Money saving tips for young families

It can be hard to stretch your family budget when you have toddlers, so here are some tips to help:

  1. Having another baby? You are entitled to free prescriptions and dental treatment while you’re pregnant and a year after the baby is born. Don’t forget to book in a dental check up before your child is a year old (easily done when you’re busy with a baby!).
  2. Shop around for financial products including home and car insurance. If you can’t find time to do that, phone your insurance company when your renewal letter arrives and ask them if they can give you a better deal.
  3. Shop around for gas and electricity too. Often the best deal is the web tariff, so you don’t even need to pick up the phone.
  4. Don’t let your old baby stuff gather dust, sell it now and use it to buy toddler stuff instead!  You can buy and sell at Netmums.com, eBay, car boot sales and notice boards at some Sure Start centres.
  5. Look up new recipes using seasonal ingredients. Seasonal ingredients are usually cheaper than ones that have been grown overseas, they are better for the environment and you’re supporting local farmers, too.
  6. Try planning your meals for the week before you go shopping. This saves you having to throw away food that has gone out of date because you bought too much. It also saves you from popping to the supermarket mid-week when you run out of food. That means you won’t be tempted to spend £20 more than you expected! Meal planning sounds a pain, but it gets much easier with a bit of practice.
  7. Check to see if your mortgage company will let you take a payment holiday for a few months.
  8. If you have credit cards and or accounts with home shopping companies, make sure you pay them on time. Once you’ve added up the interest and late payment fee, it can be surprisingly expensive. Check to see if your credit card company will take a minimum payment by direct debit – at least you won’t have to pay the fee then.
  9. Check out babybudgeting.com for loads more ideas for saving money when you have a baby.

Work from home mums: party plan tips

A party plan is a good way of earning some extra money and you can get some products at a discounted rate, too.

It’s cheap to get started and you can run a party as soon as your kit arrives, so you can start earning straight away. The company you work for will provide catalogues, posters and invitations for you. Plus you can work hours that fit around your family.

Here are five tips to help you get started as a party plan representative

1. Love the product

It’s an uphill struggle selling something if you don’t totally believe in it. There are many party plan companies out there, some well-known and others less so. Take some time to explore the different products to find one you really love. The Direct Selling Association is a good place to start.

2. Know what you want from the party plan

If you’re looking for £30 here and there to top up your family’s income, then running a party from time to time will usually do the trick. But if you’re looking to get a regular income (say, to replace a job), then you’ll need to be more organised and put in much more effort

3. Check the contract

Party plan companies work in different ways, so make sure you read their terms and conditions carefully.  Things to look out for include:

  • Are you committed to meeting any targets?
  • Do you have to buy your own catalogues and pay for postage? Are there any other costs?
  • What percentage commission will you earn? Will this increase if you hit a target? How easy will it be to hit that target?
  • Work out how much you’re likely to take home from each party – is that what you expected?
  • How much help and advice will your team leader give you? How experienced is he/she?

Most party plans are from reputable companies but be careful as there are a few scams out there. Check out the Direct Selling Association (http://www.dsa.org.uk/) and Business Opportunity Watch (http://www.businessopportunitywatch.com/) for more information.

4. How many other people are selling this product in your area?

It’s easier to get party bookings if people haven’t already been approached by reps working for the same company as you.

Your party plan company may be able to tell you how many reps they already have in your area, but that won’t tell you how active those reps are. For example, if a local rep only does parties on the run up to Christmas, then that’s not going to be a problem for you. If there are already three reps doing several parties a month, then you’d be better off selling for a different company.

Have a look at the places you might find a rep – check school notice boards and fetes, ask around your friends to see if anyone has heard of parties by that company in your area.

Some reps looking for new recruits are quite persuasive, but a little research will give you the facts you need before you sign up.


Family money management: tips for staying in control

Once you have a family it becomes more important than ever before to stay in control of your finances. That’s because you have your family’s future to care for as well as your own, plus your expenses go up and the chances are your income goes down!

Here are some steps you can take today to start taking back control of your money:

1. Start tracking your spending. The first step you need to take when taking control of your money is find out how you’re managing your finances. Where does your money come from and where does it go? You may be surprised to learn that how you think it’s being spent is often different than how it is actually spent.

To find out where your money is going, begin tracking it right now. Your tracking system can be as simple as a notebook page with columns, or you may want to get software to help to help. Then write down all the money you spend as soon as you spend it. Don’t let guilt keep you from making entries. This step is meant to help you find out the truth about where your money goes, not judge your spending.

2. Set up a budget.  If you don’t think you can follow a budget, think of it as a spending plan instead. To get your finances on track and start saving, you will need to spend less than you make.  Write down where your money is coming from and on what dates you are paid. Then figure out how much of that money is spent on bills and other necessities. Write down how you will spend the remainder.

This is where you may realise you need to cut out some expenses so you can stay within your budget. Remember to plan ahead and put money aside for large purchases. Your needs will probably change every few months, so review your budget or spending plan regularly.

3. Start saving.  Most of us aren’t accustomed to saving. We spend our money as quickly as we get it. If you can only afford to save a little to begin with that’s fine because it will get you in the saving habit.

4. Put away your credit cards. If you have your credit cards with you when you go shopping, you will probably use them. Eliminate your credit cards as an option by putting them away or even hiding them. If you remove them as a temptation, you’ll force yourself to live within your means by spending only the money in your bank account.

5. Ask your credit card companies for lower fees. Pick up the telephone and ask your credit card companies if they can work out a lower rate for your credit cards. Usually they will try to help you because it hurts both you and the credit card company if your debt goes to collectors. A lower rate means it will cost you less to carry the balance while you pay it off. This is a good tip for many of your bills – ask your electricity, gas and insurance companies if they have a better deal than the one you currently have.

6. Think of ways to earn more money. We often think of money management as cutting expenses, but there are many ways that you can increase your income, too.

You can gain a lot more control over every aspect of your life once you control your finances. By following the above steps, you will be on the way to getting that control.