City : Money, Housing and Benefits : Budgeting
Top Tips about Budgets:
- Draw up a budget and be honest with yourself
- When you write up your budget write down literally every expense, from the £1.50 you spent on a bus ticket to your rent payment
- Prioritise: make a list of the ten most important goals you have. Are you saving for education costs, for buying your first house, for getting out of debt, for a summer holiday? Which is the most urgent?
- Budgets include two sides, incomings and outgoings
- Set realistic goals. Budgeting is like dieting; it won't work if you set unrealistic goals
- Motivation: think about why you are budgeting and focus on it to motivate you so you can stick to your budget
- Get support and don't be worried about asking for advice
- Expect the unexpected: save some money for emergencies, in case your car breaks down or you need to have something replaced. Having some money put by will stop an emergency becoming a disaster
Signs that you need to budget
- You can't sleep because you worry about money
- You are spending more money than you have
- You regularly take out pay-day loans
- You don't have an emergency fund
- You don't know how much you are spending each month
How to create a budget
Figure out what you are spending:
- Leave yourself an hour or two to sit down with all your bank statements and receipts and work out a budget.
- If you use a bank then your statements are a brilliant way of keeping track of what you are spending on what
- If you live off cash then for a month or two try to keep receipts from all your spending to see where your money is going
- When you write your income on your budget, only put money that you are sure of, don't put down money you might get
- Plan in some money to treat yourself with, there is no point budgeting to save 30% of your income if that means you never get to go to the cinema or go for a drink with friends
- Use our budgeting progress tracker to see how to start. Think about all your expenses, here are some things you might want to include (Housing / Bills / Cars / Travel / Food / Entertainment)
Once you've made your budget
Once you've written it have a good look at it. Go back through what you've written and have a think about how you are spending your money
- Even if you aren't spending more than you're earning it may be worth trying to cut back anyway, as a general rule you should try and spend no more than 90% or your income. This means you have 10% saved for hard times or if something unexpected occurs like your car needs something replaced
- Don't worry if you struggle to keep to your budget for the first few months, remember it is about trial and error and it may take you a while to get the hang of it!
- Keep reviewing your budget, check it every month to make sure that it is accurate, the more accurate it is the more you will know about your situation
Tips On Cutting Smaller Expenses
Look for small savings and you will be surprised how they add up, do you buy a large latte from a coffee chain every day? You can cut it out altogether by bringing one from home, bringing your own mug, or you could but a small one rather than a large. If you save £1 a day on coffee then in a week you will save £5 in a week and £20 in a month!
Food Shopping: If you go food shopping a couple of times a week then try and put it into one trip and buy everything you need in one go. People tend to spend more money when they go shopping regularly. It will also save on petrol! Don't go shopping on an empty stomach and plan meals for the week ahead so you only buy what you need.
Clothes Shopping: you can get much better value for money if you wait till the end of season sale where you can get up to 60/70% of the ticket price.
Clean out your junk: sell the stuff that you don't want or don't use any more online to get yourself some extra cash. eBay is a great way to clear space and to get some extra spending money as well. MusicMagpie is a great way of getting rid of your old CDs and DVDs.
Try some DIY: If you know you spend a lot on lunch every day then bring in your own a couple of days per week. Block out time on Sunday to make your own food and you will be surprised at how much you save.
Tips On Cutting Larger Expenses
Do you know how much you are paying in your monthly bills? It’s easy to just let this one slide by, but if you use the Meter Readings app it will help you keep track of how much you are spending so you can think about moving provider or getting a better deal.
If you share a house with one or more people then try using Household Bills Splitter App to work out how much each person owes. It costs £1.49 to download but could put an end to those end-of-the-month arguments
If you drive to work but have a bike then think about cycling in, it will save you money on petrol and help you get fit at the same time
If you smoke try and quit, it will save you a fortune aside from the obvious health benefits!
Best Apps for Saving Money
- 0870 or 08 Wizard: At 69p these apps make premium phone numbers into local calls, saving you money if you make a lot of 0800 calls. Although you have to pay 69p for it upfront it will make your money back. There are some free versions in both the Apple Store and Google Play Store (for Android phones)
- Toshl: A free app that tracks your spending in a graph giving you an easy way to see where you are overspending
- Mint: Another free app which allows you to track your spending and alerts you when your bills are due. You can also use it to set personal reminders and track your personal finance goals.
- Cashpointer: If you find that you are always paying on your card and struggle to control how much you spend this app tells you where the nearest cash point is. So before a night out take out your budget for the evening and spend only that, don't be tempted to buy drinks at the bar on your card.
- RedLaser: this is a great app which allows you to scan the barcode on an item and it will go online to check where you can get the same item for a cheaper price. If you find it cheaper online you can even buy the item directly from the app.
- Voucher Sites: There are so many different voucher sites where you can get discounts for all sorts of things. Here are just a few: Living Social, Groupon, My Voucher Codes, Retail Me Not, and O2 Priority Moments.
- Loyalli: This free app puts all of your loyalty cards onto one smartphone app, so you don't have to worry about forgetting your card or fumbling in your bag for your discount card.
- Fuel School App: This tracks your driving using GPS and analyses your style to make sure that you are being fuel efficient. It costs 69p but if you improve your driving style, it will pay for itself in petrol savings.
- What Gas: Another free app, it searches the petrol stations near you on a map and shows you where you can get the cheapest prices
Where to Get Help
Christians Against Poverty are a national debt counseling charity who offer advice and guidance on money issues. They offer help to anyone regardless of religion or race or situation.
Money Advice Service: This government run service offers loads of advice and guidance on all sorts of money issues on their site and through their phoneline.
Citizens Advice: Offer guidance on money and debt problems.
Step Change: Is a charity offering advice and guidance on debt all for free.