This is a guest post by Kathryn Thompson.

I don’t know of any families with kids who aren’t experiencing the same parenting issues at the moment – too many days in the month for the money to stretch over. We are all financially challenged.

The kids seem to be getting bigger by the minute and their clothes getting smaller, the food bill is going up and the bank balance going down and the number of school trips is increasing without any sign of the cost of them decreasing. What are us moms supposed to do?

The answer is get tough and get budgeting – properly (which doesn’t include scribbling random sums on the back of envelopes)

There are a number of ways to help make your cash stretch further.

Food Shopping

The secret here is to plan ahead. Before you even think about heading out the door to the supermarket, you need to have decided what you’ll be eating every day for the next week and approximately how much you’ll have to spend.

If possible, this should include; breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as planning snacks, deserts and any school lunches needed for the kids.

Collect your coupons, saving vouchers and shopping reward cards and off you go.

Once at the supermarket of your choice, whip out your mobile and head straight to the calculator. It is imperative you add up the cost of your shopping as you go along. This will stop you from impulse buying and picking up expensive ‘branded’ items that you don’t have the budget for, forcing you to consider cheaper alternatives instead.

Online shopping is also a great way to keep you focused and avoid impulsive urges.

Can’t Cook Won’t Cook

For any discerning mom on a budget, buying pricey ready meals or eating out regularly just isn’t an option. It’s cheaper, tastier and healthier to make your own. I’m not talking cordon bleu or gourmet dinners – it doesn’t take a great deal of skill to rustle up a delicious lasagne or a batch of juicy homemade burgers and crispy fries.

Start with something simple and work upwards from there. Take inspiration from one of your favourites chefs or look online for recipes for the food you love.

Have fun at home

It’s the summer break, it’s raining and the kids are bored. You’re just about ready to either lock yourself in the bathroom for the next week or book an expensive holiday on the credit card that you can’t really afford.

Actually, you don’t need to do either. With a little imagination, it’s possible to entertain the kids at home without spending money or shrieking hysterically at them. The following ideas are great for kids of all ages. Some you may have tried, others you may not. Give them all a go:

  • Baking or smoothie making
  • Build a den using duvets, sheets and blankets. Fill it with cushions and get your kids to decorate flags and banners they can hang around their new abode
  • Play any of the following games: Hide and seek, the chocolate bar game (involving a bar of chocolate, dice and various items of clothing), wink murder, murder in the dark (obviously the latter is best played at night)
  • If you have a tent, set it up in the garden and let them play ‘camping’. Sleep in it with them overnight and cook breakfast on the camping stove.
  • Create a ‘theme week’ – Let your kids chose a theme and spend the entire week dedicating activities to it. For example, for an oriental theme you could make and decorate a Chinese dragon, cook Chinese food, go to the library and find books for research, paint each other’s faces like geisha girls…you get the idea. Fun, and you just might learn something!

With a little planning and creativity, being a budgeting mom really isn’t that bad – think of it as a challenge! Stick with it until it becomes second nature and watch the dimes you save turn into dollars.

This post was written by Kathryn Thompson. Kathryn is an experienced mummy blogger who has covered topics from moving house with children, to parenting on a budget. Kathryn frequently supplements her income by receiving cash-back with Rewardit, the site that allows you to earn while you shop.

Photo credit: Ernst Vikne