Last Updated on October 25, 2017 by Marie Bautista
Raising a happy family is something that everyone knows takes a lot of money. From big, one-off expenses like holidays to the everyday struggle to pay the bills, we often have to identify ways to be creative with our finances and get more for less. There are lots of useful tips around out there on how to stop your kids costing you a fortune. Finding the value angle on things is a great approach – how can you streamline your expenses and reduce your outgoings while still having the same quality of life? It is possible – and below are some fantastic approaches to help you start working that money magic:
Get those rates down
One of the biggest drains on income has to be the money we spend servicing debt, and it’s one of the most useless expenses as well – it’s dead money. But there are a few clever tricks you can use to minimise the cost. Firstly, did you know you can approach your lender to negotiate a rate reduction? This works especially well if you’ve been making the agreed repayments for a few years. Sometimes circumstances change, and lenders these days are well aware of that. Remember, they’d sooner keep your repayments than have something become unaffordable and risk you defaulting. So don’t be afraid to start a conversation about reducing your repayments if things are becoming unaffordable.
Similarly, it doesn’t always pay to be loyal these days. When it comes to credit cards and loans, companies often reserve their best rates for new customers. Make sure you are regularly shopping around and hopping providers to those who offer a 0% balance transfer. This means that 100% of your payment goes to reducing your debt, not just servicing the interest. However, it is key to ensure you can pay off the balance within the interest-free period, and make sure that you aren’t running up anymore in the meantime.
Always compare providers
The number one rule when it comes to fixed expenses is to make sure that you’re on the best deal going. Any utility supplier needs to be checked once a year to make sure that you have access to the tariff that fits you best. Similarly, when it comes to insurance, set a calendar reminder annually to ensure that you are checking the level of cover you need and the amount you’re paying – you can use comparison websites like maketheswitchusa.com or insurance.me to find the latest deals.
Beware the great power drain
When you have kids, it seems to be the unspoken rule that every appliance and every light is on all the time. If you don’t take note of how much power is being used in the house, you can quickly find that you end up with rocketing bills. Firstly, make sure that you are unplugging all appliances, not in use at the wall. When things are in ‘standby’ mode, they still draw power. It’s only a small amount, true, but if you consider the amount of electrical devices and items that need recharging we use nowadays, you’ll see that it can quickly add up. It can also save money to consider getting some timer plugs, which you can programme to switch off at a certain time. This works wonders if you have a habit of watching Netflix in bed at night and not getting up to turn off the router, or even if you’re one of those people that fall asleep with the TV on.
You can also consider an app-controlled thermostat that lets you be smarter about your hot water and heating. Control it remotely, and you can make sure that there’s always enough hot water for your bath, while not wasting power on keeping temperatures high when they don’t need to be. Make your heating systems work better for you, and you can make real savings.
Used together these small changes can really make a collective impact on your spending. That’s just the start of it – keep an eye on my Money Mondays series for more ideas on how to be smarter with your personal finances.