WITH rising food bills, energy rates, and mortgage payments, there’s no doubt that people all across the country are feeling the crunch.   

Saving money can be difficult, and families can find conversations around cutting back particularly challenging. 

But if this is all sounds all to familiar to you, don’t worry, as in a bid to help fellow parents, Little-Loans.com has partnered with Instagram mum Emma Stretton, who has shared her tried and tested tips on how to budget for everyday costs in the home. 

Emma stressed the importance of timers on the TV and revealed that Costco memberships are key, so you’ll want to pay attention if you’re struggling to save. 

Emma said: “There’s a lot of things we do daily, weekly, monthly, and even yearly that have become second nature now. 

“The trick to cutting back or saving money is to make it a habit, rather than see it as a chore. 

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“Make small changes that add up, rather than drastic ones that aren’t sustainable.”  

The money-saving mum explained the importance of having a daily budget, as she noted: “The most important thing I do is check our budget daily. 

“I have a very simple spreadsheet with the formulas set up to automatically adjust any values. 

“Each day, I will check the bank balance and update the spreadsheet with the current total and any bills that have come out of the account. 

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“Everything goes on the budget, from household bills to childcare costs, food, petrol, as well as a weekly leisure allowance. 

“If we’ve gone over one week, the following week is adjusted. 

“Making this a daily habit keeps you accountable and shows you clearly where your money is going.” 

Here are Emma's top nine tips that have helped her to save on food costs, bills, and essential purchases. 


When it comes to food, Emma shared the ways she has tried to reduce her weekly food shop.

Packed lunches vs school meals 

Emma explained: “My youngest son gets free school meals. I know there are parents who make a packed lunch because their child doesn’t want the school lunches, but that’s never been an option. 

“We explain to our son that if he gets free school meals, we have a little bit more money for fun things. 

“On the other hand, my eldest doesn’t qualify for free school meals anymore, so he has a packed lunch, which is much cheaper, even though on certain days he may prefer the school meal option. 

“Being honest with kids about money and why we make the decisions we do is important to us.” 

Costco membership 

Emma also stressed when everyone should get a Costco membership, as she recognised: “We recently signed up for the basic Costco membership; we were eligible to apply as my husband is a teacher. 

“Check if you qualify, as buying in bulk can really save money. Some large items are much cheaper than the supermarket. 

“Once we’ve stocked up at the beginning of the month, we then do a weekly budget for small top-ups of fresh fruit, milk, and bread.” 

Do a daily, weekly, and monthly food audit 

Not only this, but Emma also advised people to do a regular food audit, as she explained: “Every day I check the perishables in the fridge and make sure they get used. So if the strawberries are looking like they’ve not got much life left, we have them and not the stuff that looks fresher. 

“I also ignore use-by dates. You could potentially be throwing away perfectly good food. Feel it and sniff it! 

“I also check what we have weekly before I write a food shop list, so I only buy what we need; and then I repeat this at the end of the month to use up everything before buying new.” 


Where bills are concerned, Emma shared her three tips to keep costs as low as possible.

Timers on TV switches  

If you haven’t got a timer on your TV, you’ll need to listen up, as Emma advised: “To stop TVs from being on standby, we have timer plugs that automatically switch them off overnight. 

“We also limit screen time. The boys have to play independently and imaginatively with board games or in the outdoors, or read a book to earn screen time. 

“It saves money on electricity because they don’t need to charge devices as regularly.” 

Fill everything up 

She also stressed the importance on filling everything up, as she claimed: “I never, ever put on a half-full washing machine or dishwasher. It would kill me.  

“I very rarely use the tumble dryer. Even in winter, I will try my best to air-dry everything.” 

Cancel contracts and never auto-renew 

If your monthly outgoings are getting out of control, Emma noted: “We once ended up cancelling our TV package contract with Sky and were only able to watch free channels because we refused to pay the higher price to renew our contract. 

“That time it didn’t work so well but if your bill has gone up, call your provider and tell them you’re thinking about cancelling your service. 

“You’ll usually get a better deal, especially if you can show evidence that another provider is cheaper. 

“Never auto-renew either. Keep a list of when things like home or car insurance are due and start researching the market before the time comes. 

“Auto-renewing might be convenient, but it can also be expensive.” 


You might think it is impossible to make cutbacks on your essentials, but Emma is here to prove you wrong.

Discount schemes 

The savvy mum raves about discount schemes, as she claimed: “Both my husband and I have discount schemes as part of our employee benefits, provided by a company called Edenred. 

“There are thousands of offers on everything from food at big supermarkets to days out and hotels. 

“So I will always check the Edenred app to see if there is a discount available before buying anything.” 

Save a small amount every month 

She also advised people to try and save every month if they can, as she added: “As soon as our salaries are paid into the bank, £50 goes straight into a savings account for Christmas. 

“My bank account automatically rounds up purchases to the nearest pound and saves the difference in a separate account. 

“The pennies add up, and it's not as noticeable as trying to save hundreds every month.” 

Marketplaces for big-ticket items 

Finally, if you need to make a big purchase, Emma advised looking second-hand before forking out the cash, as she concluded: “We recently needed a chainsaw to trim back an overgrown tree. 

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“Paying a professional would have cost a lot but a new chainsaw would also have set us back. Instead, we used Facebook Marketplace and got one for £20, nearly new. 

“Similarly, if your road has a WhatsApp chat you can ask your neighbours if they have any big items and even share things, like lawnmowers or jet washers.” 

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