How little can I spend on these things?

(22 Posts)
Possiblyorange Sat 22-Feb-14 14:04:55

Need to minimise outgoings in a big way. Plenty of our outgoings are immoveable (rent, council tax etc), but some are, I think. I have no idea what is reasonable for us as a family though, after years of alternating a boom and bust cycle depending on how business (I am SE, DH employed) has been going (wise or what?!). I really want to start to get things on an even keel, clear the debt and start to build up a few months' worth of buffer zone, so need to start being sensible.

We are a family of four (almost five), one school age DC, one starting preschool in September and one due any day (which will be breastfed and cloth nappied, if only to save cash!). House is relatively new, under a decade old, but a big four bedrooms as I have one room as an office for seeing clients in.

Here are the outgoings which I think might be negotiable (if there are any I've missed, please let me know!). All costs are per month:
gas and electricity: £200
water: £85 (SW, v expensive, but even so....)
landline phone, wanky BT vision box (signed up for by DH in Jan, grr), broadband: £41
food (inc cleaning prods, nappies for DC2): £450
petrol: £250 (£150 on DH's commute)
car maintenance/tax/insurance: £90
family spends (clothes, weekend fun, haircuts): £550-ish

Is that insane/reasonable or what for a family our size? I honestly have no idea any more.

DublinDoll Sat 22-Feb-14 14:14:33

The biggest one that jumps out at me if the £550 on family spends. Surely this can be cut back a lot?

nocutsnobuttsnococonuts Sat 22-Feb-14 14:22:46

I would say the family spends could be cut down - maybe try and cut it to £100 per week then you would have £150 per month you could save.

Possiblyorange Sat 22-Feb-14 14:46:18

Family spend did surprise me with how high it is, but we don't see to do much with that money - no fancy lunches out or anything, very occasional trips out to an aquarium or zoo type things.

I work in an industry where looking 'current' matters so need to spend something on clothes.

Maybe £75 for clothes on me, £50 on haircuts, £75 for DH and DC clothes? Which with a days out kitty of £40pw (£170pm) and national trust membership of £7.50pm comes to, ermmm, under £380. How the hell are we currently spending £550?! Depressing.

eggybrokenoff Sat 22-Feb-14 14:54:41

family spend is huge. even needing to look current surely you and dcs dont need clothes every month? look for a cheap hairdresser to come to house once every two months to cut all your hair. honestly for us a lot of months that figure has to be zero. free activities, picnic food and no takeaway coffees etc.

Mum2Fergus Sat 22-Feb-14 15:04:32

Think your best bet to save money would be to write up a full budget. I went back nearly a years worth of card and bank statements...very boring but so glad I did!

Once you have all your spending written down its easier to see where you can save...

addictedtosugar Sat 22-Feb-14 15:05:50

Your gas and elec looks high to me. 4 bed newish build here, and were under £100/month. OK, so were all out of the house 5 days a week now, but I'd look at the usage and what it would cost with another supplier.

I don't really monitor what we spend on food, but everything is done at tesco (0.3mil away, and closest shop). over chistrmas we had an offer where we had to spend 110 every week for 4 weeks, and I really struggled, so I'd think the supermaket shop could be cut.

The £550 family spend definitely needs more investigation as to how its all been spent. DH/Kid clothes sounds expensive. As does yours, tho you say you need it, how much is need, and how much want?

Check all the insurances are the best value when they come up for renewal.

Have you check the bank balance to make sure there are no e.g. old gym memberships still going out?

IslaValargeone Sat 22-Feb-14 15:10:29

Agree with the others about family spends, it sounds a huge amount.

Possiblyorange Sat 22-Feb-14 15:41:06

Mum2fergus I have been monitoring our spends through You Need a Budget for three months now, which is where these figures have come from. To be honest blush these are us being semi-careful, I dread to think what we were spending before we started the budget!

Gas and electric seemed high to me too addicted. We have no build up of DD payments from last year to see us through, so I suppose over the course of the year we might be able to build up some credit for next winter, but even so it seems insane. Google seems to suggest our usage is very much at the high end of things, rather than average family household use. I work from home so have lights/computer on, but the heating is only on for an extra hour during the day apart from morning/evening switch ons to warm the house up. The bigger part of our bill is electric, rather than gas, which suggests it's not heating. We have a monitor, I suppose the only thing to do is go round turning things on and off and seeing what uses energy?

