A survey of 1,500 British adults by the Scottish Widows think tank, Centre for the Modern Family, found that one in five families say they are unable to cope financially at the moment.
It also suggests that financial worries are the biggest challenge facing modern families, over and above health problems, matters of work/life balance and problems bringing up children.
So, here at thinkmoney, we've found a few helpful money-saving tips that families who are struggling, or who just want to watch their pennies, can take advantage of. And best of all, it costs nothing to read them!
- Shop around for financial products. Life insurance, for example, is a common financial product that plenty of parents will buy to protect their family. So, if you're looking for a new life insurance policy, make sure you shop around for the best deal before signing up. As part of your research, speak to an insurance specialist who could search a range of insurance providers for you. If you're responsible for children, getting life insurance can be a good way to safeguard their future, but you don't have to pay through the nose for it.
Make sure you are receiving all the benefits and/or Tax Credits that you are entitled to. The benefits system is changing at the moment, but don't rule yourself out. Even if you work, your child(ren) might still be entitled to more than you think - and you might be too.
Take a look at the thinkmoney article on benefits for more information on which benefits you could be entitled to.
- Some employers offer childcare vouchers. These are well worth looking into if you're a parent and you pay for childcare. These vouchers can be bought from your gross salary (before tax) and can save parents thousands of pounds in childcare. Also, find out if you're entitled to any help with childcare too. For example, all children between the ages of three and four are entitled to 15 hours of early-years education for free, for 38 weeks of the year.
- Hunt out free entertainment. You can entertain a family with a trip to the park, or a museum, or gallery - many of which are free. Over the summer months there are likely to be all kinds of free outdoor events happening in your area, so check the local press or ask your friends if they know of any. Schools often put on free events over the summer months too, like fetes or tournaments. Hunt out any kind of free event that gets your kids out of the house and away from the TV.
- Spend some time looking at your finances and work out a proper family budget. This can help people avoid overspending on things they don't need and hold money back for expensive things they might need in the future. thinkmoney offers the thinkmoney Personal Account - with a budgeting service that can help people manage their monthly finances and plan ahead for the future. All you need to apply is to be a UK-resident adult. There are no credit checks; only identity checks. The budgeting service costs just £14.50 per month for a single account (£21.25 for a joint account).
Use voucher sites, 2-for-1 deals and rewards wherever you can. Sometimes there are offers in the press, or coupons. If you're online you could sign up with one or more of the money-off / voucher sites. If you're a thinkmoney customer, you could get all kinds of rewards and cashback on all sorts of things - just log in to internet banking and click on 'Rewards'. If you shop regularly at the same places, look into a loyalty or reward scheme, which can let you redeem vouchers or get money off your shopping - and some supermarkets offer money off your petrol too.
Also, thinkmoney produces a fortnightly deals article, called Dan's Deals. We pick out some of the best money-saving deals to be found in supermarkets, restaurants and online, so keep coming back or checking our Facebook and Twitter pages for the latest articles.
When working out the family finances, it often helps if you have someone close you can talk to - a partner, a sibling or parent, or just a good friend. Getting someone else's objective opinion can help you to see your own finances from a fresh perspective, and work out what to do next if you are having problems.
We hope some of the ideas here have inspired you, but if you're having really serious problems with your finances, it's worth seeking the advice of a debt professional who could discuss your options with you in more detail.