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Today in part 5 of this series we deal with the financial crunch of having multiples. Now some of you are not going to like what you read, but that’s ok. It’s up to you and what you want from life and for your kids that will determine the extent you will need to go too.
Some things are going to apply to everyone and some things only to a few.
The whole idea is to get you to think so you can apply yourself where necessary. I’m not a millionaire, nor am I an accountant, yet you don’t have to be to make some simple changes to relieve some financial pressure before you come home with the new bubs.
Let’s start with something simple that everyone can do.
1] A Budget….
Yes a few of you just rolled you eyes, but if you cannot measure your financial goals and keep telling yourself each week it will be ok, you will hit crunch time eventually. It’s not a matter of if,…. but when.
Honestly, it isn’t that hard. I think most peoples fear of a budget is that they have to put themselves under the microscope. Financial planning is one of the biggest things couples argue about, yet once you are a family and not just a couple, things change.
The ‘how to’ part….
Grab a sheet of paper or jump onto the computer and pull up an Excel spreadsheet.
Down the left hand side, list all of your expenses:
Electricity / Gas
Next column to the right is for what it costs you per year. Grab a calculator and work it out…even if it is only roughly for now, you can tweak it later.
Third column is for the weekly or fortnightly amount. Just divide the Annual amount by either 52 or 26, it just depends if you get paid weekly or fortnightly.
Down the bottom put your weekly / fortnightly income and below that the total of your expenses for the same time period. You will pretty quickly get the idea of where you stand.
Now, where can you save? This is where the personal choice kicks in, but here are some tips that can save you hundreds if not thousands per year.
Check it out when you get your annual renewal. You’d be mad not to make a few phone calls to check out the competition online. Bundle if you can, car, home and contents for starters. If your current provider can be beaten let them know, see what they can do and move if they cannot or will not match it.
Two BIG provisos here… 1] DONT buy ANYTHING from door to door people 2] you get what you pay for. If it is cheaper, make sure everything is apples for apples. Do you lose any benefits or is there a higher excess?
The first time I did this it took me three hours but we saved over $900 and got a better deal from our current provider. Companies just love people who renew without checking out anything….don’t be a sucker, check it out, after all, it is YOUR money!
3] Luxury items:
When I say luxury, I don’t always mean expensive. Look at things like Foxtel, Gym Memberships or any other thing that is a WANT not a NEED.
You NEED food, you only WANT Foxtel. Just multiply the monthly amount by 12 to see what you spend every year on these items….some can be scary! Next, get rid of them if you’re not in a contract. If you are find out how to break it. A $120 a month is $1440 a year you may need for something else and remember, this is year on year on year, not just a one off.
4] Internet and phone plans:
Same as above, check with your current provider, get a better deal or walk. Bundle home and Internet but not Foxtel! A plan is not always cheaper, it just depends if you use data or phone calls more often.
5] Electricity Bill:
Get power smart! Turn off things at the wall like kettles, TVs and don’t leave small appliances plugged in like fans and heaters. They still draw a small current. Our house has no solar or gas yet our bill is always under $500 a quarter, where as the average is around $900-$1200.
Turn Air Con to the ‘dry’ feature or dehumidifier setting, it uses 30-40% less & choose anything with a DC Inverter for new items like AC, it uses 30-40% less power again. Open a window instead of using AC unless it truly is hot.
Use the timer at night…let it run for 3 hours or so and then turn off.
Wash clothes in cold water, convert all your light bulbs to Super bright LEDs. They use 80% less power! Use one lamp in the lounge room at night. Your eyes will adjust and find it not only is more comfortable but saves you heaps.
6] Food Planner:
Never tried it? Give it a go. Plan what you are going to have for the week, include a few meals you can prepare and freeze as well, time is something you will find a lack of throughout the first few years. Once you have the meals listed, write out your shopping list based on these needs. By buying only what you need, it makes it easier to skip the chip and chocolate aisles at the supermarket or if you can’t help yourself, try online shopping or even have it delivered!
Saturday morning is a cooking fest here at our place. Three meals are cooked at once EG: Spaghetti Bol, Chicken and veggie purée for the boys and lasagna. Cook, cut, pack and freeze. So much easier throughout the week to simply heat and serve without looking at the clock and thinking about take away or a sandwich for the fifth night in a row. This too will depend if one of you is stay at home or both back at work.
7] Memberships & Subscriptions:
Don’t renew them unless they are essential or have a long-term benefit. I gave up a few to things; like a premium weather service and two annual magazines and to be honest, I don’t miss them. I can Google 90% of what it need to know and YouTube the rest in my spare time.
8] Shopping (clothes, shoes & accessories) for you, the wife and kids.
Op shopping is not what it used to be! Check it out.
For us, the only things we brought new were things that revolved around safety; Car Seats, new breathable mattresses for the cots, pillows, sheets & the kids pram. Everything else was either gifted or second hand (so long as we deemed it safe), things like:
Brand stuff is cute but expensive. Try Best n Less, BigW and Target for some great finds and watch out for summer and winter clearance sales. But the next size up for summer next year. You’ll save around 40-60%. Try Gumtree or your local AMBA club as well, hand me rounds and downs as well as freebies or exchanges are often up for grabs.
Out laying double, or even triple, the money upfront is an expensive exercise. Most people are lucky enough to have hand me downs from child to child but with multiples you cannot fit two in the same car seat, high chair, cot, etc.
8] Credit Cards:
Your call here. If you’re good with your money, lower the limit down as much as you can. Use it for shopping and essentials then pay it off in full two days before the due date. This is great because you get approximately 30 days to see if you are under or over budget. If you’re over you can tighten up for a week or two and if you’re over you may decide to have a family treat. We haven’t paid interest on our credit card for over ten years! Final tip here….ignore any junk mail that offers you to raise the limit, it only works against you unless you REALLY need it or temporarily raise it then lower it again in a few months.
9] Gift Cupboard:
This little gem has saved us thousands of dollars over the years. We have 11 nieces and nephews and our siblings on top of this. We bargain shop at post Christmas sales, $2 shops and markets and slowly build up a supply of small and sometime practical gifts and stash them in the cupboard. This is great for when you need a gift, last minute or not, for someone. Just whip out some marked down wrapping paper, reuse a gift bag, grab a card out of a box of an assorted 100 pack choose a present and you’re on your way. Find some great bargains at closing down sales and have a mixed variety of presents to suit any age group or gender. We allocate approx $25 per child and have agreed within our family that presents for the adults don’t exceed $20. It takes the angst out of Christmas and secret Santa is also another good way to keep the costs down. Add a theme for a bit of fun and use your imagination. It’s fun and cheap.
Make lunch at home! It will save you approx $2000 & if you like your alcohol & coffee you can add another $2-3000 a year. I’m not saying give up but just cut back here and there and the results will speak for themselves.
If it costs you money annually or monthly assess it. Prioritize your ‘needs and wants’ and know the difference.
The rest I am going to leave up to you. These are the generic things that I can think of but inevitably you will think of other things that apply only to you!
You don’t have to live on baked beans. The key, as I have been banging on about all series, is preparation. Being prepared is the key to removing stress, spending more time with the kids and having time (and hopefully a few extra dollars) for yourself to enjoy other little things.
I’m taking a few days off over Easter; so if you’re on the roads, travel safe, enjoy and I will see you soon! Happy Easter All. 🙂
In part 6 I’m going to take about preparing to bring the kids home, especially after being in NICU. 🙂