116 money-saving tips for mums

We've come up with 116 clever things that will make a big difference to a busy mum's money!

Money saving tips for mums: Start a babysitting circle
(Image credit: Rex)

We've come up with 116 clever things that will make a big difference to a busy mum's money!

Do you throw out food if it's gone past its 'best before' date? This should only be used as a guide, so check the quality of the food before you chuck it. However, don't eat food that has gone past its 'use by' date.

Check out approvedfood.co.uk (opens in new tab) - a website that sells clearance dried food like biscuits, crisps and pasta that's past its best before date (but not past its 'use by') at massive reductions.

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Start a babysitting circle

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Cut down the cost of babysitting by starting a babysitting circle. Basically each group of friends is called a 'circle'. Everyone in the group is given a token - you can exchange a token for a night of babysitting - so the more you babysit for other people, the more they'll babysit for you - and you'll save up to £20 per night out!

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Buy own brand

Money saving tips for mums: Buy own brand items

Most supermarkets will produce their own brand of food products, usually much cheaper than the more popular brands on sale. More often than not - though not always - you'll be hard pressed to notice any difference between the brands. If you switch all your products to own-brand, you could save more than a tenner a week.

Not sure which own brand products to try? We asked goodtoknow users to tell us the value products they love.

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Check your benefits

Money saving tips for mums: Check your benefits

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Are you getting everything you're entitled to? Check goodtoknow's guide to family benefits to find out.

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Label school uniforms

Money saving tips for mums: Label school clothes

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If you label the kids' uniforms they're less likely to get lost, or mistakenly picked up by someone else. You don't need to buy fancy name labels that need sewing or ironing in - a permanent marker will do the trick!

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Find a free swimming pool

Money saving tips for mums: Find a free swimming pool

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Hundreds of local councils are taking part in this government scheme which allows under 16s and over 60s to swim for free. Check the government's culture website to see which pools near you are taking part.

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Make your own playdough

Money saving tips for mums: Make your own playdough

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Use this recipe to make your own playdough:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tbsp cream of tartar (which you can get in the baking aisle at the supermarket)
  • ½ cup salt
  • 1 to 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 cup water
  • food colouring

- Mix flour, cream of tartar and salt in a saucepan.

- Add the water and oil and cook over medium heat until thick.

- At this stage you can either add a few drops of food colouring to the mixture and kneed in. If you want two colours, split the mixture and add different colours to each half.

- Now it's over to the kids!

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Buy seasonal products

Money saving tips for mums: Buy seasonal fruit

Buying seasonal food is cheaper - not to mention tastier. Out-of-season food means it has to be shipped in from abroad, so it's more expensive. Staying in-season will ensure your food shopping remains cheaper all year round.

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Get kids to sell their old games

Money saving tips for mums: Get kids to sell their games

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Mum Karen says: 'Get your kids to sell their old games for Playstations and other video consoles - then they can put the money towards new games!'

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Where to next?

- Our discount vouchers

- More money-saving tips

- For more like this, sign up to our free family newsletter.

Make banana bread

Money saving tips for mums: Banana bread

If you have some leftover bananas, or even a few that haven't been eaten and are about to expire, why not have a go at making your own banana bread? It's cheap and easy to make, with many of the ingredients in your kitchen cupboard already. It makes a great lunchbox treat or afternoon snack.

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Go to National Childbirth Trust sales

Money saving tips for mums: Go to NCT sales

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Mum Vicky says: 'Attend National Childbirth Trust (NCT) nearly new sales in your local area for bargains. Make sure you get there 30 minutes to an hour before doors open because they are insanely popular.' Find out where sales are on (opens in new tab) near you.

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Look around

Money saving tips for mums: Shop around

When shopping, make sure to look around. Supermarkets often display the highest priced brands at eye level, as this where you're most likely to look and buy from.

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Shop at the local market

Money-saving tips for mums: Shop at the local market

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Buying your fruit and veg at your local market rather than the supermarket is almost always cheaper. For example, you'll find packs of strawberries, satsumas and other fruits for around £1 - these would usually cost £2-£3 in the supermarket. Not only that, but the food will be fresher and easier to select. But just buy what you need for the next few days so none of it will go off and need throwing away.

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Buy in bulk and freeze

Money saving tips for mums: Buy in bulk and freeze

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When doing your weekly food shop, buy bigger packs of fresh food (such as meat) and freeze what you don't need. Bigger packs give you more value for money.

