The Chancellor has done his bit. If this year’s Budget has got you thinking about your own family finances John Ellmore has some help for working dads.
For many working dads balancing the books can feel just as big a task as that faced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
And we know that men in particular feel the pressure when it comes to family finances. That can have a negative effect on their mental health.
John Ellmore is a Director at KnowYourMoney, an independent financial comparison website. He’s drawn up a list of tips to help working dads retain, or regain, control of their money.
Controlling one’s finances as a parent can be a tiring task. After long days at work, looking after the kids and finding time to run errands, it can be easier to lose willpower and begin spending. Especially as the days begin getting longer and we emerge out of the darkest depths of winter, it may be tempting to loosen the purse strings.
Of course, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Spending on yourself and your kids can be an important release and really enjoyable. But it’s always good to have some discipline. Indeed, saving for a rainy day down the line may turn out to wise instead of spending — but only when it’s too late!
So how can parents balance spending with their busy lives and get on top of their finances? As the summer months approach, when having some spending money can be particularly important, it might be worth reflecting briefly on the following points.
Firstly, it’s important to set some boundaries for both yourself and the children. Creating a savings pot might be a good place to start — where you can make weekly or monthly contributions for the future. Whether it be a rainy-day fund in case someone gets sick, or for a big family holiday, creating a back-up fund can provide you great peace of mind. Whilst it may not be possible for everyone, it’s certainly an excellent place to start.
Thereafter, it’s also important to set boundaries for the kids regarding what they should and shouldn’t expect. When their expectations match your financial reality (at least to some degree!), they will be less likely to ask for something unaffordable — and more likely to understand the value of money. Two important lessons for building a healthy relationship with one’s finances.
When kids are nagging for a new toy, gadget, game or experience, it can get quite tiring and difficult to keep saying ‘no’. Instead of that, consider other, less expensive options that might be just as fun. Swap out Disneyland for Legoland, a premier league football match for a local team match, for example. Whilst the children might be reluctant at first, they’ll still appreciate your generosity and the fun of a family activity.
Similarly, when making larger financial decisions, don’t be afraid to compare your options on comparison websites. They are able to research options for various financial products— whether it be insurance or mortgages— and present available options in a jargon-free table, making it easier to decide the most suitable option. Usually, the process is very quick and could end up saving you a significant outlay down the line. Whether it’s family outings, or current accounts, it always pays to assess your options.
One key aspect of saving money long-term is making small savings regularly. By regularly saving £50 a week, for example, you will be able to make significant savings long term. The challenge with children is having the willpower to say ‘no’ or ‘we have that at home’, rather than spending on needless items. However, doing so will help teach your kids the importance of restraint — and the benefits it brings long-term.
If your kids are young and growing quickly, you could also turn to secondhand options as much as possible for things like clothes and pushchairs. Not only is it better for the environment, it can also contribute to your savings. Take a moment to search on Gumtree or eBay or ask a friend or family member if they have stuff you can use, before making an unnecessary outlay.
If things ever become too much and you’re not sure where to turn, be sure to ask for help. Two fifths (41%) of British people say their mental health has deteriorated due to their debt. However, a problem shared is a problem halved. Speaking to a friend or family member will undoubtedly make things easier. And it means your children are less likely to feel caught up in the problem. Failing that, debt charities like StepChange can help alleviate some of the most troubling aspects of debt and help you regain control of your finances.
Controlling your finances as a parent can sometimes be an uphill struggle. The pressures of keeping the kids happy, working, and fulfilling your financial commitments can be tiring. But there are many tools and practices to help ease the process. With enough planning, emotional intelligence, and frugality (when necessary) regaining control of your finances can become much more straightforward. And if things do become more difficult, it’s always worth seeking professional advice.
John Ellmore is Director for Know Your Money. Know Your Money is an independent financial comparison website, launched in 2004. Run by a dedicated team, Know Your Money’s goal is to provide clear, accurate and transparent comparisons for a wide range of financial products, such as business loans, mortgages and car insurance.