I’ve always loved the idea of having a Rainy Day Fund or as my folks say Funny Money, which is an awesome way to say “here’s a few bob. Let’s treat ourselves!” Myself and Papa Bear don’t drink, smoke or pop any drugs stronger than paracetamol for the migraines that come our way. Alcohol is something neither of us are bothered about and I hear we’re saving a tonne by skipping it all together, although the odd Lidl wine has said to be a bargain and there’s something to be said for making your own moonshine! Even so, we like to splurge on our favourite vice – food! Little Miss has a saying which goes something like, “Can we go somewhere nice to eat?” So Lord knows we gotta save for these little treats now that we’re down to one income and a bit!
Firstly, as parents we’re always cautious of our finances and try our best to keep track of what is coming in and what is going out. Chopping the salary from my civil service job to bits and supplementing with a freelance income has had its moments but we’re finally figuring it all out.
It’s always been me who controls the household budget and even though basic arithmetic is not my thing, I have a damn good handle on what we can and can’t afford. And then of course I sometimes lose my way and splurge. I’m only human. If you’re following me on Facebook you’ll know that I couldn’t resist adding two chickens to our household last week. But Vanessa and Rose cost money. They’re worth it, so they are now added to our monthly budget like any pet would be.
With the cost of living going up, saving, no matter how many salaries you have coming in, is not as easy as people think. I should know. I feel as though we’ve been saving for one thing after another for the last ten years. Whether it was for our wedding, my postgraduate studies, a deposit for our house or the kids because we all know babies cost bucketloads.
Over the years we’ve made some radical adjustments to our spending habits but we still manage to “go somewhere nice to eat”, atleast twice a month if not more.
How do we do it? There’s more ways than one. But the biggest thing, is discipline! Shop around and know what you can afford. And do it. Don’t talk about it. Be proactive and actively save.
Here are a few ways we’ve managed to cut our outgoings to keep our Rainy Day Fund topped up. I would love to know your tips too. Head to the comments to share your wisdom!
1) Look At Your Energy Bills
It goes without saying that energy bills are high, and they take up a considerable chunk of our monthly finances. One way to help with the cost of your energy bills is to look at switching your supplier. Check out super saver oil, or head to an online comparison site to see what options are available to you. And there are many. Switching used to be a cumbersome task but the difficulties of it all are taken out of your hands completely. The savings you make over the year will add a nice chunk to your Rainy Day Fund. And remember to submit your meter readings as estimated bills can see you paying more than you need to.
2) Figure Out Your Expenses
The best way to gain control of your outgoings is to record your monthly expenses. For me, good old pen and paper helped me to visually see where our money was going. It also showed me how often I was using ATMs with charges and my over dependability on the credit card. Eventually I moved on to an excel spreadsheet which I can easily check out and update on my phone.
You don’t have to list your rent or mortgage payments, your bills or food. These are chunk items which really you should always have set aside in a separate account so any direct debits are seamlessly paid without you worrying about them.
Listing other items which sporadically pop up such as heading into a supermarket and making little purchases that add up are the things you need to keep check of. Pennys is, of course, the worst. I’ve walked in there with €20 to spend and ended up with €125 sitting on my credit card. It’s too easy… and tempting.
Did I really need that new top or skirt I treated myself to or the new jumpers that look oh so cute on the kids? Probably not. Every coffee, every magazine – make a note of what you’re spending your money on. You’ll eventually see how much these small items and purchases add up. The question to ask is, “Is it really necessary?” (And yes decking out my garden with fairy doors was necessary!)
This way you can easily see where you can save money and kick those expensive little habits into touch.
3) Set Yourself A Budget
Now you’ve figured out your expenses you can create a budget. Put a stop to those pre-packed lunches you pick up in the supermarket and that cup of coffee on your lunch break and save the money instead! But don’t starve yourself and a treat of a Mocha once a week is perfectly acceptable.
Saving is much like dieting. Deprive yourself and it’ll be all that much harder to do and easier to fall flat leaving your Rainy Day Fund a little sad and limp. It’ll be hard at first but give yourself a week of sticking to your budget and it’ll become second nature – just watch those euros add up and the smile grow bigger on your face as the numbers rise.
4) Check Out A Better Mobile Phone Deal
We’ve all been there; fallen completely in love with a new handset and paid little attention to what we’re actually paying for. Hello Samsung, you son of a gun who has gotten me twice now with a poor deal. Go back over your phone contract and figure out if you’re using anywhere near to what you’re paying for.
Got thousands of texts included in your plan but prefer to communicate via social media? Head to your provider and ask for some more options, better still go to a competitor – you’ll find that they might offer you a better deal and undercut your current provider to make you one of their customers.
5) What’s On The Telly Box?
Many of us pay for boxsets and satellite TV and broadband all under one provider. This can get expensive, if you find that you only really watch a couple of the TV channels you’re paying through the roof for, then learn to live without it.
Most TV channels provide a catch-up service now, and many streaming services are incredibly cheaper and provide just as good entertainment.
Personally I will always recommend Netflix which we have had since the very first month it came to Ireland. It’s our go to when it comes to watching something and because of it, I’m always tempted to get rid of the channels!
A lot of this is basic common knowledge. It’s up to you to implement these changes and be conscious of your money. Spending frivolously is great fun but costs you in the end. If you’re serious about having a back up fund for general savings, holidays or weekend trips with the kids, then just do it! Happy saving!