We all know that raising kids is expensive, and with the rising cost of living, staying on top of your finances may feel even more challenging. While the changing economy and inflation challenge many, there are steps you can take to future-proof your bank balance and manage tougher times better.
With wages lagging behind the rising cost of living, many families experience a lower income threshold, requiring a different budgeting and financial planning approach.
While government support can help, additional finance management options can improve a family’s financial position and alleviate anxiety and worries about the future.
Although planning and managing family finances may sound tedious, keeping an open mind can make the process more enjoyable and help you develop innovative and creative solutions. Including teenagers and other family members in the planning process can also help motivate and teach young people essential life skills.
Cover the Basics of Budgeting
Anyone familiar with budgeting knows that keeping track of your expenses will give you insight into what you spend and help you identify essential and non-essential outgoings.
Luckily, there are many ways to approach expense tracking, and not all of them include trawling through your bank statements. You can use smart money apps linked to online banking, easy-to-use third-party mobile apps, or approach it manually with Excel spreadsheets. Remember that tracking your expenses isn’t as dull as it sounds; you might be surprised to see where your money is going!
One often overlooked pitfall is recurring subscriptions managed by PayPal. You may have signed up for free trials that automatically switched to paid subscription plans after expiration. You can check these by logging into your PayPal account and cancelling any recurring payments you no longer need or could do without.
Families with more than one child may also want to consider novelty expenses such as online gaming purchases, after-school shopping sprees with friends, tuckshop expenses, and other non-essential costs. Setting aside a set amount per week or fortnight can teach your teen budgeting skills and help you restrain expenses to a reasonable amount.
Lastly, if there is any extra income after essential expenses, think about what you most want to spend that money on.
Hot tip: Instead of spending hard-earned dollars on streaming services, join your local library and access Kanopy for free, which lets you stream up to 20 free movies per month!
Know the System and Make it Work for You
Knowing your entitlements and taking advantage of them means extra money in the bank, so don’t be shy to ask questions and explore your options. Becoming financially savvy can help you discover new ways to reduce costs and keep more of your income, allowing you to work smarter, not harder.
Some of your expenses may be tax deductible, so speak to your tax agent or accountant. Remember to do this annually as government entitlements, and tax deductions often change. Compare insurances and utility providers, make the switch, and cancel services you no longer require.
Aside from this, there are options such as trust funds, superannuation contributions, salary packaging, living away from home allowances, scholarships for students, and much more.
For someone unfamiliar with these options, navigating what works best can be incredibly confusing and overwhelming. So, instead of spending endless hours researching online, connect with a reputable financial advisor or accountant who you can trust, and talk to friends and family about ideas and options.
Planning for the Future
At some stage in life, most people worry about their future, especially when it comes to financial security. As part of a personal financial plan, you might want to consider some of the following products to give yourself and your family extra protection:
- Life Insurance
- A will that is specifically structured to meet the needs
of your family
- Income, trauma, or serious illness insurance policies
- Savings plans to achieve long-term goals
Be Creative and Stay Positive
While financial pressures can plunge us into an anxious state of mind, being creative with budgeting will help you feel more at ease, and teach your young ones valuable life skills. Aside from the options discussed above, there are creative ways to reduce the cost of living and increase your cash flow:
- Community Exchange Systems (CES) and Local Energy Trading Systems (LETS).
- Offering cash-in-hand services within your local community.
- Preventing impulse purchases by buying groceries online or from small local shops and sticking to a meal plan.
- Switching to less expensive mobile phone and broadband providers.
- Rethinking your commute by carpooling, biking, or working from home if that option is available to you.
Incorporating free self-care practices such as ten-minute meditations or a walk in the park to curb any online shopping addictions can also help keep you calm, and sharing childminding with friends and family saves care costs.
Always remember that by approaching budgeting with a goal-focused mindset, you can learn to feel less stressed and anxious about covering unexpected or significant costs. Having a plan B in place can also be a huge relief. While this is easier said than done, taking time out can help calm your mind and regain the strength to approach your finances from an objective perspective.
Setting aside quiet time to plan and review is especially important for parents and carers of children with complex needs, as this allows you to concentrate and take your personal wants and needs into consideration too. Various local not-for-profit agencies and NDIS service providers offer professional respite care services, giving you the space to breathe and focus while knowing your child’s needs are fully met.
As you become more comfortable with tracking and learning about your finances, you might feel more relieved knowing your family’s needs will be met, which boosts your mental health, interpersonal relationships, and overall well-being too.
4 More Money Saving Ideas
- Cut down on your electricity bill by checking if there is a better electricity tariff for you and your family. You could also hang the laundry out to dry, rather than using the dryer – good for the planet and your pocket!
- Cut down on food waste by getting creative with your food scraps. You can pickle watermelon rinds, make your own stock, use up stale bread by making bread pudding, bread crumbs or croutons… the list goes on!
- Check out free reward programs like ShopBack, where you can get a percentage of cash back from eligible purchases. Stores that are currently participating with ShopBack include Target, Big W, Uber Eats and more. Be mindful to only purchase the things that you would already be buying and don’t get sucked into buying more than you otherwise would. To get $5.00 when you join, use the referral code 0kE47b.
- Use the 30 day rule for any non-essential purchases. Instead of buying that item on the spot, take 30 days to think about it. This helps curb any impulse purchases you might later regret.