By Jane Sanfield.
If you’re like most new mums, you’re probably feeling pretty exhausted and in need of a break. But taking a young family away doesn’t come cheap and no vacation can be relaxing if you’re stressed out about how you’re going to pay for it all the time.
Rather than panicking or sticking your head in the sand, the answer is to find creative ways to save money so that by the time you jet off into the sun you know that being able to settle the bill at the end isn’t one of your worries. Here are some tips that should help you get there.
1. Open a dedicated bank account
Start by setting up a vacation bank account – this is a critical first step. It’ll cost you nothing and that way you can set aside money specifically for the family break without being tempted to use it on other things. Another good idea is to arrange automatic monthly transfers so that a set amount goes from your salary, for instance. That way you’ll have the satisfaction of watching the balance grow over time and it should motivate you to stay focused.
“That much-needed holiday can be within your reach – it’s just a question of prudent planning and budgeting.”
2. Review household bills
Take a look at your monthly bills and see if there’s any scope to reduce what you’re currently spending. A full money makeover will take around 10 hours, but it’ll be well worth it so make the time. This may mean switching providers of gas or electricity, for instance, often easier to do than you may imagine. Equally, it may mean ditching certain things; do you really need cable or Netflix now you’ve got your hands full looking after a baby anyway or could you live without it for a while? Also, make sure you restrict yourself to only using one credit card.
3. Eat in
Forget restaurants and takeout for the time being; it can be quite stressful with a small person in tow. Same goes for the Starbucks coffee. Eating in makes so much more financial sense; once you get in the habit you may find you never go back to your old ways. You may be able to shop smarter too – buying unbranded basics from lower-priced supermarkets or just identifying some things you don’t really need (think sweets and soda) and leaving them out of your grocery cart for this period.
4. Save the change and pay in cash
As the old English saying goes, ‘Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves.’ You may imagine that just saving change and putting it aside wouldn’t amount to anything, but you’d be surprised how it can add up – especially if you encourage all family members to get involved. It’s also true that, for some reason, paying for items in cash means you’re less likely to overspend; somehow, it focuses the mind on the total sum. Remember that if you are really stuck at the end of your saving period you can also consider a reverse mortgage for any shortfall (read here for more about reverse mortgages in South Africa).
5. Walk or get on your bike
By opting to walk or cycle you may well save money on transport costs, as well as get fit; it’s a good excuse to get out into the fresh air with your little one so it’s a win-win situation. There are wonderful cargo bikes on the market that make it possible to cycle with a toddler. You could even consider doing some paid dog walking to boost the holiday coffers – a furry friend would almost certainly provide welcome entertainment to a small person in a pram.
Don’t let money worries put you off; that much-needed holiday can be within your reach – it’s just a question of prudent planning and budgeting. So long as you set up a dedicated holiday fund and put all the tips listed above into practice, you’ll soon be miles away from home and enjoying a cocktail in the sun.