Are you struggling to make ends meet on a monthly basis? So many of you are and with rises in Minimum Wage, other inevitable increases in expenditure and the distinct lack of adequate funding from the Government it's not surprising that we are all (me included) looking for ways to reduce our outgoings whilst at the same time increasing fees.
Before you raise your fees it's a good idea to review and take stock of your monthly outgoings to identify where you could save money. Here are 11 of my best money saving tips to help.
1. Use a spending tracker
This is always a good place to start and can actually be quite an eye opener as to where all that money goes each month. Spend an entire month noting down everything you spend from big invoices to the packet of biscuits you bought on your way in. Usually when I work with clients on this the biggest offender for unnecessary expenditure is the petty cash tin!! Doing this will help you see where you might be spending money you don't need to.
2. Create a budget
And more importantly stick to it. Know exactly how much you have each month to spend on consumables, replacement equipment, food and drink etc. and keep within the budget. It's also a good idea to make staff aware of this too so that they don't become too exuberant in their spending. If there are items that they would like (rather than things that the children need) they can add them to a wish list.
3. Use comparison sites for your energy bills.
I imagine lots of you do this at home for your own bills but do you do it for your setting? Most energy companies are, quite frankly, ripping us all off and whilst 11 million people use comparison sites to switch their home energy only a small percentage of these do the same for their business. Another way to save money on your energy bills is to switch to LED light bulbs, although more expensive to buy they save a third in the energy used by a normal bulb and last longer.
4. Shop around.
Just like with energy it pays to shop around when your insurance renewal comes through. Many of the large providers of childcare insurance have increased their prices exponentially in previous years but we continue to pay it as we think we have no choice. WRONG! If you go to any insurance broker and show them the cover that you currently have they will be able to shop around for you to find you the best deal. It may be that the one you have is the best but isn't it worth checking?
5. Get a better mobile deal.
How often do you use the mobile phone at your setting? Enough to warrant paying high monthly fees for data, texts and calls that you don't use? I recently switched my personal mobile from a monthly contract where I was paying £36 a month to pay as you go. It now costs me £15 per month to top up and use that credit to buy a package which gives me the same as the contracted one did! Remember with a lot of these deals you are paying monthly for the phone itself. Once you're contract has ended (or you've paid off the cost of the phone) it's worth looking into switching.
6. Food shopping.
There are several ways to cut down your weekly food shop for your setting. Firstly you could ask parents to donate fruit for snack on a weekly basis. This works for some settings but not for all though. Other things to try are buying in bulk if you have a nearby cash and carry, using online shopping to do a monthly comparison of the most expensive items you buy and to use websites which offer you cash back on things you purchase. Another good tip is to save the points and vouchers from supermarkets and redeem them for events such as end of year parties or Christmas when your food costs are higher
7. Quit being part of a throw away society.
Okay this one is a little more tricky and I'm not for one second suggest you give children items that are unsafe for them to use but many of us are all too quick to throw things away just because they're a little ragged around the edges. Got dressing up clothes with tears and rips, find someone who is a whizz with a needle and thread who can repair them for you. Missing a screw from a chair, take another one out and go to the DIY store to find a match. You get the picture. Make "Repair before Replace" your new motto.
8. Sell your clutter.
This is a bit of an add on to the point above. If you have things in your setting which are not broken but have seen better days or resources which never see the light of day why not sell them on to people who may appreciate them. Use sites like Ebay, Shpock or Facebook Market Place or you could hold a good old fashioned jumble sale and invite parents to buy a stall. That way you clear your clutter and make money at the same time.
9. Check subscriptions.
How often have you signed up to something, usually software related, where you get the first month free and then forget to cancel it! Or what about those magazine subscriptions that auto renew and cost you upwards of £100 per year and all that happens is they sit in the staff room gathering dust! It's thought that on average people spend around £30 per month subscribed to things that they no longer want, use or need. Get checking and if you have things on auto renew without realising, cancel it.
10. Review, review and then review some more.
Remember that budget that we were talking about before. As well as writing it and sticking to it its also really important that you review it. At the end of every month compare what you've actually spent against your budget. Doing so will enable you to adjust it accordingly throughout the year and if you have anything left over you could always purchase something from that wish list you have.
11. Save a contingency.
This may seen like a bizarre statement when this blog is all about cutting your expenditure but please, please try and put even a little something away each month. It's inevitable that there will always be times when you need a little extra and including a contingency in your budget is essential.
Do you have any money saving tips of your own? Share them in the comments as I'd love to hear them.