Saving Money on School Uniform – Back to School Costs

Back to School, can be such a costly time of year.. and it just seems to creep up on us parents every year… even though we know it is coming! I suppose the end of the school year is such a busy time, and the start of the new school year seems so far away…

Back To School

By far the best way of getting ahead, and reducing the stress of back to school costs is to start a sinking fund… saving little and often towards these costs. I started my back to school sinking fund in January, and have been saving monthly towards these costs.

I am going to be sharing different ways that you can also reduce the cost of school uniforms for your little one, and hopefully you can use some of these tips to help you save a little of the expense that uniforms can be, which is especially important with the cost of living rising.

School Uniform costs

Check your local grocery shops, for school uniform. They often sell great quality uniform at a fraction of the price that the same uniform would be from the school uniform shop. Check your uniform list, see what uniform must be from the school uniform shop, and buy the uniform elsewhere! I have often found the uniforms from the grocery stores to actually be better quality too. They are often anti-wrinkle technology, anti-stain, adjustable waist and also hems that you can lengthen! I would especially keep an eye out in grocery shops in July, as they often have sales on their uniforms at this time of year, however you’ll have to be quick! They often sell out of popular sizes quickly. Double check also if you need the stores app, in order to able to avail of the sale.

Crested uniform can be so expensive, and unfortunately if your school has a crested uniform, it is usually compulsory on the uniform list. However there are still some savings to be made with crested uniforms. First I would really recommend asking friends and family that may have older kids in the same school, if they have uniform that they no longer need. Another option is to see if the school has a second hand sale, check with uniform sale/swap groups on Facebook. Sometimes you can find second hand uniforms for sale on online marketplaces, or even check out your local charity shops!

Uniform savings

Another way you can save money on school uniforms, is inquire with the uniform shop or school, to see if you can purchase the crest itself. You can then either sew it on or sometimes you can even iron on a crest. This means that you can purchase your uniform for a much more affordable price, from the grocery store and then add the crest. Something to note, is that some uniform shops will only provide the crest, if you get them to sew on the crest.

Irish Budgeting

Its also important to factor in how much your little one, or perhaps not so little one, will grow. I have found it so hard to source uniform a little further into the school year, and also this will save you money. This is where an adjustable uniform will really help. Can you adjust the waist, lengthen the legs? Make sure you get enough too.. I have a boy in this house that loves playing all the sports, and this can mean a few holes in the knees! So an extra pair or two trousers has been vital.

Do you make room for you, in your budget?

Budgeting may mean saying no to some things, as its not in the budget right now… You may have to prioritising some needs over others, some wants over others.. this is all part of creating a budget.

My Hand

While creating a budget, you should prioritise your 4 walls first.

Your 4 walls are; Your housing, your utilities, your food and your transport.

Next you should look at other bills and direct debits, make sure you have allocated enough money for these.

After these categories you have your variables, the costs that can go up and down. You will decide what goes in these categories by deciding what your priorities and due dates are.

Some of these may be Sinking Funds, some may be household expenses, but either way there should be categories that are for both you and your family to use without feeling guilty.

Bowling

You need to make room in your budget for you!

In our budget I try to save about €20 a week for me to spend on whatever I want. Some weeks I spend it all, something may catch my eye or I might meet a friend for coffee. Other times I might save it up and spend it on a bigger item. Today I got my nails done, €25 well spent!

We also make room in our budget for my daughter to do horse riding lessons, my son to do GAA and support his love of software development (which can get very expensive!). We also give them pocket money, and enjoy saving for days out in the summer. My husband also uses revolut vaults, and puts personal money in one for him.

Horse

By allocating money to yourself, and also to family members, you are giving yourself a little freedom, freedom to treat yourself without it affecting your budget.

I am never going to tell you to not buy yourself a coffee, to say no to drinks with friends or to bring back the dress you love.. That’s the beauty of budgeting! You have budgeted a certain amount for you, and how you spend it is totally up to you and what is important to you!

Now myself and my family have done a no spend year. At that time, our priority was to save every extra bit of money that we could get our hands on, so that we could get the keys for our home. That was our families priority at the time, but we knew there was a time limit, as a no spend period is not sustainable long term.

Long term I believe allocating some money to spend as you wish, for everyone in your family, is going to help you and your family stick to that budget.

Think of it this way, are you better allowing yourself some personal money while keeping to your budget long term, or depriving yourself and then finding it all too restrictive.

Do you allow room in your budget for you?

50 Side Hustle Ideas to add extra income to your Budget!

What is a side hustle?

A side hustle is a way of bringing income into your household budget, aside from your normal income. Other names include nixers, extra income, moonlighting, and side projects.

Some side hustles are quick and easy to do, and some require a skill, qualification or a talent. I’ve tried to add a good mixture to my list.

Considerations when getting side hustle income.

Yes all side hustle income is taxable, unless it is paid in the form of a voucher. This income must be declared with revenue.

In Ireland, if you earn under €5,000 in the year you can declare this income on your income tax return. This is very easy to do using myAccount.

