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Tips For Staying On Budget

Three little words that can change your life completely: On. A. Budget.

They’re enough to strike fear into the heart, dread into the soul, and a person into the nearest pub. Sticking to a budget is easier in theory than practice. But, it does get easier with time.

So, if the nearest you’ve come to a spreadsheet is making the bed, here’re some really simple things you can do to help keep your finances on track.

First things first:

  • Know your income
  • Know your outgoings
  • Know the difference

As simple as it sounds, this is the best place to start. Most of us have a ‘rough idea’ of how much we have to play with after everything is paid for. Under or overestimate by just a few pounds and your budget is already blown.

  • Set a goal. What do you want to achieve? Clear a credit card. Buy a car. Pay for a wedding. Have a nice holiday. You’re more likely to reach it if you define it.
  • Give yourself a weekly allowance. Sounds sad doesn’t it? But how you spend it is entirely up to you. Splurge, stretch or even save it. The choice is yours.
  • Take only cash out with you. Temptation is so much easier to turn down if you can’t bang it on a credit card.
  • Any bad habits? Biting your nails doesn’t count. But if you go cold turkey on the takeaways or cool it with the cappuccinos, you’ll be amazed how much you can save. Cash and calories. Win, win.
  • Keep all receipts for a week. Then review them. Your spending habits might surprise you – especially the realisation of how much money slips through your mitts.
  • Push the boat out now and again. We’re talking dinghy, not super-yacht. But having a treat now and again is more likely to reduce the need for a frustration-fuelled spending spree.
  • If you can afford to factor it in, regard saving as a ‘bill’ and put aside a set amount each month. It will provide a safety net for the unforeseeable, such as your car breaking down or the boiler going on the blink.
  • Be a ‘yellow sticker’ stalwart! Get familiar with the fridge in your local supermarket where all the reduced items go. First thing in the morning or last thing at night are the best times to have a rummage. You can get things marked down from £4 to 20p. You’ll just need to be prepared to eat it that day.
  • Know when it’s time to ask for help. Having outgoings all over the place, can be overwhelming. Whether you speak to a family member, trusted friend or a free-from-judgment professional (sometimes easier), talking your finances through with someone can be all that’s needed to help see the wood for the trees.

Don’t beat yourself up if you go over budget once in a while (pain relief is expensive). Life’s unpredictable and stuff happens you can’t plan or prepare for. Whatever the next steps on your journey, you can feel good about the fact you’re taking control of your hard-earned money and making it work for you.