Does it really seem tons on clothes? I suppose realistically it is, but it seems that if there isn't something 'big' needed (new shoes for one of the DCs) there's a run of things like new school t-shirts, underwear etc. I used to be quite good about buying all their clothes on ebay, but have got lazy over the past couple of years with being so busy trying to earn more money. Silly catch 22 situation really! Likewise I suspect I could get more of my work clothes on ebay if I tried harder.

Feeling really blue about all of this, feel like we must have been so out of touch with reality for the past couple of years. We are actually looking at potentially making a massive change - getting rid of our childcare and me being more of a SAHM/working evenings to make up the shortfall. Basically we need me to earn something to meet even basic food and bills, and obviously I can earn more with childcare in place. However, I've only started earning more than the childcare costs in the past few months, and now with the arrival of DC3 inevitably income will drop again, so we'll be looking at more debt in order to keep childcare in place for perhaps six months before I am earning much again, which really seems unachievable given that we are in debt already from the past couple of years. Ugh, such a mess.

Mum2Fergus Sat 22-Feb-14 15:45:42

Pop over to the debt support thread on Money Matters...tips there on how to get spending under control ...

Iamnotanugget Sat 22-Feb-14 15:45:55

What are you doing with your old clothes? If you're spending £75 a month on clothes you must have a lot of clothes. If they are still in good condition and fairly current are you ebaying/facebooking them? I actually don't think £550 for clothes, entertainment etc is that much. I do think your energy bills are too high. We have a 4 bed semi that's around 80 years old and we pay £90 a month. I also think your groceries bill is high. We have myself, dh, one dc(5) and one dc still in cloth/disposable nappies with another on the way. We are a vegetarian household but have organic dairy and eggs and our bill is £60-70 per week.

Possiblyorange Sat 22-Feb-14 15:51:05

TBH I don't have tons of clothes - have been pregnant/BFing then losing weight for the last six years, so have got clothes for every single dress size, maternity wear and BF access clothes! At least after this pregnancy I can ebay maternity wear.

Kids clothes are bought new for the eldest, and then handed down, although less and less is ok to hand down as they get older and actually wear their clothes out. We have tons of baby clothes though, so no expenses there at least.

Will look at the debt support thread. Stupidly because I have kept seeing our debt as a short term solution to a very temporary problem (i.e. to keep us going until the business grew more), I don't have the mentality of "we are in debt and need to deal with it." Which is insane, really, since we have ploughed through our (not enormous, but significant to us) savings and got into debt over the past 24 months.

LauraBridges Sat 22-Feb-14 16:45:46

Could one of you get a job at the weekends? Might be easier than cutting back.

Possiblyorange Sat 22-Feb-14 17:01:59

Laura I can work weekends (for myself) to try to cover the shortfall a bit. I'm quite often working one day on the weekend anyway, but I could easily up it to, say 50% of weekend days. I'm 8 months pg so no chance of an external job, and am more or less housebound with SPD at the moment so reluctant to ask DH to get a second job and leave me with childcare on the weekends at the moment, as it would be so utterly miserable for everyone. I can definitely do more myself though.

Mum thanks again for the debt support thread link, has been interesting reading and has made me actually sit down and add up the couple of little overdrafts, soon-to-be-overdue employers NI bill etc. It is sad reading, but better to know the facts than be head in the sand I guess (not that it feels that way at the moment!)

Mum2Fergus Sat 22-Feb-14 17:07:53

You're welcome...it's never an easy read when you put it all down...but stick around in the thread. I'm sure we've another girl due same time as you too smile

Splatt34 Sat 22-Feb-14 17:13:50

We are a family off 4 (DDs 3.4 & 9 months). We've cut our groceries from circa �500 to �330 (including formula, nappies, wipes) by switching to Aldi and cutting back on alcohol and treats at home (Have als lost 5kg smile)

I put �550 in our joint account for groceries and "family spends" & �70 in my "treat fund" each month. DH then has his "pocket money" from his pt job (his words not mine) but all in that is alot less than your groceries and family spends.

�50 EVERY month for haircuts seems huge.
Days out for us involve park and picnic, walk and feed the ducks, movies for juniors (�1 each), etc. We might go to a safari park/zoo a couple of times a year but always use our tesco clubcard vouchers to pay for this. If we go out to eat it is always with a voucher.

