We have never had a lot of money but my decision to stay at home with our new baby means that we have gone from a two income family to a one income family. Previously my income was the largest so the challenge we face now feels very real. This month sees the last of my Statutory Maternity Pay so now things get tough.
I have begun planning using two online resources I have found after trying out various online services and apps. The first will help me to track our finances over the coming months. BudgetTracker is an online service that allows you to enter income, expenditure, keep track of debts such as credit cards and loans and set goals. The basic service is free although this is quite comprehensive. It does have a limit to the number of entries you can make in each category. Having spent the morning adding our income and some of our outgoings it seems like it will be really useful. The paid service is not at all expensive and I’m thinking of investing in it as I do think this will help me to be really organised about our finances. The summary page for each month is really useful and I really like the forecasting facility which predicts cash flow over a period of time. My aim is to reduce our debt and to manage our budget in a way that means we always have a positive bank balance (even if only by a few pence). Ultimately I would like to incorporate saving for unforeseen spending such as replacing household equipment, saving for Christmas and birthdays and towards an occasional family holiday (an extremely rare occurrence for us). We don’t have any credit cards but we have a personal loan I’d like to get rid of as well as various other things that could do with clearing.
The second service I found is called Out of Milk. It allows you to create shopping lists and share these across platforms, save them, print or export them. This will help me plan out and budget for our fortnightly meal plans. Although I could easily cut our food spending by buying cheap supermarket options it is really important to me that my family eats well. By this I mean that what they eat should be healthy, filling, prepared from fresh ingredients where possible and wherever possible from local and organic ingredients. I am shopping for two adults, a seventeen year old boy who is an elite athlete with specific nutritional aims, a vegetarian sixteen year old and a six month old baby on a very limited budget so this is going to present a challenge requiring some creative thinking on my part.
The next couple of weeks are going to be about examining our finances really closely. Looking at where savings could be made, setting goals and coming up with a realistic budget for the coming months. I will share our journey here on my blog beginning with detailing our meal plans and food budget.