5 Best Tips For Saving During the School Term

Phew!  Term 1 is done and dusted and you might’ve splashed out a little more than anticipated during the school break… oops!  Time to get organised and overhaul the spending – here we have a few tips to get you started on that term-time budget.

1. Make a Meal Plan (and Stick to It!)

Make a meal plan for the family each week – use this meal plan to create a shopping list and try not to deviate too much from the list.  Oh, forgot to add onion to the list for the Bolognese or think some coriander will set off your Thai soup?  All good, toss it in.  But be wary of unnecessary additions from the middle aisles; ever noticed that in most supermarkets the fruit and vegetables, butcher, bakery and milk are on the far sides and back of the store?

On that note - never shop while you’re hungry!  Some of us in the Ferratum Australia office fall into the trap of going grocery shopping after a full day of work and find ourselves adding unnecessary chips and chocolate to the shopping basket.

Buy non-perishable items like flour and sugar in bulk (the cost per amount will be less), or if meat is on special, stock up.  You can freeze the meat in meal sized amounts for later down the track.

Unless you intend to shop for a child’s party or for two months of supplies, avoid using the shopping trolley.  Shopping trolleys can subconsciously encourage us to add more items to fill the cart, so bring your own bags or use a handbasket.  When adding items, round the price to the nearest dollar and make a mental tally of how much everything in your basket costs (or write prices down on your shopping list).  Bonus – your mental arithmetic will get faster!

 

2. Pack Lunch

For both you and your little ones!  Try to limit tuckshop lunches to once a term; you can provide your children with far more nutritious food for cheaper.  Make sure you include lunches in your aforementioned meal plans.  You can get creative with sandwiches to avoid getting bored – different breads (sourdough, wholemeal, rye), fillings (ham, turkey, chicken, salami, different cheeses), veggies and sauces/spreads.  Perhaps let them have their beloved Nutella once in awhile.

For busy parents, keep an eye out for specials on muesli bars and stock up – they are super easy to pop in a lunchbox for recess.  Otherwise, you can make your own healthier options with your choice of grains, nuts and dried fruit (get online for inspiration!).  Muffins and banana bread can be made on the weekends for the week and provide you with a kid-friendly activity to keep young hands occupied.

 

3. Ideas for Entertaining Kids

Need some time out?  Set up a reciprocal babysitting system with your friends (or their friend’s parents) – gives the kids someone to play with and you some much needed time off. 

Join a toy library – young minds often have a short attention span and the new cool toy only stays cool for a few minutes.  Instead of forking out big for a large toy collection, toy library is cost effective and means there’ll be less clutter!  Win-win.

If they’re a bit older, take them to a library and sign them up for their own library card.  In this digital age, kids are being more and more exposed to screens, be it the tablet, TV or computer. Reading helps develop their mind and imagination. 

Making things with playdough, cardboard and sticky tape is a cheap way to entertain the kids.  Instead of spending up big on tubs of Play-Do, make your own playdough with flour, salt, oil, water and food colouring – and teach your kids about mixing colours at the same time!

Extra-curricular activities are a great way to have your child learn a skill, but be strategic about the number of activities as the costs do add up!  If possible, try to have your kids enrolled in group sessions rather than one-on-one coaching/tutoring, as this will generally be more cost effective.  Ensure they practice their skill outside of the extra-curricular classes, so that they get the most out of the classes.

Make family time on weekends or evenings – go for a walk, ride your bikes around the neighbourhood, go to the beach or lake, go rollerblading or walk the dog.  If it’s rainy, stay in and play games – you can have hours of fun with Monopoly, Operation, Uno or when they’re a little older, Trivial Pursuit.  Haven’t got any board games?  Write a list of topics (fruits, brands, cars, actors, etc) and have someone call out a letter and see how many unique answers you can come up with in 2 minutes.  Or grab an easel, some large paper and a Texta, choose a movie title and see whether your family can guess what you’re drawing.  Charades and I Spy can also keep them entertained.

 

4. School Supplies

Try to buy as many textbooks as possible secondhand – either from the schools second hand bookshop, or get online.  If choosing online, make sure to get organised early to ensure the items arrive in time! 

Buy clear contact plastic to cover the books, to keep the books in good condition for longer.  If you want younger kids to use the same books, you will thank yourself!

Label your child’s clothing; a few dollars on nametags could save a large much more in lost items!  It is very easy for little ones to take off their jumper or jacket and forget where they left it.  Also, ensure all their books are labelled with their name.

 

5. Learn to Say No

When you look into that cute face, big eyes, butter wouldn’t melt in their mouth… can’t help but want to buy them everything they want?  Don’t.

Children do not need every new toy or gadget that they ask for.  Or if you give in and buy that Iron Man toy or Frozen doll or an iPad, teach them to share with their siblings.  This can also help the children become more socially balanced and learn life lessons early.

If they’re a little older, teach them about spending power – take them to the shops with their pocket money and explain to them what they can and cannot buy with the amount they have.  Lessons of living within their means will better their financial understanding for when they’re older.

 

 

Still sometimes unexpected costs pop up and payday seems so far away.  This is where Ferratum Australia can help, with our fast, online cash loans.  Check out our range of speedy short term loans here!