, once I run out it is tough. MadDad does get mileage for any additional mileage he does to and from clients, so that covers his additional fuel in a month.
Groceries – Again a fixed amount per week to cover it all. I have found this has forced me to stick to my menu plans, to shop around, to make our own bread, biscuits and cakes. I also buy my washing products from this and nappies for MiniMad at night. I have also found that it pays to pop to the village butchers for my eggs as they are much less expensive and the local greengrocer for any veg we haven’t managed to grow.
We pay as many of our bills as we can by direct debit and keep a spreadsheet showing the expenditure. I try to make as many presents as I can and we also make our own cards.
I am also pretty honest when asked about visiting soft play or a whacky warehouse type place, if we do not have any spare cash, then I say that we can not afford it this month, but I have cakes and coffee at home and you are welcome to come and visit me.
One thing I have learnt is that lots of people are in the same boat as me too and it is great when one of the mums sees you on the school run and says that chicken are half price in the co-op this week or such like. People always comment that our cakes and biscuits are nice and that they just buy them, the thing is once you find a recipe that works, it only takes 10 minutes to make a batch of cakes with the mini’s and the costs is minimal.
The biggest savings for us has been menu planning and we will be continuing doing this in 2010.
In 2010 we will need to find the extra cash to pay from MiniMad to start swimming lessons (June) and Football Practice (January) and School Lunches (September), so need to work at being as frugal as possible.