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September has come around again, and that means it’s back to school for the kids. But if you are one of those parents who has had to pay exorbitant nursery or creche fees you might feel that your finances have waned somewhat over the summer. Whether your children have just started school, or it’s now a return to normality, this is the perfect opportunity to get your finances back to normal. What are the best ways to do this?
Assessing Your Current Situation
This is the perfect place to begin. Buy looking at your current financial situation, only then can you get a bearing of what you need to save and how you can claw things back. Of course, if you need a veritable cash injection in the short-term, you can very easily start looking for a quick loan to bridge you until payday, but from then, perhaps it’s time to find those ways to get back to normality. Look at where you are, and this means, very simply, setting up a budget, and putting everything in terms of income and outgoings, onto a spreadsheet, so you can see what needs paying, and where you stand.
What Are The Credit Cards Looking Like?
It’s very likely that you leaned on your credit cards during the summer to pay for numerous days out, but now you see those monthly bills creep up. Looking at your credit card situation gives you, again, that opportunity to know where you are in terms of debt. The first thing you should do if you’ve got a lot of credit card debt is to transfer your existing credit cards onto 0% balance transfer cards. If you are someone that leans very heavily on your credit cards all the time this means you may have to work harder at fixing your credit score to get accepted for certain cards. If you’re looking for those 29 months 0% balance transfer credit cards, it might be impossible, especially if you had to dish out for school uniforms and the like. But there are credit cards that give you 0% for a few months, and those are usually reserved for those with bad credit scores. As such, there is no shame in getting these, because you will have 0% for a little bit of time, giving you that financial buffer.
Fixing Those Major Expenses
Children are expensive, and when we start to look at how much they cost altogether, not just in terms of school uniforms, also the things that keep them going, like food, this is when we have to start being clever. The major expenses aren’t just utility bills, petrol, and those lunchtime treats, but it’s food. But there are ways for us to cut back on excessive food costs. The first thing we can do, and benefit our planet at the same time, is cut down on meat consumption. And while we’ve got growing children that need an abundance of protein, making a switch from a big plate of chicken to loading a plate with pulses and veggies makes it a lot cheaper. There’s plenty of vegetarian meals out there that are full of protein, as well as fibre, which can keep our children full. But also think about school dinners. Are your children really enjoying these? Or can you find a way to let them enjoy school dinners a few times a week, but then balance them out with a packed lunch? Food isn’t just a major expense, but when we start to get an idea of how wasteful we are with it, it can certainly drag our finances down.
Look For Deals
There are coupons for everything these days! But if you find the right website that gives you deals in the supermarket you visit all of the time, why don’t you take advantage of this? Yes, it takes a lot of practice to be savvy with these deals, but once you get into the habit, the money that you save can go on something worthwhile. Life, in general, appears to be expensive these days. So if you get into the habit of shopping around for the best deals, even if this means spending 20 minutes or so online a week, you will feel the benefit. And if you want to, the money that you save on your shopping, you can put it into a different account, and let it accumulate! After all, you are used to spending a certain amount of money on groceries so that you won’t miss it.
Set A Goal
As the children are back to school, we feel that inclination to treat ourselves, especially when the children come home and run riot. But if we want to get our finances back to normal, we’ve got to find ways to enjoy ourselves without spending above and beyond. While looking for vouchers can help with this, if you really do like the idea of going out on occasion, finding the cheapest days out is a simple method to get good quality family time without spending too much. You need to set yourself a goal because once you put this in place, motivation takes over. The big mistake that we make is that we set a goal that’s too much to cope with. Instead of aiming to clear your credit card debt this time in 12 months, aim to pay off more than your minimum balance every month. It helps keep you on track but also, when you start to look at your life and how expensive it is in other ways, you can find methods to put back in other areas. For example, your utility bills, they can benefit from a different supplier, which gives you the opportunity to pay money towards your debts, wiping the debt quicker.
Rearranging Your Time
For those parents that are bound by the Monday to Friday 9 to 5, they feel the financial pressure because of breakfast clubs, after-school clubs. But if we can find ways to rearrange hour working week, which gives has the opportunity to be the financial side of relief briefly, will this work in our favour? For example, if we get to work from home on occasion, do we need to send our children to the breakfast club and after-school clubs? Finding ways to structure our week means that we can cut corners. As we start to look at our situation, we feel bound by how much we earn. And while many people talk about this, is a side hustle realistic for you? It’s certainly worth pointing out, especially in the short-term. Because if you need to get your finances back to normal as you’ve had an expensive summer, will a side hustle work for you? There are websites like Appen that can enlist you for projects that take a few days or a few weeks, and a lot of these are projects you can do at home, giving you the opportunity for that cash injection, but without the long-term commitment.
What Are You Entitled To?
This is another thing that we gravely underestimate because we feel that if we earn a certain amount of money, that is it and we’re entitled to nothing else. But if you have children, and you earn under a certain threshold, you can very well be entitled to benefits like tax credits. It’s worth going online to find one of the many benefits out there because even if you aren’t entitled to something right now, things change. As well as this, you’ve got to think about income protection cover. While we can feel that we need to stay in a specific job because of the cover that it provides us, if we’re unable to work, many employees have a cap on the sick pay that they can offer. Think about your entitlements, because if you feel that the pressure from month to month, but the finances dwindle, getting them back to normal isn’t as easy as eating a few tinned meals.
And while we have to work to get our finances back to normal, one of the major things that we can struggle with is the overwhelming stress of the situation. It’s very stressful, especially if we got to drop the kids off at school, go to work, and we forever feel on that treadmill. Remember to take a step back and ask yourself, is it really that stressful? Get your finances back to normal isn’t just about removing things out of your life; it’s about being clever. It’s also about the feeling that you can still enjoy life despite working to save money. A lot of people find they are polar opposites. Getting your finances back to normal doesn’t have to be stressful. But it’s about making the most of what you’ve got. The weather is terrible right now, so that means we don’t necessarily have to go out, so we’ve got to entertain ourselves at home. It costs nothing, so you’re saving money in this way. Now the kids are back in school; normality can commence. Use this opportunity to claw back your finances.