Julie on facebook told us: 'I freeze anything that you possibly can, including yoghurts.'

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Don't go food shopping when you're hungry

Money saving tips for mums: Don't do a hungry shop

The classic mistake of the weekly food shopper is to hit the aisles on an empty stomach. Everything will look more appealing and worth buying if you're hungry - and instead of buying sensible food, you might find you come home with extra food and treats that you don't need. It's always better, and more cost-effective, to eat before you shop.

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Dry your clothes on the line

Money saving tips for mums: Dry your clothes on the line

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Tumble dryers use up loads of energy - and loads of money, too. When the weather is nice put your clothes on the line instead - and if you really want to save, you can buy racks to dry your clothes on inside the house as well. Just putting your clothes on the line during warmer months will save you £15.

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Save energy while cooking

Money saving tips for mums: Save energy while cooking

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If you're cooking on a gas hob, pick a saucepan that's the same size as the cooker ring to stop heat from being lost. Using a lid on your saucepan will also help to save energy as whatever's in your saucepan will heat up faster.

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Swap your online shopping

Money saving tips for mums: Swap your online shopping

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It's worth changing who you shop with from time to time, especially if you shop online.

Mum Vicky says: 'Swap online shopping between Ocado, Asda and Tesco. Ocado and Asda send £10 to £35 vouchers every few months if you haven't shopped with them for a while.'

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Swap toys with other families

Money saving tips: Swap toys with other families

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Do a toy-swap with your friends so your kids can get some exciting new toys without shelling out a small fortune. The same can be said for video games when they're a bit older.

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Use our cashback site

Money saving tips for mums: Use cashback sites

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When you're buying things online, try using our cashback partner, Quidco (opens in new tab) - you'll earn money back while you shop and get great discount vouchers too. Jenni told us on facebook: 'If you're buying on the internet, always use cashback sites. Often they have discount codes plus a good % cashback.'

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Put on your wellies and go for a rain walk

Money-saving tips for mums: Go for a rain walk

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When it's raining outside and the kids are bored, don't be tempted to give in and take them out to the cinema or to a restaurant, instead wrap up warm, put on your wellies and go for a rain walk!

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Go on good value days out

Money saving tips for mums: Buy membership to your local wildlife trust

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Check websites like GoSeeDo.com (opens in new tab) for deals before forking out loads of cash for days out.

It's also worth buying a membership to your local wildlife trust for days out. Mum Vicky says: 'It's cheaper than occasional trips to big country parks, national trust properties and zoos, and it's much quieter.'

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Have leftovers

Money saving tips for mums: leftovers

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So much food is wasted in the UK every week, even when there's nothing wrong with it. One way to save money is to use your weekly leftovers, one night a week, to make a meal for all the family. There are lots of options available, including risotto, stir-fry and the always-easy omelette. This will probably save you around £6 a week. See all our ideas for leftovers.

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Sell unwanted stuff on eBay

Money saving tips for mums: Sell on ebay

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Make money and de-clutter your house at the same time by selling unwanted goods on eBay. You can buy and sell all kinds of things on here, from clothes to sofas. It's especially good for picking up and selling things like old Brownie uniforms and sports kits which are expensive and kids grow out of quickly.

See goodtoknow's mum's guide to buying on eBay

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Make more and freeze it

Money saving tips for mums: Make more and freeze it

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If you're going to buy in bulk then why not cook in bulk? Making more when cooking means you can freeze anything you don't eat and use for other meals throughout the week.

Julie told us on facebook: 'I always cook too much pasta with bolognese, so I make a pasta salad and chill it. You can also put leftover chicken in pitta bread or tortilla wraps with mayo for a light lunch or lunch boxes.'

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Shop at outlet stores

Money saving tips for mum: Shop at outlet stores

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Visit stores like Matalan when you need cheap, good quality clothes. They're good for bulk buying too. Or if you're after something special, you could visit an outlet village like Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth which has a range of designer shops, all full of discounted goods.

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Close your curtains to keep the heat in

Money saving tips for mums: Close your curtains to keep the heat in

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During the winter months when it's cold, closing your curtains will help to keep your house warm, meaning you won't need to turn the heating up so much. If your front or back door lets in a draft, consider putting up a curtain behind it to keep the cold air out too!

