Slash your family budget

You’ve gone from sushi to fish fingers, and taught the kids to love one-ply. But still the expenses column is too big for the income. Here are some other ways to cut down on family spending, without having to sell a kid.

Shop online

When you shop with kids, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll end up buying something just to shut someone up, or because there was bribery involved from the start. The money you save not having to buy ice-cream and Hannah Montana bubble bath will go towards the cost of the delivery.

Shopping online does away with most impulse grocery buys, and also saves the cost and hassle of looking for parking. Not to mention the two hours you don’t have to spend in a hot car in a Sandton traffic jam with a toddler now hyped up on the sweets you bought to pacify her in the checkout queue.

Delivery costs vary. For example: PicknPay has a fixed R60 delivery charge, so it pays if you’re doing a big, regular shop. Woolworths varies their delivery charge depending on what time you want it, with the most expensive being R65.

Pay up early

Paying bills early is ironically a great way to avoid overpaying. This applies especially to government institutions such as the tax man or traffic fines.  Pay your credit card bill by the end of each month and you will save interest and stress.

School fees may seem like an expense rather than a saving. But with a bit of planning, you might be able to save on those too. Many schools offer a discount to parents who pay the full annual amount upfront. If you get an annual bonus it’s worth putting it aside to get the school fees out of the way and take advantage of the discount.

Share healthy to save

Buy in bulk, especially in-season produce items such as vegetables, and share with neighbours. A great online source for information on whatever is in season is You can buy health foods in bulk online at

Other clubs such as book or DVD clubs allow you to buy more expensive items and share them with other like-minded people.

Formalise your lift club

You’ve obviously thought of sharing lifts with other families who have the same school or sport run. But there’s more money to be saved by making a formal structure, complete with a spreadsheet. Keep your travelling to one trip a day by scheduling in other parents for various activities, and share the schedule on Google docs so everyone can contribute.

It’s also possible to make money out of lifting other people’s children, but bear in mind you are then operating a business and need to get a PDP (professional driving permit) in order to be properly legal. It only costs R170, which isn’t too bad considering the money you could make.

Travel in a pack

You’ve probably already swopped Mauritius for Margate if times are tough. But there are still ways to have a wonderful family holiday.

Special travel offers are easy to find online: start with GoTravel24’s family friendly options.

If your children are not yet in formal schooling, it’s a must to take advantage of off-peak travel specials.

If you’re stuck with school holidays, ditch hotels and consider renting a self-catering home with another family or two. Shared cooking and cleaning-up duties mean it’s a little less arduous. The built-in entertainment of having other children along means you’ll fork out less on outings.

Go cheap – or free

Become a cheapskate and you could save 100s of Rands. Start by only ever going to movies on Tuesdays. Visit museums on free access days (contact your local one to find out when). Children under 12 often get in free, such as at all the Iziko museums and some, like Kimberley’s Big hole, are always free anyway.

What are your best family money-saving ideas?

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