An A-Z guide for budget-savvy mums

Money-saving ideas for young families feeling the pinch

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  • A is for advantage cards

    You've gotta love high street or supermarket loyalty cards. With everything from essential toiletries (we're talking toothpaste, not Clarins!) to baby clothes and nappies, there's plenty to earn and spend your points on.

  • B is for batch-cooking

    Don't make one spaghetti bolognese, make three - bulking up with extra veg to make it go further and freezing the extra. Planning your weekly menu will also avoid expensive wastage.

  • C is for camping

    Cheap, outdoorsy and fun - once you've got your tent and kit, camping holidays are the way forward for budget-conscious parents. Check out coolcamping.co.uk for stunning, family-friendly campsites across the UK.

  • D is for deals

    Stock up on supermarket BOGOFs - from nappies to minced beef - and make good use of your freezer. Be flexible with your shopping list and allow deals to guide you. Visit mysupermarket.co.uk, a site that compares supermarket prices.

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  • E is for email

    Subscribe to money saving websites and get weekly updates emailed to you. For instance, moneysavingexpert.com will send you weekly emails with deals, guides and tips, from car insurance and top savings accounts, to cheap gas and electricity.

  • F is for family finances

    Budgeting doesn't have to involve scary-looking spreadsheets - unless you want it to! The simplest way to keep on top of your finances is to make a list of outgoings and check it off against a list of incoming monies. Include everything - if you spend £10 a week on coffees with your friends, add it to the list. It helps you identify where the money is going, and helps you reprioritise.

  • G is for grow your own

    From tomatoes to lettuce, growing your own will save you pounds, and teach your kids that veg doesn't come in packets. Summer berries are pricey, so all you need is a raspberry bush and a pot of strawberry plants and you'll be quids in.

  • H is for hand-me-downs

    Children grow out of things so quickly, so don't be proud - prompt your mates to hand things they no longer need down to you.

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  • I is for invest and save

    If your child was born before 2 January 2011, you can open a Child Trust Fund with the £250 you are eligible to apply for from the Government (direct.gov.uk). The money grows tax-free and has to stay invested until your child's 18th birthday. Even contributing £25 a month will mean the CTF should be worth more than £5,000 by the time your child turns 18. If your child was born in 2011 or is due this year, the Government has launched the Junior ISA, which came into effect in November 2011. Designed for adults to save and invest for children, money cannot be withdrawn until your child is 18, but it will be tax-free.

  • J is for join a babysitting club

    Rather than staying in or spending a fortune on babysitters, get together with local mums and form a neighbourhood babysitting circle.

  • K is for kicking your heels up

    Every now and again, treat yourself to a special something - a meal with your partner, or drinks with girlfriends. Sticking to a budget is so much easier if you can plan for future treats - life isn't all doom and gloom!

  • L is for library

    Save a fortune on books by joining your library. Most also run Rhyme Time music classes, so there's no need to pay for expensive singing classes when you can go to your local library for a sing-along.

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  • M is for make do and mend

    Sew on buttons, darn socks, and generally look after clothes, rather than buying new ones. Visit startsewing.co.uk for simple explanations of basic skills with useful instructional videos.

  • N is for National Trust

    The joining fee might be a bit of an outlay at first, but you only need to go on a couple of family days out and you'll have made your money back (nationaltrust.org.uk). And the same applies to English Heritage, too. With an annual pass you can visit as many times as you want! Check out your nearest zoo or theme park to see if they offer annual passes as well.

  • O is for own brand

    Choose supermarket labels over brands. For instance, a packet of Sainsbury's Basics cornflakes in a bag costs just 31p and Essential Waitrose toilet tissue costs £1.94 for four.

  • P is for picnics

    Avoid long queues for expensive food when you're out and about by preparing a couple of filled rolls to whip out when hunger strikes. In fact, the first rule of penny-watching mummies is to never go anywhere without a stash of snacks!

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  • Q is for question

    Most of us give our bank statements a cursory glance, then file them away in a drawer. It's worth reading them properly, though, to ensure that the interest rate is correct and that you haven't been charged for anything you haven't bought.

  • R is for recycling

    Wrapping paper, envelopes, unwanted gifts - not only is recycling good for the planet, it's definitely good for your purse too.

  • S is for sales

    Think ahead by stocking up at the sales. Buy next winter's coat as well as other day-to-day basics like T-shirts, trousers and shorts for your little one in the end of season sales, ready to grow into next year.

  • T is for tips

    Why not share your money-saving tips with other mums and mums-to-be in the comment box below?

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  • U is for utilities

    It pays to shop around for the best deal on your broadband, gas and electricity. Check out switch.com to see if you could renegotiate and save money on your provider

  • V is for vouchers

    Sign up to vouchercodes.co.uk for discounts on everything from Debenhams and M&S, to Boden and Pizza Express.

  • W is for water

    Tap water tastes just the same as the bottled stuff and is a great way to save money. Besides, sugar in soft drinks is bad for children's teeth, so get them into the water habit early.

  • X is for tax credits

    If you work, you may be eligible for childcare vouchers schemes, a government-funded initiative which allows parents to pay for childcare with tax-free lump sums from their salary in the form of vouchers. Check out what you're entitled to at taxcredits.gov.uk or workingfamilies.org.uk.

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  • Y is for yummy home-cooking

    Get creative in the kitchen - it's cheaper and tastier than eating out.

  • Zzzzzz is for sleep

    It's free and sooo good for you. So take any opportunity you get for some shut-eye. Besides, if you want to be in the right frame of mind for budgeting, you'll really need 40 good winks to do it!

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