This is a competition post, in association with fromspendingtosaving and whichoffshore and it is on a subject we are very, very fond of at The Parent Game, saving money! Fromspendingtosaving is a brilliant new blog, by the writer of Northern Mum, charting one family's all-too-familiar road to solvency, surviving on one income. It's a story most of us know all too well and we all do what we can to make the best of it. It's all about imagination I think, when it comes to a thrifty life with children. We've all heard the older generation telling us how they managed to entertain the children with next to nothing but their imaginations and the great outdoors, but things were different then.
The outdoors were safer; less cars, more familiar people, and we didn't have to compete with our children's friend's latest games console or i-thingummy. But, there are some things money can't buy, and the most obvious, but much overlooked, of these is time. Time spent with your children is the most precious gift you can give, because you're buying them a memory, which they will always have and you don't have to queue up in Argos, or take out a second mortgage to do it.
Invent your own games
My older teen is an excellent resource for this, as she still has the imagination of youth, but can it back it up with some pretty impressive inventing skills! And so were born the Back Garden Olympics! This involved her requesting different skills, such as handstands, forward rolls, etc, awarding points, then presenting the inevitable, hastily constructed medal! Much fun was had by all, and this took care of a whole afternoon!
Games can be made just as easily and cheaply indoors, too. My husband once amused my son for pretty much an entire day, with nothing more than noughts and crosses drawn on small pieces of paper and a tic tac toe grid on the back of a cereal packet! And what about eye-spy? Obvious, possibly, and not really an invention, but very useful for helping children develop observation skills and letter sounds.
Gardening is a brilliant way to amuse children. It's always rewarding to show them the beauty of nature and a packet of seeds can cost less than a pound. We've got our first sunflowers coming up and small son is out there every day, watering and measuring! What better way to help youngsters understand about the benefits of taking care of our environment?
Which brings me on to birds. We can't all keep pets, not least because they can cost quite a lot of money, but it's still possible to introduce children to wildlife instead. In a previous post you'll find a recipe for birdcake, which uses up leftovers, whilst also providing a valuable source for attracting birds to your garden. Even small children can get involved in spotting and identifying different types of birdlife.
Make it happen!
It's not always cheaper to make, rather than buy, but it can be, if you use your noggin. It's surprising what you can recycle from around the home, if you really put your mind to it.
Get Wise to Financial Planning!
I think it's really important to try to get all the family on board when it comes to saving money. Teaching the value of money is the first step in helping children to become responsible spenders. It's well worth looking into a Junior Bank Account to put even a few pounds a month into, so they can watch it grow. Children don't pay tax, so it's a good way to get them to save for their own toys, whilst also getting a better idea of what things cost. Hopefully, over time, this will save you money, as they will be less likely to make unreasonable demands on your purse!
Having a mooch about on the Whichoffshore website, I found out some interesting facts about pensions. Did you know, for example, that you don't have to keep your pension in the UK? You can transfer your UK pension into something called a Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme, which allows you to move it to an HMRC-approved scheme elsewhere, which means you get all the usual UK pension privileges, with the added benefits of tax savings and ease of access. Which is why it's a good idea to look into an offshore pension, if you're are trying to make your money go further, as it seems even grown ups can get a little tax break sometimes!