Possiblyorange Sat 22-Feb-14 17:23:52

I will do mum2, thanks. Will be sitting down and having a proper chat with DH about it this evening too. Need to get some strategies in place to solve the current crisis and avoid it happening again.

Splatt thanks for sharing your figures. We shop about 50% at Lidl/Aldi and DH and I hardly drink at all, which makes the food spend even crazier, doesn't it?! Haircuts I would find so hard to cut down on - it makes such a difference to how I feel about myself (obviously it's not all me, but I'm the main haircut culprit at £35 every six weeks!). Maybe I could go utterly wild and start booking them every seven weeks. Would save a haircut a year, which doesn't seem much but at the stage we're at every little counts I suppose!

I am aware I am coming across as v vain and shallow on this with my essential clothes and hair spend, by the way grin. I honestly do work in a job where looks matter (am not a hooker, honest!), but then part of the reason I work in that industry is because I love that side of it too, so it's swings and roundabouts.

Splatt34 Sat 22-Feb-14 17:54:52

TBH I've spent for �300 in the last 2 weeks on clothes for me (return to work from mat leave and weight loss as my justification). BUT we have no debt apart from the mortgage and I'd saved the money for the splurge. I probably should get my haircut every 6 weeks but before I know it 3 months have passed. If you are in debt and over spending you may need to reassess. I'm sorry to sound harsh.

I buy DCs clothes in the sales a size or 2 up. I have a huge box including next winter's coat and Christmas outfits.

vintagesewingmachine Sun 23-Feb-14 09:05:32

I get almost all of mine and DCs clothes from EBay and sell any outgrown or rarely worn stuff. I save 50 odd quid a month by dyeing my own hair and trimming the ends myself (very long and straight so not difficult, I admit). I spend around £50 per week on all groceries using Aldi or Lidl with occasional top ups for stuff I can't get in either of those two. I cook from scratch and have three freezers to store reduced for quick sale meat which I often pick up very cheaply in my local co-op. I batch cook at the weekend and freeze the results as I work full time and just do not have the energy to cook properly when I get home in the evenings.
We also started to write down every penny we spent at the start of the year and it is amazing how much money trickles away on things like car parks and lunch from the local Deli. DH has realised that his twice weekly baguette plus coffee was coming in at £40 a month and thus nearly £500 a year which is obscene so we make our own lunch and take a jar of decent coffee to work instead.
I used to find it a real drag but now I actually get a bit of a kick out of being frugal and seeing how much we haven't spent at the end of the month compared to our previous devil-may-care attitude.

AmberSpyglass Sun 23-Feb-14 09:47:06

What I found worked was to divide the budgets even further, so instead of "family spends" I would have "dc's activities", "haircuts", "clothes dc", "clothes me" etc and then have columns where you write down what you've spent out of each budget so you can see exactly where the money is going. You might find you over estimated one thing but under estimatesld something else.

Family spends seems really high to me, So does gas & elec, food and the bt vision thing. Are you tied into that for a certain length of time because that may not be really necessary. Are you on the absolute cheapest utility deal you could find? Is there the option of switching? Food is relatively easy to cut down unless you're already shopping at Aldi, meal planning, slow cooking, buying cheaper cuts, having vegetarian days, dropping a brand (i.e Heinz to supermarket own) etc.

Family spends, even if you need to look current (dying to know what you do!) could you check out eBay, or be more creative with outfits so you get more from less? Dc's surely don't need new clothes every month. Could you do their haircuts yourself? (This may depend on their ages!) Days out can be mainly free, museums, parks etc, with maybe the odd spendy one here and there. But always bring your own lunch, bring a travel mug of coffee for you so you're not tempted by the cafe. Congratulations on your new little one, by the way smile

specialsubject Mon 24-Feb-14 14:23:21

haircuts can go eight weeks easily. Also consider a lower maintenance style.

stop clothing spending for you, fashion doesn't change that quickly and I bet even with your changing body shape (for obvious reasons!) you have far more than you need.

working3jobs Mon 24-Feb-14 22:02:36

www.stoozing.com/calculator/soa.php

forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=562271

this is where I started....hope it helps.

I think there is loads you can cut back on btw! smile

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