Keeping track of your money

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.

Useful links


  • 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.

Useful links


  • 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:

Useful links


  • 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.