I blogged at the beginning of the month about my goals for 2014 and one of the main targets was to start saving money. Before Emilia came into our life we wouldn't think twice about eating out 3 or 4 times a week or taking frequent holidays, so we're currently in a situation where we are having to think wisely and be more creative with our money to make it go further whilst still having fun!
Whilst living on one wage we'd still like to be able to save to move or to get those home improvements on our current house done finally and we'd also like to save for a family holiday to remember in a few years time. We're complete Disney addicts and usually no year is complete without a trip to a Disney resort so at the moment we have our eyes firmly on a holiday to Walt Disney World in Florida when little Emilia is old enough to appreciate it!
I truly believe in small steps making a massive difference so by making small changes to our spending habits I hope to achieve a balance of living well (honestly you don't need a lot of money to make you happy!) and also being able to save those pennies! So every month from now on I'll be reviewing the small steps I have been taking to change our ways.
So here's a roundup of some of the things I have done during January.....
We were very lucky to receive lots of gift vouchers for Christmas so this month we've been concentrating on using the Mothercare and M&S ones to stock up on next size clothing essentials for Emilia (such as sleep-suits and vests) as her current ones are now getting a bit snug! She's pretty much sorted for the next few months now in terms of clothes which is such a relief!
Using coupons as much as possible for everything from our weekly shop to baby items and meals out. I always carry a plastic zip file in my bag now so I can store all of my coupons, gift vouchers, etc in one place. I used to keep them at home and only take out what I'd think I might need but I'd often forget about coupons then they would expire so this is much better.
Switched from a £40 a month iPhone 4 contract to 'pay as you go' and hopefully will be switching providers soon too (I hate Orange/EE so much!). I was looking at upgrading to an iphone 5 but seeing as there's nothing wrong with my current handset, I've decided to keep it for now.
Signed up for Quidco to claim cashback on some of my online and in-store purchases. I was extremely surprised at how many shops you can claim cashback on so I'm annoyed at myself that I have only just signed up! I've only been using it a couple of weeks and so far have £15.23 in my account, not bad for just clicking through their website!
Joined the Boots parenting club which will give us a whopping 10 points for every £1 spent on baby products plus a whole heap of other benefits. We do most of our baby shopping at Boots anyway so this is great!
Used some of our Tesco clubcard vouchers to buy entry tokens for attractions ready for our spring holiday. Free days out, yay!
Stocked up on cosmetics and beauty products during the Boots 70% off Christmas clearance sale. My aim now is to use products one at a time (no having 3 or 4 shower gels on the go anymore!) and only buy more when I need to.
Planning meals before we do a food shop and sticking to a list, this means we don't get lured into buying items we don't need. Unless it's an amazing offer and we'll use it in the future, of course!
Tracking our daily expenditure using a spending app on the ipad! Here is a link to the one I use. It only takes a few seconds to input the data each day and it is really useful for seeing where our money goes each week (a lot of it on baby stuff, and a lot on eating out still.... Oops!) and what areas we could cut back on.
If you are trying to save money for a special occasion or just cut back a bit please do let me know your top tips and favourite websites for saving money!