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Get kids involved at the supermarket

Money saving tips: Give kids a job at the supermarket

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Give kids a job at the supermarket, like looking after the shopping list or getting some of the items you need, so they don't get bored and start pestering you for treats!

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Buy second-hand games

Money-saving tips for mums

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Sue told us on Facebook: 'I buy second-hand games for the kids, for the Wii, DS and Xbox. Up to about 9 years old they don't notice that they aren't new. After 9 they figure out that you can get 2 for the price of 1 new.'

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Get free beauty treats for kids

Money-saving tips for mums

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Linda told us on Facebook: 'When you're at the counter buying your own usual full size branded perfumes and smellies, ask the assistant for little samples of any perfume or make-up they have that week. The staff are always happy to oblige. The samples usually come in their own branded little packets - just save them up all year long to make a little gift hamper for girls!'

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Do some baking

Money-saving tips for mums

Kirsty told us on Facebook: Me and my 2 little boys bake things for when

friends and family are getting together. They enjoy the time spent

making things with mummy and they get to give something they've made

themselves. I hope I'm giving them great memories too.'

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Shop in the January sales

Money-saving tips for mums

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Emma told us on Facebook: 'Start buying stuff in the January sales ready for next Christmas. Everything you need will be a third of the price. If you also buy in the sales throughout the year you'll save mega bucks and have a lot less to pay when next Christmas comes.'

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Buy reduced food

Money saving tips for mums: Buy reduced food

Supermarkets always have food reduced due to a looming expiry date, usually with the food due to expire that day. Keep an eye out for food marked for reduction, check the expiry date and, if the date is for that day, you can cook it as soon as you get home.

Jane shared this tip on Facebook: 'Always go to the reduced meats, fruits and veg. The meat you can freeze, the fruits you can make smoothies from and the veggies make a lovely veggie dinner for a change.'

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Turn off your TV

Money-saving tips for mums: Turn off your TV

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Save money and energy by turning off your TV when it's not in use. A TV that is left on standby uses 90% of the same energy as a switched on TV - so turning it off standby really does make a difference.

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Use our supermarket savers

Money-saving tips for mums: Use our supermarket savers

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Every week, we search the supermarkets to see who's doing the best BOGOF offers and price reductions. And we'll let you know the top offers in our supermarket savers.

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Keep food refrigerated

Money-saving tips for mums: Keep food refrigerated

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Another way to avoid waste and save money is to keep perishable food, such as fruit, refrigerated. Keeping foods such as apples, bananas and oranges fresh will stop them from rotting and going to waste, which stops you from having to spend money replacing them. You'll probably save a few pounds every week if you're committed to this - and every little helps!

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Turn the lights off

Money-saving tips for mums: Turn the lights off

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Make a habit of turning the lights off when you leave the room - and switch to energy-saving light bulbs too. It's said that compact fluorescent bulbs use two-thirds less energy than standard incandescent light bulbs, and last up to 10 times longer. Using a 13-watt compact fluorescent in place of a 60-watt incandescent could mean a saving of £15 in energy costs over the life of the bulb.Got a great money-saving tip? Share it with us on Facebook (opens in new tab)

Make packed lunches

Money-saving tips for mums: Packed lunches

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Why not take a packed lunch rather than buying a meal at work? If you're buying lunch every day, you could save around £15 per week. And, as long as you're clever about it, packed lunches can work out cheaper than school dinners for kids, too. See our simple lunch ideas.

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Put your savings in an ISA

Money-saving tips for mums: Put your savings in an ISA

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You can now put up to £5,100 per year into an ISA which is like a savings account, the only difference is that the interest you earn on your savings is tax free - so make the most of your savings by getting one! Cheltenham & Gloucester's cash ISA currently pays 2.7% interest on your savings including a 1.7% bonus for 12 months, and you can open an account with £1 only.

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Money saving tips for mums

Money saving tips for mums: Get dvds and books from the library

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Did you know that you can borrow CDs and DVDs from most libraries? You'll usually have to pay a small fee for them (books are still free though), but you'll save £2-£3 per time in comparison to renting them from a DVD rental shop, and up to £10 in comparison to buying! Lots of libraries let you borrow them for up to a week - check with your local council to see which libraries in your area have DVDs and CDs.

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Get your hair cut at a college

Money saving tips for mums: Get your haircut at a college

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It's not as scary as it sounds! Hairdressing colleges will offer haircuts really cheaply - often for under £10 - you just need to go during the day, and be prepared to spend some time there. The student cutting your hair will be watched carefully by a supervisor, so don't panic - you won't come out with an awful cut!

