By Mandy Loh
Everyone loves a good deal, and being able to save both time and money sounds a little too good to be true. This is especially so for new parents who find themselves having too little of either! Thankfully, with a some advanced planning, it is possible to organise your daily activities to stretch those two precious commodities. Here are five simple tips:
1) Create a Family Budget
This is the first crucial step in managing your family finances prudently. While coming up with a financial plan for the family may sound like time-consuming work, it really does not have to be. Outsource the heavy-duty research to professional financial planners, who have the experience and knowledge to draw up a comprehensive proposal for you. All you have to do is let them know what you would like to achieve, and they will do the rest.
Says Paul See, Founder of Priority Wealth Pte Ltd: “Do bear in mind that your family budget should take into account fixed expenses (eg. mortgage and car loans), variable expenses (eg. utilities and groceries) as well as longer-term financial plans such as insurance and savings (eg. life insurance, endowment plans for your child, retirement savings for your future). After most of your financial commitments are taken care of, the rest will be disposable income for you and your spouse to tap upon, as and when needed.”
Once the budget is set up, it becomes relatively easy to follow it and ensure that your income is used wisely and efficiently. This saves time, avoids conflict, and definitely helps you save money, since you will be more disciplined about how you spend as you keep track of your expenditure.
2) Breastfeed your baby
The World Health Organisation promotes breastfeeding as the best source of nourishment for infants and young children. Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for the first six months of life, and encouraged to continue up to two years of age or beyond.
Not only is breast milk the best food for your baby, it is also free! Plus, it saves you money from having to buy formula milk, as well as time spent buying the powder, washing and sterilising bottles, and preparing the feed! Even though nursing takes time, mums can make use of the opportunity to catch up on some much-needed rest, and bond with the baby too.
3) Cook instead of eating out
Home-cooked meals are undoubtedly healthier, more nutritious, and kinder on the wallet than eating out. Although cooking is admittedly a time-consuming activity, here are a few suggestions to make it more efficient:
- Cook stews, soups or pasta sauces in large batches, and freeze the rest in appropriately sized portions. You will end up with 3 or 4 ready-meals for other days, just from one day’s work!
- Use a slow cooker to make easy, fuss-free meals. You just need to literally throw in all the ingredients, and leave it for a few hours to do its magic, with hardly any supervision required in between.
- Team up with a neighbour to take turns cooking on pre-agreed days – e.g. you cook for both families on Mondays and Wednesdays, and she cooks for both families on Tuesdays and Thursdays while you take a break. This will halve your cooking time each week!
4) Shop Smart
Be strategic about your grocery shopping. Plan a weekly grocery trip with a prepared shopping list, so that you are able to get all you need quickly and efficiently. It might make sense to travel a little further to get to a hypermarket where things are usually priced more cheaply. Stock up on items you use regularly when they are on sale, but make sure you double-check the expiry dates for perishables.
You may also wish to explore online shopping, which saves you time from making a trip out. Many of such websites even provide free delivery with a certain minimum amount spent. Check out https://redmart.com, www.egrocy.com, www.orderonline.sg as well as online ordering services offered by well-known supermarkets such as NTUC Fairprice and Cold Storage.
Serene Ng, 29, mum with a newborn says: “I transited from online buying of maternity wear to grocery shopping…it was a breeze and hassle free. It saved me a lot of time, having to lug a newborn with me, find transport to the supermarket, queue to pay and get back home. What’s more, it was much easier for the bulky items to be delivered directly to my home. But do ensure you are home when they deliver!”
5) Swops and Pre-loved Items
Let friends and family know that you would be most happy to receive pre-loved/ hand-me-down clothes and toys for your child. This will save you a bundle of money, and also quite a bit of time from having to shop for such items yourself. Babies and little kids will be happy with whatever toys and clothes they are given anyway. Just be sure you clean them thoroughly before passing on to them.
In addition, children tend to get bored of their toys very quickly. If you are able to gather a group of parents with children of similar age group, you could set up an informal toy-swop arrangement among yourselves. Each parent will offer up a few toys that their child has lost interest in, and swop it for toys from other parents. This will save you time, money and minimise clutter in the house, while the little ones get new and exciting toys to play with!
“I shared my sons’ toys with a friend of mine. Every few weeks we swopped the coloured cars, figurines and other play items. So it felt like they were playing with something new all the time!” says Amanda Sng, 33, mother of two boys, aged two and four.
We hope these tips will help you maximise your time, stretch your dollar, and most importantly, enjoy family time to the fullest!