Raising children is an expensive business (LV’s 2013 Cost of Raising a Child Report estimates the total cost at an enormous £222,458). But there are ways to lower your costs without altering your little ones’ lifestyles.

Unstructured Play

Studies show that “unstructured play” (i.e. not framed by the rules of a board game, colouring book or video game) is good for a child’s development and creativity. Allow them to draw on regular blank office paper or in a notebook, or give them boxes and blankets to build a fort.

Sharing Care

Childcare is a huge cost for many parents. Those lucky enough to have family members to help with childcare should certainly consider that option. You could also use forums on websites such as mumsnet, or discuss with other friends with children, to see how feasible a childcare co-op would be (ie. Each parent takes a certain number of days to look after the children).

Free days out can be just as fun as expensive ones

Even if this does not turn out to be a viable solution for day care whilst you work, this could at least provide you with the opportunity to have a convenient and cheap babysitter.

Get What You Are Entitled To

Make sure you get all the tax credits and benefits you are entitled to, and speak with your HR department to see if your work runs any schemes such as provision of childcare vouchers.

Here at Harrington Brooks, we undertake a free benefit check for our customers alongside our partners IncomeMax, to make sure that they don’t miss out on a penny.

Make the Most of Free Days Out

There are tons of opportunities throughout the UK for cheap and free days out. Many museums and galleries are free, and it’s worth checking out their websites to see when they are running workshops and activities for children.

Farmers’ fairs and markets are also fun places for children to explore and see farmyard animals and do activities. Visit www.arminguk.com to see if there are any near you.

Protect Your Family

Life, income and critical illness insurance are essential to make sure that your family do not suffer any financial difficulties should your income be lost to the household. Planning for the future can give you peace of mind that whatever life throws at you, you can provide for your loved ones.

Don’t spend a penny more than you need to, though. Speak to a trained adviser to make sure you get the best deal for your family’s needs.

Get your kids involved in saving

Sell Your Unwanted Goods and Include Your Kids in Your Savings Techniques

Every parent will know how quickly children grow up and grow out of their toys and clothes. If you aren’t saving them as hand-me downs, sell your unwanted items on sites such as Ebay or Gumtree. You can make a portion of your money back, and de-clutter at the same time.

Shop Second Hand

Just as you’re selling your unwanted goods, you can also pick up good as new bargains online.

Buy Un-Branded

It can be tempting to buy branded clothes, toys and food, but the reality is that there is often little difference in quality. Tot up the savings you make, and if your children are old enough (or resisting the shift from branded goods) go through this with them. It will be a good lesson in personal finance, especially if you all decide what you’ll use the savings for – putting it towards a trip somewhere, or a takeaway once a fortnight, for example.

Buy in Bulk

It might sound counter-productive to buy more, but wholesale and bulk buy items are often much cheaper. Cooking twice as much and then freezing half will also save you plenty of time another day.