During difficult financial times, it is important to keep tabs on what you and your family are spending, as well as whether you are owed any money that could make your lives easier. It can be a bit of an effort to conduct this activity, but it is worth it when you can make savings in certain areas. It is always reassuring to know that you can meet the basic living expenses, even if you have to cut some leisure days and luxury items from your spending.
So if you are in need of a family finance meeting with your partner, and maybe even your children, here are a few of the things you should discuss:
Shelter / accommodation
Why don’t you reflect on the place that you are currently living? Is it the right size, or could you afford to downgrade? This might be the case if one or two of your children have left home for university and you can no longer afford to keep their rooms on the off-chance that they decide to return home. You might be able to make a change whether you are renting or have bought your house, so discuss the options that might be suitable for you and your family. If you do want to stay put and have a spare bedroom, perhaps you could consider renting it out to a suitable person.
Transportation / commuting
How do you get to work? Do you have a dependency on a car when it isn’t always necessary? Travelling can cost a lot, especially as prices continue to rise in terms of train season tickets and motor insurance. See whether you can make some lifestyle changes that will help you to get fit, whilst saving money. Try and walk more than you have been; there is no reason to use your car to go to the shops when they are just down the road. Remember that your own habits can affect the attitudes of your children, so try and lead by example.
Clothes / shoes
There are some things which will always be essential purchases; this includes school uniforms, winter coats and shoes that fit comfortably. However some families often spend more than they need to on these items, choosing things that have premium price tags. Kids don’t need high-end items as they will outgrow them quickly anyway; let them use Christmas or birthday money if they want shoes or clothes that exceed the family budget. Supermarkets are ideal for clothing as there are often sales, as well as the basic prices being fairly reasonable.
Money you are owed
Just like businesses can sort out mis sold interest swaps, homeowners could look at things like mis-sold payment protection insurance for credit cards and loans. You might be owed money that you are not currently aware of, so it is worth doing your research. It could also be the time to chase up IOUs that have been issued to various family members over the years…