Managing Our Family Finances and Saving For Our Children’s Futures
Starting a family has been an incredible journey for me. I’m amazed at how different the births of my two boys have been and how wonderfully Oscar has slotted into our family. However, beneath all the fuzzy, blissful feelings, there’s a little niggle. That constant niggle in the back of my head? It’s all about money…
Working Out Our Incomings and Outgoings
After having a baby it was inevitable that the subject of our finances would come up sooner or later. Up until the birth of Oscar, Mikey and I had it all figured out. One of the very first things we did when we moved home last year was to create spreadsheet that listed all our incomings and outgoings. That way we always knew how much money we had to play around with each month.
Now that Oscar has arrived, we need to adjust our financial spreadsheet a little bit to accommodate added expenses such as nappies and also include additional income like Child Benefit.
Oscar is my second child, which means I’m still eligible for child benefit. Although it’s not a huge sum of money, Child Benefit really does help contribute to our monthly income as it enters my bank account every four weeks. I sorted Oscar’s claim out as soon as I could to avoid having to do any backdating. In order to claim, I had to send his birth certificate off to HMRC so we needed to have him registered before we could get the ball rolling.
Budgeting Food Shopping and Meal Planning
After we moved home, I quickly learned that we needed to learn how to budget our food shop and meal plan. Usually we are pretty good at sticking to this, but during my last few weeks of pregnancy, it all went out of the window and I was living off mid-week shopping trips and lots of snacks. Our meals weren’t planned and the budget definitely wasn’t being stuck to. It’s definitely time for us to get on top of it all again and ensure that not only are we sticking to our budget, but we’re also getting some healthy meals again.
Bringing In Some Extra Cash
One of the easiest ways I’ve found to bring in some extra money is by selling unwanted items or clothes online. I’ve used Facebook, Shpock and eBay to sell a whole bunch of items that we no longer use or need. I’ve found this to be an effective way of making some extra cash, especially when bundling together items such as tops, trousers and baby grows.
If you’re a homeowner, you may also have found that over the years your property’s value has increased significantly. I found a great online calculator that shows you just how much your property has increased in value.
Saving Cash Without Being Under Financial Strain
I have a great app on my phone which I also persuaded Mikey to download. The app in question is called Chip; it’s a safe, legitimate finance app owned by Barclays. Chip connects to your bank account and automatically ‘skims’ the odd pounds and pennies from your bank balance each week and pops it into a savings account. You can accumulate interest on your savings by referring people with your unique code (mine is OPFZVY if you want to sign up) and, because the amount of money being saved each week is so small, you don’t notice it being withdrawn from your account. The app analyses my expenditures and calculates a small amount that can be withdrawn without putting any financial strain on me. I’ve got around £300 in savings now and I haven’t missed a single penny.
Junior ISA/Child’s Savings Account
Something I am keen to get started for both Luke and Oscar is a junior ISA or child’s saving account. If I’m being honest, I wish I had been able to start Luke’s a lot earlier as he’s already about to turn five. Unfortunately, as a single mum and a mum going through some very turbulent relationships, I never had the resources or spare cash to deposit into an account for him.
We’ve been looking into the differences between junior ISAs and children’s saving accounts and weighing up the pros and cons of each. We are leaning in the direction of opening a child’s savings account for each of the boys as we’d like to have some sort of control over what the money goes towards once they reach the right age. Once the child turns 18, the money in an ISA is theirs to do what they will with it, where as a savings account would give us more control over ensuring the money is put towards something significant, such as a mortgage or university fees.
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