A MUM-of-11 has revealed her savvy tips on how to “parent on a budget” and keep the kids entertained without splashing the cash.
Joanne and Tommy O’Rourke are facing a squeeze on their finances as the cost of living crisis continues – but have come up with some ingenious ways to make their money go further.
The couple and their 11 kids – aged between two and 19 – are squeezed into a rented four-bedroom house in North London.
They have seen their energy bills double to nearly £3,200 a year andthey now fork out a huge £760 each month on food – which includes 15 loaves of bread, 42 pints of milk and a kilo of pasta.
Both parents work but they fear the coming winter.
Joanne, 39, said: “We’re putting what we can away.”
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Tommy, a forklift driver, 41, added: “Families need more support.”
He and therapist Joanne are the parents of Mitchell, 19, Lauren, 17, Joe, 15, son Ryley, 13, Tommy, 12, Regan, 12, Ashlee-Dean, 10, Freddie, eight, Danny, six, Neave, four, and two-year-old Brodie together.
The family are now trying to stretch their £2,000 monthly income and cut backs have been made.
The TV and lights are only on at night and Joanne has cut down from four to three full washing loads a day.
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They have a strict meal plan and days out are now treats like camping in the garden.
The couple have shared their “parenting on a budget” tips with their 50,000 social media followers.
Joanne kept the little ones busy all afternoon for just £2 by buying biscuits and icing sugar to decorate them.
For their son Tommy’s 12th birthday they recreated his favourite Harvester restaurant at home, complete with a “salad bar”.
It cost them less than £50 -much lower than the £150 they would have spent on a meal out.
When it was Ashlee-Dean’s 10th birthday they bought 66p pizza bases for him and his friends to add their own toppings, which cost a fraction of what Pizza Hut pizzas would have cost.
To avoid a huge financial hit at Christmas, the couple pick up cut-price gifts all year round.
The festive dinner is paid for by saving up loose change.
Joanne said: “I know we are in a more fortunate position than some so we want to do what we can to help other families keep ticking over.
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“We get a lot of people messaging asking for advice, meals we can share.
"People message us to say thank you. It’s nice to share and help others.”
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