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20 clever money fixes all mums need to know

Babies can spend money even faster than you can – fact. So it pays to get smart when it comes to what you spend (and save your cash for the fun stuff).

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1. Love a Bargain

Don’t be proud – embrace vouchers and supermarket baby clubs. ‘Sign up to email notifications from money saving and voucher sites for cheap deals,’ says Dan Plant, editor at moneysavingexpert.com.

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2. Freeze food

The average family wastes £700 a year throwing away food, says new research. ‘Reduce this by freezing food near its sell-by date, then just defrosting as needed,’ says Gill Dickinson, from WRAP, the government’s anti-waste agency.

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3. Cut back

Use the Money Advice Service’s calculator to see where you can make savings on your regular buys. The site also has a baby cost calculator you can personalise depending on how much you want to spend.

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4. Give your friends a steer

You could go eco-mum and survive with just a sling – or you could be more realistic. ‘Ask friends to chip in for a buggy for your baby shower. Or check out sites like freecycle.org and the nearly-new sales on nct.org.uk,’ says Salima Lewis, 31, from Kent, who’s mum to Joe, two.

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5. Make a beeline

Going shopping? Beware of the tricks used to part you with your cash. ‘Shops place the most common items at the back of the store, so you have to walk past more expensive goods first,’ says Martin Lindstrom, author of Brandwashed (£14, Kogan Page). Make a list, stay focused, pick up what you need, then make a beeline for the tills.

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6. Save on nappies

‘Supermarkets have four main brand levels: value, own-brand, name brand and premium,’ says Dan. ‘Drop even one brand level and your average bill will be cut by a third.’

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7. Store up a bargain

Seen a great discounted toddler coat, but still have a newborn? Snap it up and store it. ‘Buy clothes a size too big once your baby is a few months old,’ says Karen. ‘You can roll up sleeves and legs to fit.’

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8. Allow for treats

Enjoy a guilt-free latte when your baby has finally dropped off. ‘If it brings you pleasure and it’s not too expensive, keep it up,’ says financial expert Elizabeth Dunn. ‘Focus on saving on the big stuff, like your energy bills.’

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9. Get tailoring

Alarmed by how fast your baby’s growing out of his gorgeous (and expensive) babygros? Snip off the feet to make them last a few more months.

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10. Save on techno-toys

If your tot’s the only one in his nursery not to have a tablet, don’t worry. ‘Toddlers learn more from interactive, face-to-face games than playing on their own,’ says Karen.

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11. Set up a babysitting circle

Create a tag team with mum friends, rather than paying for pricey babysitters. ‘Use social media to set up a group, then you can let friends know when you’re free,’ says Holly Seddon, editor of parenting community network Quib.ly.

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12. Share your childcare

Depending on where you live, it can work out cheaper to share a child minder than use a nursery. A subscription to nannyshare.co.uk costs £25 for six months, allowing you to send and receive messages. Also, ask your HR department if your work place offers childcare vouchers. ‘Many benefits aren’t common knowledge,’ says Holly.

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13. Make your own

If you want to avoid expensive fruit treats, buy bumper bags of raisins instead and portion up in Tupperware pots. Cut cheese into chunks for another nutritious snack to pack for when you’re on-the-go.

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14. Play smart

Little ones won’t know the difference between branded fun parks and your local soft play centre, but these can still be pricey. ‘Check your council website to find cheaper activities,’ says Jasmine Birtles, of moneymagpie.co.uk.

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15. Limit your shop

Eat before your weekly supermarket visit as shopping on an empty stomach makes you spend more, says research. ‘And limit your shop to 30 minutes to avoid straying into the aisles you don’t need,’ says Ali Jones, 28, from Kent, who’s mum to Sam, two. Makes shopping with a baby easier, too…

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16. Pay as you go

If you signed up for a pricey gym membership after the birth of your baby, but can’t remember the last time you were there, choose a cheaper option. Payasugym.com offers day passes for nearly 300 no-frill-gyms across the country. Or try easygym.co.uk, which offers membership for under £20 without a contract, so there’s no cancellation fee. Foregoing the fluffy towels is worth it.

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17. Box clever

Much as mums love wine, you may find having opened bottles linger in the fridge for days – hello, vinegar. A decent box is cheaper and lasts longer as the wine is vacuum-sealed inside. ‘Go for dependable sources – Chile and Australia both have great track records for bag-in-box wines,’ says Helen McGinn, author of The Knackered Mother’s Wine Club (£12.99, Macmillan).

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18. Do debt the smart way

It’s tempting to pay off your biggest debt first, but do it by interest rate instead. If small bills have a high interest rate, reducing your overall debt will take longer and cost you more. ‘Have a look at the interest rate percentage on all of your statements. Find the most expensive and pay as much as you can on it, while making the minimum payment on the others,’ says Jasmine.

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19. Keep a gift drawer

Mums are the worst culprits for giving bad presents, spending far more than we need to, says research. ‘Set up a present basket and collect freebies, sale items and unwanted gifts,’ says Lucy Tobin, author of Ausperity (£7.99, Heron). ‘Next time you remember a birthday at the last minute, you have a stash of gifts to choose from instead of running to the posh toy shop.’

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20. Play for less

‘Before you bin colourful socks and clothes, keep the material back for your craft box,’ says Eithne Farry author of Super Scrimpers (£9.99, Square Peg). ‘They’ll come in handy to make toys with your toddler.’ Ditto egg boxes, sponges and any other interesting spare bits from around the house. Go on, make Mr Maker proud. Image from Corbis.

 

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