RUNNING a large household is never smooth sailing at the best of times, but this mum-of-seven has managed to crack staying within budget.
Tess Giddings, from Bournemouth, manages to save up to a massive £2.5k a year with her savvy saving techniques.
Tess saves £2,400 a year through discount shopping, mealtime prep and planning, as well easy tips and tricks.
She’s mum to Jacob, 14, Savannah, 12, Amiah, 11, Zion, nine, Nevaeh, five, and twins Hezekiah, and Levi, three – who always keep her on her toes.
Her first tip is to slash that food shopping bill.
As a family-of-nine their food shopping bill takes up the biggest chunk out their weekly expenses, which comes to around £160 a week.
Tess reveals that some of her friends with smaller families can often spend more on their food shop in comparison to her big brood.
She keeps the meals cheap by making a meal plan for the week ahead and stocks up on special offers, such as two-for-ones or buy-one-get-one-free deals.
Then what remains from dinner prep is made into leftovers.
Tess told Jam Press: “Leftovers are often made into dinner or lunch for the next day too so I am not wasting food and money.”
This means that the family can easily save between £50 to £70 on a family day out where they take their own food and drinks.
She also credits where she buys as a great way to make sure she bags those savings, saying: “My favourite supermarkets include Aldi and Lidl but I also often do an online shop with Tesco or Asda, as you can scour the deals properly.
"When you go to Aldi shortly before closing there is also a lot of food marked down that can be frozen to keep for longer, such as meats.”
Tess is able to make her food last longer by making sure she freezes food for as long as she can.
THE GOLDEN DINNER RULE: EAT IT OR LEAVE IT
When it comes to the dinner table, Tess lives by a golden rule: If you don't like it, there's nothing else to eat.
She said: "If my children moan about their dinner or that they don’t like it, they don’t have to eat it but there will be no pudding – like ice lollies or yoghurt – afterwards.
“I will make nice, tasty meals – so if they’re just being fussy by not wanting it, then they go without.”
And the most important thing for Tess is – budget, budget, budget.
Although the mum and her husband both work – Tess is a digital content creator for social media and Chris is an engineer – and have monthly incomes, they like to save wherever possible to keep costs low.
Tess has always been good when it comes to managing money and rarely pays full price for anything.
Instead, the mum uses discount coupons and will source various items second-hand, such as furniture for her home.
She said: "People always comment about how well-furnished our home is and how lovely the furnishings are but I have got pretty much all of them off Gumtree for next to nothing."
She upcycles as many pieces of furniture as she can, which transform her house.
The mum also sets aside a set amount of money each month to cover Christmas and birthdays, and uses a sewing machine to tailor the kids' clothes when they outgrow them – giving them at least another year of wear.
But that isn't where Tess's tips stop.
In an effort to slash their spending on adventures, Tess and her husband have converted their garage into a soft play area with slides and toys for their twins, which they have thoroughly enjoyed during lockdown.
She said: "The kids also love when I make an obstacle course for them in the garden with random bits and pieces."
The mum recommends painting and crafting to keep the kids occupied too, as well as walks in nature.
GET A WAKE-UP AND BEDTIME ROUTINE IN PLACE
"Children thrive off a routine and it’s so important to stick to it," Tess told Jam Press.
"During the week, I am very strict with our routine, otherwise everything falls apart quickly – especially with so many children.
"I like to prep everything the night before; so school uniform, lunch boxes etc are all laid out for the kids to just get ready quickly in the morning.
“The younger ones are normally in bed by 8pm, the middle ones by 8.30pm and the older ones by 9.30pm.”
"They’re usually pretty good though – but if they really play up, there are consequences like they’ll lose their device the next day or miss out on a treat.
“But that’s only if they are really naughty and after three warnings. I’m strict but I’m not militant and unfair.”
Tess also notes that when it comes to a large family, preparation is key – especially when it comes to days out.
She said: "If I’m not organised and prepped the day before, it often takes us hours to just leave the house."
OFFER INCENTIVES FOR CLEANING
Running a busy household inevitably means there's lots of cleaning to do – but Tess manages to stay on top of it and makes sure to get the kids involved too, with the help of a little incentive.
She said: "I am quite house-proud, so I love to have a clean and tidy home, but obviously with seven children it doesn't stay that way for long.
"I would never put too much responsibility on them as at the end of the day, they are children – but it's a great way for them to earn pocket money each week and it's a good life lesson.
"The older ones can do things like clean the bathroom while the middle younger ones really enjoy things like hoovering – and all the kids earn pocket money from it.
“Before we leave for a day out, they all get a task – like making sure their rooms are tidy – and they’re really good at getting it done as they know we won’t leave until it is.”
Tess stressed the importance of finding time for yourself too.
As an example, her husband will look after the kids while Tess enjoys a long walk on the beach solo.
She said: "I am really blessed that I have such a great husband who always encourages me to take time out for myself.
"Things are always so hectic at home that I don’t always have time to gather my thoughts."
“It is so important for us as mums to have that time to ourselves, whether it’s getting our hair or nails done or just going for that peaceful walk alone, it truly is important.”
Tess also has an annual week 'off' – when she goes for a holiday with her friends while her husband takes care of the kids.
She added: "Life is so non-stop, which I am not moaning about because I genuinely do love my big family and all that comes with it work-wise."
Tess believes that you shouldn't have to stretch yourself thin to be in control of your household.
Check out Money Saving Mum's top tips to look a million dollars on a budget.
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