Ker-chinging in the changes: Mum on a budget

As with many employers in the UK, my workplace (sorry ex-workplace) covers statutory maternity pay until month 9, followed by 3 months of unpaid leave (if you want it). I did want it, so I have kinda gotten used to being a bit skint the last few months.

But now I have officially been redundantised (is that a real word? I think I might have just made it up…), there is no new job around the corner, no April bonus and no wage at the end of the month. I figured this is the time to make some changes.

I’m not claiming poverty, and I realise we are very fortunate to even be able to consider me taking time off work. BUT, from two salaries to one, and an extra mouth to feed…Let’s do the maths here.

I’ve never really budgeted before. I just muddled through each month grabbing what I needed, knowing we usually had enough to cover bills and our usual food expenditure. Some months we’d really screw it up, other months we seemed to get off lightly. The variation heavily depended on number of birthdays that month, and if we had any sort of social life.

That’s all changed now. I realise I am living beyond my means on a regular basis, and definitely will be going forward unless I draw a line in the sand and make some changes. So here’s what I have done so far.

  1. Cancelled the milkman. I know, I feel TERRIBLE. That advert of the little milk bottles is flashing in my mind, and I loved the fact the kids skipped to get the milk from the doorstep twice a week. But the thing is, it costs twice as much, and the supply and demand needs of our family could do with adopting Daisy the cow, so it had to go.
  2. Cancelled the organic vegetable box. Cringe. I actually can’t believe I’m writing this, and some of you must be thinking Wan*er. It was a deal I tried out through Groupon super cheap, and loved so much I couldn’t cancel it at the end of the trial period. So I reduced it to a small box, and every two weeks. Again, it was a little bit lovely unpacking the contents with Tigs – but in all honesty, the carrots were a bit muddy and went limp after an hour (pardon the pun). We didn’t really know what half of the stuff was, or what to do with it.
  3. Switched from home delivery to in store. Tesco used to do some super cheapy delivery slot deals, but just lately I noticed I have been paying up to £6 again to have food delivered. Now, I have never ever done a BIG shop with the tiny terrors in tow. I’m way too chicken for that. But, I have opened my eyes to hours of the day I could nip out, leaving the kids with Mr G and have a dash round the store. Now that is a double winner for me. (Gone are the days ‘me time’ involved a girls lunch and a bottle of pinot grigio).
  4. Doing the ALDI shop. Ten years ago I would rather have been seen dead than in a budget supermarket. Now I am practically ringing up everyone I know to tell them how much money I have saved on my food shop this week. I guess when you have 4 mouths to feed, and they quite frankly consume the contents of the fruit bowl faster than Kevin the Fruit bat, your limits are pushed. In the last 3 weeks we have saved a third of our usual bills at least. Maybe more. And we have eaten like Kings…LIKE KINGS I TELL YOU. (Told you I was excited). This is a grocery revolution…if you haven’t gotten involved yet I cannot recommend it enough. My seething of some other leading supermarkets was reaffirmed after I spent more on a pack of baby formula and a handful of birthday cards than I did on our entire food for a week at Aldi. Fact. 
  5. Budget birthday cards. Yep, leading straight on from the point above. Now I like a nice card as much as the next person, but hello, who the hell wants to blow their entire ‘Other stuff’ budget on a load of paper which is going straight to landfill (or recycling plants I hope). Saving money on cards is right up at the top of my new agenda. Whilst ranting about this I have been pointed towards a card shop retailer cashing in on this craziness. Card Factory…pleasure to meet you.
  6. Big, Little or Small? Portion sizes that is. I remember the school dinner ladies asking this question in the canteen line. I would clearly never get a job in the catering industry as everyone in our household has been getting a ‘three times more than you could possibly ever eat’ portion for quite some time. Clearly, I could eat the babys portion and be quite full. The toddler portion, mum portion and dad portion all increase exponentionally; how we are not all man mountains is anybody’s guess. So now, I’m holding back on the extra, freezing it up, and using it for a whole other meal another day. I never did this previously because defrosted food never particularly appealed. Nowadays, NO COOKING has a whole new appeal of its very own.
  7. Just Say No. This is not referring back to an anti-drugs campaign of the nineties. I’m talking about social events. The ones that fill up your calendar, cost you a small fortune, leave you with an unwanted hangover that lasts a week, and that quite frankly you couldn’t be arsed with in the first place. So why did you agree to go? I have found a new happy place, which sees me smugly and politely declining the invitations which I just don’t feel, in favour for a night in my joggers with a glass of white, Netflix and a bar of Fruit and Nut. Once upon a time I’d have thought that was so sad…now? I couldn’t be happier. There’s nothing worse than remembering you stuck that last round on your card, eating another thirty quid into your overdraft…why? It seemed like such a good idea at the time…

So that’s MMTs guide to saving a few bob. I’ll probably still be hiding the bags from Mr G, but with Christmas round the corner, that might just satisfy my shopping bug (until the January sales!)

Have you got any top tips for saving £££ on your family bills? I’d love to steal  hear them


A Cornish Mum
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