If you earn more than €5,000… first of all WELL DONE you!! Again yes, you must declare this income. You will need to register for self-assesment. Once registered it is easy enough to file a tax return form with ROS. Checkout this link for more info.

As this income is taxable, its very important to track it, and keep a record of what you have coming in.

Which Side Hustle is for you?

Well first off, you need to look at how much time you have spare… do you have weekends free, evenings, or even one evening? This will help you decide for sure what side hustles are definitely not for you.

Another thing to consider is what are your passions? If you are passionate about something, you are more likely to for one enjoy doing it, but also you are more likely to strive for it to succeed.

You should also consider any skills or qualifications that you have. For instance, teaching grinds if you are a teacher, which can be very flexible.

Lastly I think its important to think about how much it is going to cost you to start doing this side hustle… some side hustles will be free to start, and some may require an investment, which is something to think about.

Types of Side Hustle Income

Earned Income: Where you have put time and effort in to earn the income in return. This is the easiest time of income. Examples include a part-time job, freelance work, or doing a craft.

Passive Income: More complicated to set up in the beginning, takes time effort and maybe money. However once it is set up, the money should come in without any time and effort on your part. This income may be slow, but as is requires little effort, that is ok, it will accumulate over time. Examples include rental properties, investments, and affiliate sales.

Capital Gains Income: Where you buy something and in return for doing something to it, or even holding on to it for a while, you can sell it and get a profit. This is capital gains income. Examples include buying and selling furniture or buying and selling stocks.

I hope these ideas are helpful to you! If you do Side Hustles to increase your household income, let me know what you do below!

Budget Home Baked Bread! – Only 49 cent a loaf

My sister Jen sent me this recipe and it has been such a hit in my house! A loaf never lasts past breakfast anytime I bake one. I find myself baking at least two loaves at a time, just to get the change to have a slice myself!

There are only 3 ingredients plus some warm water, which makes this a simple and also frugal bake.

You can use strong white bread flour or plain/all purpose flour, which means you will probably always have the ingredients for this bread in your cupboard. The only other ingredients are Yeast – I used fast acting, salt, and as I said warm water.

I have linked a video above, where you can watch me making the bread, and I show the folding technique. That is the only thing that I really think is important to watch as it would be difficult to explain in words.. but it really is a very simple bread to make!

Budget Bread
Folding Technique

Recipe

  • 3 Cups of Strong white flour OR Plain Flour (all purpose)
  • 2 Packets of Fast action Yeast
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1.5-2 cups luke warm water (too hot and it will burn the yeast)

Method

  • Into a large mixing bowl place your flour, yeast and salt. Give it a good mix with a spatula.
  • Add 1 cup of the luke warm water to the dry mixture, and mix together with the handle of the spatula. Then add a little at a time of the remaining cup of water until you notice the mixture coming together as a dough. It should still look a little stringy, and should be sticky to touch.
  • Now cover the bowl with some clingfilm, or even a tea towel. Then place the bowl in a warm place for 1 hour. I am lucky enough to have a warming feature in my oven where it stays at 40 degrees Celsius, but if you have a hotpress that will work great too!
  • After 1 hour, you are ready to shape your bread! First sprinkle a generous dusting of flour on your counter. Then take the bread out of the bowl and let onto the floured counter.
  • You are going to start folding the bread, if you need to see how, see the above video.. but you essentially fold one end in, and then the opposite, then fold the side in and then the opposite, and keep going about 10-12 more times. It should start to feel less sticky, and more bread dough-like. It should also start forming into a loaf shape.
  • Next you are going to flip it over, and start shaping and tucking the dough so that it forms the classic round loaf shape, and becomes firmer.
  • Next place the rounded dough into a bowl lined with grease-proof parchment paper, and leave to rise for 15 minutes.
  • While that is rising, place the container that you will bake the bread in, in the oven at 235 degrees Celsius. This is to heat up the container so that it reaches temperature before you put the bread in it. Ideally you would use a dutch oven, however I use a casserole tin every time and it works great!
  • After 15 mins, sprinkle some flour on top of the loaf and score the top. You can use a scoring blade if you have one, but if not a sharp knife also works great.
  • Then take the container out of the oven ready for your bread, open the lid, and lift the bread in by the parchment paper. Pop the lid back on and place in the oven for 30 minutes.
  • After 30 mins, take out of the oven. You are just going to take off the lid and slide out the parchment paper, and pop back into the oven for about 10 more minutes, or until golden. This will held your bread to become crusty.
  • Once golden brown, take out of the oven and tap the bread underneath to make sure there is a hollow sound. Leave to cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour, and enjoy!!

Delicious!!!
Delicious!!!

If you try this recipe let me know below, and I really enjoy any pictures of your bakes, so please do tag me on instagram if you make it!

Feeding 5 People for €5

With food prices soaring, inflation hitting our food budgets, back in March I started thinking about how I could help families like mine…

Chilli Con Carne

That’s when I decided to do a meal that only cost €5 to feed all 5 of us!

