Write a list before going to supermarket or any shops and stick to it.
You don’t need a degree to do a budget. Most single parents we know are better at working out a budget and sticking to it than anyone else.
One of the best websites we’ve come across to help you make good decisions about money is MoneySavingExpert. You can sign up for updates. It’s got info about deals, about switching, say, energy suppliers, and all sorts of hints and tips that you won’t find anywhere else.
Write down everything you spend in a week. Go through it, line by line, and see if there’s anything at all you can cut down on.
Good questions to ask yourself are:
Do you really need it?
Can you afford it?
Is there something you can do to save a little?
Is there one small thing you can give up? Even if it’s just a small thing, it can make a big difference over weeks and months.
Can you switch from branded goods to unbranded? Some are just as good and a lot cheaper. Could you try out something different every week that you might switch – just to be adventurous. You could even do a blind tasting (tins of beans/breakfast cereals) or experiment (washing powder/washing-up liquid) with your children. You might be surprised.
MoneyAware has articles with practical tips on how to cut down on everyday spending and big expenses.
You might find it costs you less if you plan ahead.
Instead of buying a roll and sausage for your children on the way to school, buy a packet of rolls and a packet of sausages from the shops and make them up the night before.
Takeaways and fast food are great. But you’ll save a lot if you keep these for treats rather than make them a habit.
It’s a lot cheaper to cook from scratch at home. And you can get your children involved. Keep it simple. You could even try recreating your favourite takeaway foods at home. Children are usually more interested in eating if they’ve helped make it.
‘Baby food’ is expensive. Can you just make soups or whatever and freeze in batches? Grated apples or mashed bananas are cheaper than jars/packets of fruit puree. Or give them mini portions of the meals you eat, with no salt added.
GoodtoKnow has an article with nearly 150 recipes that be made for under £1 a head for a family of four, using prices from UK supermarkets. (Remember: when you have a smaller family, it can work out cheaper to make more and freeze the leftovers or eat them the next day).
Look at what you’re paying out every month for your phone, broadband and so on. You might be able to get better deals by going elsewhere. MoneySavingExpert is good on this and about how to get the best deals.
When you take out a new contract, shop around. Find out as much as you can. Don’t take the salesperson’s word for it.
It can be easier said than done. How do you work out what’s a good electricity tariff, say? Do you know how to read your electricity bill? What makes a good provider? Would you rather have a cheaper deal or a better service? Check:
Our guide to heating your home. This has info about financial support you could be entitled to such as Warm Home Discount and Cold Weather Payment.
Energy Saving Trust information about energy saving in your home with tips on switching suppliers, home insulation and reducing your bills.
Try to save a little. You probably think you can’t afford to do that. But you probably can. How about you put a £1 a week into a jar and watch it grow? By your child’s next birthday, say, you’ll have an extra £50.
Do you have fast food several times a week? What about if you cut it to once or twice week? Then put the £10 you’ve maybe saved into the jar. You’ll then have £500 in under a year. When you make that kind of cutback, every day, or every week, you get to the point where you don’t miss it.
Think about using a credit union for savings. These are for everyone including those who can’t get ordinary bank products. There may be one in your area or workplace.
Add to your children’s savings accounts, while you spend, without costing you any extra. KidStart is a loyalty programme for parents. When you spend online a percentage of what you spend is added to children’s savings accounts. You can also ask other family members to join.
You may not want other people to know that you’ve been searching for information or help from OPFS.
When browsing the internet whether on a mobile phone, tablet or computer, you leave a ‘history’ trail of pages and sites you’ve visited.
It’s impossible to completely avoid being tracked online but if you’re worried about someone knowing which sites you’ve been looking at, there are some things you can do to help cover your tracks.
If you’re using a laptop or desktop computer, try keeping another document or website open in a new tab or window while browsing. If someone comes in the room and you don’t want them to see what you’re looking at, you can quickly switch to another window or tab.
Deleting browsing history
You can delete the history of websites you’ve visited, but it’s important to know that if you delete your browsing history, someone else using the same device may notice.
If you share a tablet, mobile phone, laptop or computer with someone, they might notice that passwords or website addresses have disappeared from their history.
Find out how to remove your browsing history and other data from some of the most commonly used browsers: