Saving & Budgeting As A Stay-At-Home Parent.

Money has always been a very very touchy subject in many households. Whether to save or to spend? Or whether to save to spend, it has always been an issue.

When I was in Pakistan, living the single life, it was so much easier to earn money and then save. there were no major protocols to be carried out before you started earning. Here, in the UK, every little thing has to be taxed and before you start earning, there is a major protocol to be carried out. Which kind of takes the fun out of earning money, you see?
So, coming back to the married life and being a stay- at- home parent, depression kind of hit me hard. I had no savings, no disposable income to call my own that I can blow off without any care in the world. My husband is the sole earner of the house and pays the bills and other shenanigans ( I mustn't say that but it's a fun word). Which means I can not spend money like a 19 year old, thinking I own the sodding world. And add a child to that, I spend more on baby clothes than on myself! 

So how do I end up saving money as a stay-at-home parent? These are the very few tips (in no order) that I have applied heavily in my life and routine and mom, if you are reading, you should be proud: I have managed to save a bit (which I tend to actually spend on pointless things, but oh, the joy of retail therapy). 

1. SELL SELL SELL.

We live in the world of internet and online shopping. You might think that by 2017 we should've been able to download the clothes and makeup but no. Anyway. If you are on Facebook,  there are quite a few hundred buying and selling groups. I have joined at least 50. If you have clothes, shoes, accessories in mint condition, then go ahead and sell them off. I have sold clothes that have been worn only for like an hour or maybe a day for occasions and I knew that I wouldn't be able to wear them again, so I've put them up on these selling sites and made quite a bit of money. If you have baby toys, put a job lot advert and sell them off. It's easy money. 

2. Loose change goes in a money counter jar.

I have this habit of putting loose change in a jar. I actually have two jars. One labeled charity and one labeled as saving. Putting loose change in a charity jar is a habit that I have learned from my mother. And I think it will be something that I see myself doing for the rest of my life. 
I have gone ahead and bought a coin counter jar from eBay and I swear it has made my life so so much easier. I know how much I am saving and how much I actually need to put in loose change in the jar. So if ever, I am feeling kind of disappointed with the savings in the jar, I literally rummage the entire house and put in whatever loose change I find. 

3. You saved £3.50 today receipt.

This little gem of a saving technique was found on a small lifestyle group that I belong to on Facebook. So every time you go shopping and when you exit the counter, you are always handed a small receipt that tells you how much you saved with your shopping (even with multi-buy savings). So whatever amount I have saved that day, whether it is just a few pennies or rupees, I make sure that I transfer that amount to my saving account or to my coin counter jar. So, for example, I saved £2.50 today with my weekly groceries, I put in the change in the coin counter jar. It has saved me quite a lot of money with this. I won't say hundreds but yes, a few pounds at least.

4. Saving committees.

Many of my Pakistani readers can relate to this. One of the BESTEST way to save money is creating a committee group. A few friends/relatives come together and transfer a set amount of money to a person(changes every month). So for example, I have a group of 11 friends. And we have decided to save up to £100 every month. So each month, we all transfer £100 to a friend (their saving). I usually choose the transfer at the end of the year so that I won't have the urge to spend all the money at once. So each month, a person from the group gets £1100 to spend or to save.

5. Impulsive shopping.

Now, don't worry, I am not going to ask to you completely stop spending money. Stay-at-home mothers usually find sanity in buying products. I know I do. Whether it is a new top, new makeup, even new crockery, we find pleasure in shopping. Because at the end of the day, with handling a family, chores, fighting post-natal depression, the small things that perk us up are packages being delivered to us and for us. But if you find something online, that you think you ought to have it immediately, put it in your shopping cart and finish doing your chores or whatever it is that you were doing previously and come back a couple of hours later to that shopping cart and see if you still want that item. You probably wouldn't. 
Also, when you go out for your weekly grocery shopping, make sure you go after having a meal. That way, you won't be tempted to buy things that you don't need (cough, junk food, cough). 
But girrrl, you gotta get that Starbucks frappe to cheer you up.

6. Cash-back websites.

If you shop online as much as I do, cash back websites are your best friends. These websites offer you a certain percentage of cash back from your online shopping. The percentage actually depends on the brand/store that you are shopping from and you get the cash back pretty much immediately in your account. I usually like to leave it in there for a couple of months before I withdraw it to my bank account. These are amazing for saving money. I have saved at least £300 with Top cash back.

7. Budgeting.

As boring as it sounds, it is probably the most easiest way to save money. With whatever money you get at the beginning of the month (my husband transfers a specific amount of money every month into my bank account for myself only) budget your money accordingly. If you think you need beauty products that particular month, jot down the products with their prices and take that money out. And then carry on with all the other things that you need to do or buy. This way, you will see what you spend on and you don't find necessary to spend on. It will save you quite a lot of money and impulsive decisions. 

8. Find a hobby that pays. 

Seriously. If you think you cook amazing food, you can start with charged catering for your family and friends. If you think that you write well, there are a lot of freelance websites that pay. Even though it's something very very small but hey, you're earning. 
If you think your second language is really good, you can start giving out summer tuitions. There are so many things that you can start doing from home. Crocheting, book keeping, cleaning jobs, ironing (pays immensely well) and so much more. If you find something that pays well, you can always start saving up for something big, like your own car, maybe a house, a holiday or anything branded that you have been eyeing. 

9. Frugal living. 

This is an idea that may or may not be feasible for a lot of people but I have seen so much change in my monthly grocery budget with frugal living. By no means am I implying that I am a master of this technique, but frugal living has made saving a bit easier. When you are grocery shopping, look for products that do the same job but at a lower price. for example, I find that the stores own products work the same way a big brand would in a fraction of a price. buying goods in bigger packs are also feasible since they save you the cost of per product. Couponing, not wasting food (leftovers), not buying expensive chocolate every month or maybe instead of buying expensive clothes, look for less expensive versions in other stores. And instead of buying cleaning products that do the same job as products you might find in the kitchen and DIY them, it might help you save a bit of money. Again, this might not float with a lot of people so you can always scratch that. 

Saving money isn't has hard and over bearing as a lot of people think it is. Look for bigger things to save for. Things that you think have a future investment and you won't blow all the saving on but by no means am I implying that you cant save to have little luxuries in your life. It is always nice to save for a pair of shoes that you have been eyeing, or maybe a dress that you think would look good on you. 

Always remember, if your family sees you saving money for the good things in life, they might incorporate in their own daily habits as well. And that is a good thing, right? Money might come and go, but good habits will always remain.