I set some rules for myself… Obviously I wanted to stick to a €5 budget (where possible)! I wanted to make the meals somewhat balanced, with a focus on fresh ingredients. I wanted also to change the shops where i purchased the ingredients, as i was aware not everyone has the choice of where they can do their food shop. I wanted to include meals that would suit different diets, so that if you were vegetarian, celiac or even just very picky, there would be a meal for you.

Pesto Chicken

I do not include cupboard staples, things you probably already have at home. It is just the main ingredients that i include in the costing of the €5 meal. However many of these ingredients can be used for additional meals, and also there are usually also leftovers!

So my first meal was a chilli with ingredients from Aldi. It included minced beef for €2.69, Basmati rice for €0.99, carrot & parsnip tray for €0.49, passata for €0.49, and baked beans for €0.25. The ingredients cost a total of €4.91.

I posted the full meal on my Instagram, in the form of a reel, and it was very well received. At the time of this post, there are 100k views on this particular reel. I have continued with these reels since, and post a new feeding 5 people for €5 meal every week since.

Spaghetti Carbonara

So far my meals have consisted of the above chilli, fish and chips, a sausage casserole, chicken and pesto with baby potatoes, a chickpea curry, spaghetti carbonara, butternut squash risotto, roast chicken, spaghetti bolognaise, and spaghetti aglio e olio.

I will post some of the recipes in future posts, but what i would love to know, is what is your favorite type of food? Do you like Italian, Indian or Asian? Do you like good home cooked foods, or are you a meal in 15 mins kinda person?

Sinking Funds – What are they?

Irish Budgeting – YouTube

Ok … hold up… what are these sinking funds I hear you talking about? Rainy day funds, stash, reserves, kitty, dips… there are so many other names for sinking funds.. but they are essentially money put aside for big expenses that are coming.

The idea is that you save little and often, over time, in order to accumulate enough money for a large expense. The due date is usually known, and also the total amount needed is also usually known and certainly the goal! Examples include Christmas, Birthdays, Back to school and Insurances.

Why use Sinking Funds?

Less stressed about trying to save a large amount. Less likely to panic about the sudden onset of a large expense. Less likely to increase your debt, which could cause more stress down the line, as it slows down your progress. Less likely to dip into your emergency fund and savings.

Sinking funds give you an amazing peace of mind!

Imagine this Christmas, being able to afford to buy your loved ones presents, without any stress or worry. Being able to enjoy this season, without the stress and financial worries in January. The first year we saved ahead for Christmas, I couldn’t believe the peace of mind it gave me.

Ok! I like it, how do I start using Sinking Funds?

So first you need to plan ahead. What large expenses do you having coming up? What expenses to you struggle to cash flow, year on year? I have sinking funds towards braces for my daughter, back to school, birthdays, Christmas, car maintenance and holidays.

Then with your chosen sinking funds, you need to decide when it is due and how much you need to save. This will help you prioritise your categories.

For example: Christmas, target amount €1,000, Due 1st December.

Next you need to decide how you are going to tackle this sinking funds. There are two main ways people save towards sinking funds. You can take that target amount for each sinking fund and divide it by the number of weeks till it is due. The second way is the way that I tackle sinking funds, and that is to tackle by priority, or due date. So I am concentrating on Back to school currently, as that will be due very soon, once I have paid that fund I will move onto funds like Christmas. It is up to you which method you choose to use, I have used both, and both work really well.

Where should you save your Sinking Funds?

You can save into envelopes using cash. I like this method, its easy to see and its tangible. Its good for people that are visual and like to see what their sinking funds are and exactly what they are saving towards.

The second option is to save into digital envelopes. Currently in Ireland, there is a company called Revolut that has a facility called saving vaults. There are other companies, especially in other countries that have similar facilities. These are separate “digital envelopes” to save money in, and you can name each one the name of your sinking fund.

The third option is an account that consolidates your money. So your sinking funds are all lumped together in the same account. This I feel is not the most straight forward option, as it involves a bit of paperwork on your behalf, to know what you are putting towards each category.

I personally use a mixture of the first two options. I like to save cash into each sinking fund in my sinking fund binder.. however once the category gets to a certain amount I transfer it to my Revolut account and place it into its relevant vault. This is great for safety reasons and it also means that I can buy items online, or transfer money if I need to.

I hope this helps you to understand sinking funds, and what a useful tool they can be!

Do you use Sinking Funds? Let me know down below!

Welcome to Irish Budgeting!

WELCOME!

After following the Irish and indeed worldwide debt free community for many years, since about 2017, I decided December 2021 it was time for me to set up my own page. 

I wanted to publicly share our own journey towards freedom from debt, and also share all the money saving tips, side hustle ideas and budgeting know how that i had picked up along our own journey!

I have seen some amazing things come from taking control of my money. Some of our wins include our wedding only costing €7,000, reducing our food budget down to just €100 a week for our family of 5, buying our family car with cash, cash flowing holidays and even saving €15,000 in one year which helped us buy or own house!

I’m on a mission to simplify budgeting, help people to take control themselves and change the Irish financial scene. A few small changes could change things for you and your family’s future. Once you get started it only takes 10-15 minutes a week! 

I Post daily on Instagram, and at least twice a week on YouTube and now I am going to post here hopefully at least twice weekly.

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