My British naturalisation application has been approved and so, this Thursday, I’ll pledge allegiance to the Queen and to the United Kingdom to finally become a British citizen. Amusingly, this is making us really look forward to traveling as there’s much more freedom attached to a UK passport than one from Trinidad and Tobago.
But it’s impossible to escape the fact that wanderlust must be tempered with thrift. With me at home with the kids and only working in bits and pieces around them, we do have to keep an eye on our spending habits, especially as we’d like to be able to help our children find their feet in the future the way our own parents have helped us.
So, in an odd way, getting naturalised this week is actually helping me focus on how we develop money saving habits as a family. Here are five ways we’re trying to make it happen.
In the past Laurence and I have sat down together and worked out a budget. Admittedly, we’ve not done this in a while and it is something that needs revisiting soon. I find that the main benefit of budgeting together is that it gets us on the same page in terms of understanding what our financial situation is while making us accountable to each other. I want to get back into using the YNAB app or another system like that because then we literally had to admit to each other when we spent any money. We are in a situation where the odd coffee makes a difference so it really is worth doing.
A lot of our impulse spending comes from not preparing in advance, I’ve found. It’s too easy to rush out of the house without a packed lunch because I’ve not prepped the night before and end up basically throwing money away on a cafe lunch for me and the girls. And then I buy a coffee. Which I could have also packed. A similar thing happens when I haven’t planned our meals and end up throwing something quick together for the girls and ordering takeaway for us. These are two areas I’m really working on.
We’ve been thinking about how to help Talitha to start learning about saving. There seems no better way than to give her some money she has control over. She’s four in June and I hadn’t thought about giving her pocket money until recently when she started asking me to buy her magazines, incessantly. She’s mostly accepted me saying that she needs to finish the ones at home first and I bought her one when we were on holiday last week as a promised treat. But we are starting to have conversations around these things costing money and how we plan what we do with our money.
So I’m introducing pocket money as the start of something new as an Easter tradition (next year, we may carry on the tradition by slightly increasing it). She has a moneybox for saving but I’m making two others with her: one for giving and one for spending. I’m not sure how much of this she’ll understand and how to sort of navigate encouraging her to put money in each box (I’ll probably just explain and leave it up to her) but I think it’s a good habit to start.
Prioritise paying off debt
I think for most of us, clearing debt is one of the most powerful ways we can save money. We’re conscious of our loans and are currently trying to figure what we can do to repay them quickly, possibly even by making a radical change in the way we live. I can’t go into that too much right now but I’m sure I’ll be writing about it in the future.
We have an ISA that we put money into for our children’s future, whether they decide they want to go to university or do something else. It’s a long term investment so it’s relatively high risk and we’re pretty hands off with it. This is definitely something to look into if you’re serious about putting money away and haven’t considered it yet.
You can even open an ISA or pension online with a company like Nutmeg which offers you “an intelligent, fully-managed investment portfolio”. Nutmeg works with you to build a personal portfolio based on your requirements and allows you to set up multiple funds. Read more about it here and take a look at the video below to understand more about how it works.
In Association with Nutmeg