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Join the goodtoknow diet club

Money-saving tips for mums

If you want to lose a bit of weight, you don't need to join an expensive gym or weight-loss group. Here at goodtoknow we have our own diet club to help you achieve your goal weight. You'll receive a personalised calorie allowance, an online food and exercise diary, healthy recipe ideas, support from experts and other dieters - and loads more. PLUS if you sign up now for 3 months, you'll a 15% discount AND a free goodybag (while stocks last).

Sign up for a free 5-day trial (opens in new tab)

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Dilute fruit juice

Money saving tips for mums: Dilute fruit juice

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Diluting fruit juices with water makes them last longer, while also reducing the amount of calories each time you have a drink of it. So you're not only saving money, you're also keeping the calories down - it's win-win!

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Pay off your credit card

Money saving tips for mums: Pay off your credit card

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If you have to use a credit card, don't spend more than you can afford to pay off each month - otherwise you'll end up paying heaps in charges. Make sure you're always getting the best deals on your credit card too - often they offer a great deal at first and then they drop it, so don't be afraid to switch cards every few months to take advantage of these introductory offers.

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Use your loyalty cards wisely

Money saving tips for mums: Use your loyalty cards wisely

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Make good use of your Nectar card and Tesco Clubcard - you can often get great offers using these on days out. So instead of taking along your vouchers to the supermarket with you, check out where else you can use them, they're often worth much more elsewhere. Check out our advice on how to make the most of your loyalty cards here.

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Have a shower instead of a bath

Money saving tips for mums: Take a shower rather than a bath

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You use loads more water in a bath - so it takes up more energy (and money) to heat the water. If you really want a bath, you can still save a bit of money by not filling it up as much as usual.

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Insulate your house

Money saving tips for mums: Insulate your house

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If your house isn't properly insulated, you're probably spending a small fortune on heating in the winter - so getting insulated is a good investment. You might be able to get some money towards it - see if you're entitled to an insulation grant (opens in new tab).

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Shop around for petrol

Money saving tips for mums: Get cheaper petrol

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Sign up to petrolprices.com (opens in new tab) to find the cheapest petrol or diesel near you. You enter your postcode and it'll search your area to find which prices are being offered at your local garages. However, make sure you're not driving much further to get cheaper petrol as you'll waste money on the drive there.

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Only use supermarket deals that are good value

Supermarket deals and offers

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We love supermarket deals, but remember they're only worth while if they're on something you'd usually buy or if it's a really great offer.

Consumer group Which? recently round that supermarkets often exaggerate offers to encourage you to buy, by putting the prices of products up just a few days before dropping them to 'half price'. So make sure you're getting a good deal before you reach for that offer!

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Money saving tips for mums: Store offer

Money saving tips for mums: Stock up on shop offers

When shopping, if you see something you buy regularly on offer, why not stock up on it by buying a few? Just because something is two-for-one this month, doesn't mean it will be next month, so buy a few for the months ahead. You'll save so much more money in the long run and you'll have plenty of supplies for the future.

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Money saving tips for mums: Budget

Money saving tips for mums: Budget

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Sit down with your other half and a calculator. Work out how much money you have coming in and going out each month - then work out what you have left to spend on food, entertainment, clothes, treats for the kids etc. Sticking to your budget will make a big difference to your finances. If you struggle to keep track of your spending, consider setting up a new bank account that you can transfer your spending money to each month so you know exactly how much you have.

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Shopping lists

Money saving tips for mums: Shopping lists

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Making a shopping list before you visit the supermarket will always prove cheaper than not making one - just make sure you stick to it! It'll stop you from purchasing unnecessary treats and making impulse buys.

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Share delivery costs for an online shop

Money saving tips for mums

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Do your shopping online with a friend who lives nearby and split the delivery costs with them. Some supermarkets will charge you up to £8 for certain slots, so it's definitely worth the extra effort for the saving - especially when you consider that you'll be saving £104 per year!

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Hold a swish sale

Money saving tips for mums: Make your own money

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If you don't want the fuss or have the time to sell kids' clothes on eBay they've grown out of, hold a swish sale at your school or for your friends? Put out tables as 'stalls' and put on them anything your child no longer needs - get other mums to do the same and help yourself to clothes that fit your child or new toys they'll enjoy, for free!

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