The Basics of Budgeting

 

The basics of budgeting does not necessarily just mean cutting back but actually also about looking at what income you have coming in, what bills and other expenses you pay out and then allocating money to the various purposes.

So let’s take a closer look at the basics of budgeting and where to start.

Income

Your income is the total sum of whatever money you have coming in each week or month. That may include salary or wages, tax credit, child benefit, maintenance or other payments. It is often easier to work this out on a monthly basis, so add everything up.

Expenditure

At this point list everything that you pay out. Even things that maybe you want to stop or change, just list all the bills, payments and other money you spend each month with the name that describes the payment and the amount. Then total it up each month.

Budget

The best place to start with setting a budget is to separate each of your bills or payments – so household bills like your mortgage, rent, electricity, gas, phone and necessary household bills each month. Go through each one and look at whether you could be saving money, for example taking out a new gas or electric contract or getting a better deal on your house insurance. Once you have these figures then set a budget amount for household.

Next go to your weekly food shopping and set a monthly budget amount for groceries.

Do the same for travel and fuel and so on until you have a list of budget categories and amounts next to each. You may be able to budget for less or more depending on what is important to you.

By working through each one you can start to see where you could save money and perhaps where you could put more money. For example you might be able to save money on household bills and put more in your budget for saving.

The Basics of Budgeting

The Money Advice Service have several resources you can look at for living on a budget and the basics of budgeting.

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10 Ways You Are Wasting Money Without Knowing It

One of the ways to help manage your money better is to start tracking your spending. If you do this over the period of a month you might be surprised at where your money is actually going! For some people it might seem obvious. For example, you may think you spend most of your money on groceries and food or petrol and travelling. It is a very useful and worthwhile exercise because it allows you to see what you spend your money on, where you can save and then work towards managing your money better.

There are many things we spend money on that we don’t perhaps even give much thought to. Here’s 10 ways you’re wasting money without knowing it:

 

1. Designer Drinks

Although it is lovely to grab a cup of tea or coffee while you are out, drinks from Costa or Starbucks are expensive and buying them regularly means the cost is soon mounting up. Limit these to just a treat or get yourself a coffee mug and make your own to take with you!

 

2. Buying Sale or Promotional Items

Sales always seem to tempt us into buying things we really don’t need. We see the SALE sign and we must go in to look. Did we really need that pair of shoes, or that jacket? Probably not and we wouldn’t have bought it had we not seen the SALE sign. Similarly, ever been in the supermarket and noticed the buy two get the third free promotion? Same thing. We end up buying far more than we need or items that we never intended to buy in the first place. General rule of thumb could be that if you need something, then go find a SALE or promotion, but don’t be tempted in by them!

 

3. Credit Card Interest

The best way to manage a credit card is to purchase items on it and then pay it off each month. If you are living month to month paying minimum amounts on your credit card then firstly, you are living beyond your means and secondly, you are paying a ridiculous amount of interest! We understand it can be hard. Credit cards give you things you cannot afford otherwise, but that’s the lure! It is easy to spend the money, but can be difficult to pay it back. With the interest it becomes a money trap and you are simply wasting your money. If you do have credit card debt, try a balance transfer which can give you 0% interest if you pay it off within usually 6 months. Otherwise you could try debt consolidation to save yourself money each month.

 

4. Apps & Monthly Subscriptions

Free apps are brilliant but have you ever downloaded that app you love only to realise after 7 days that you have to pay a subscription? It may only be £5.99 a month after the free trial but when you have several of them going a month it soon mounts up and before you know it, you’re wasting a sizeable amount of money every month on your app subscriptions. Advertisers are clever and have got much cleverer about ways to hook you into paying monthly. There are some subscriptions where you can pay yearly and save quite a bit in doing so, but many ask you for the monthly payment. This isn’t just limited to apps on your phone either. Popular movie sites like Amazon Prime or Netflix have small monthly subscription charges that again seem manageable. Add them to your others though and they have mounted up. If you do have a few of these, ask yourself if you really need them, or maybe you could alternate between them.

 

5. Mobile Phone Plan

Mobile phones are too expensive for most people to buy outright. Plans help you get the latest phone and give you minutes, data and text. All that, however, comes at a price. The more you want, the more you’ll pay. If you are locked into a contract, there is little you can do to get out of it, unless you are going to pay off the remaining contract fees. The next time you are due to renew however, spend some time going over your previous year usage. If you don’t use the amount of data, texts or calls you are paying for then opt for a cheaper plan and save yourself some money!

 

6. Lunch

It’s lovely going out to eat but if you do this often, you’ll find that you are spending much more than you realise. Rather than buying sandwiches or lunch out, take the time to get the food in and make them at home. Be creative and spend a bit of time researching what you could make yourself for lunch. You’ll probably enjoy it much more too! Here’s some ideas http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/healthy-lunch

 

7. Expired Food

You are literally throwing your money away if you end up emptying your fridge of gone off food at the end of the week or throwing out expired food. Don’t overbuy at the grocery store. By planning your meals you can ensure you have everything you need without wasting. Good to Know has some great ideas for planning meals. http://www.goodtoknow.co.uk/recipes/meal-planner

 

8. Unplug Your Electronics

It might only seem like a small thing but it all adds up. Rather than keeping every electronic device in your house powered up, turn it off. Switch off the plugs too! You will be surprised at how much difference this makes to your annual energy bill. I didn’t realise either what a hum all that electricity makes, keeping the motors and fans whirring in those devices when switched on. When everything is switched off you will also enjoy the silence.

 

9. Shop Smarter

We are all too familiar with the price differences in supermarkets. Local stores or corner shops are even more expensive. Do some shopping around! Literally. Take the time to try a few different supermarkets to see which give you the best value for money. You can also look online at the comparisons available for these, but often the best way is just to shop yourself and see. Discounted stores like Aldi often have brand names too, so it isn’t just a case of having to go to larger supermarket chains for these either.

 

10. Finally…

…remember, this is about cutting back to save you money in the long run so that you have more money for the things you really want. Start considering your finances more seriously. What do you want in your life in the long term? How about the short term? Do you have savings? There are many things to consider when looking to improve your financial wellbeing. By starting out by cutting back where you can you will manage your money better and over time become a better saver.

 

 

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