Running a household can be an expensive business. There are bills to be paid, essential maintenance work, grocery shopping and more to contend with. This is before you get to entertainment packages, soft furnishings and new clothes. We can all do with a little help to make ends meet, so I am sharing my top tips for keeping my spending within budget.
Shop around for your household bills
I know that this is written about time and time again but it really does make a difference. Don’t always accept the first quote either. Sometimes I can find a cheaper online quote for an existing insurance policy than the one noted on my renewal letter. One quick call and invariably the online version is honoured, sometimes with an added extra for the inconvenience. Don’t be afraid to ask!
Make a spreadsheet
Log all of your regular monthly and annual outgoings in one place. At a glance, for example, I can see that for one reason or another July is our heaviest month financially. This means that I know immediately that I need to be extra careful through the first few weeks of the school summer holiday with planned outgoings. This might also help to pin point any unnecessary expenses such as a policy you forgot to cancel or a gym membership that you never use.
This can make such a difference, both to your budget and to any waste food. Plan ahead to work out what you’re eating and when, and whether you can make extra portions to save for a later date. Take care to plan some meals in that can be easily frozen or use up cupboard stock, so that if anything unexpected crops up, like illness for example, fresh food doesn’t spoil. Try online food shopping too, so that you’re not tempted by those end of aisle special offers. These are some of our budget meal choices: Cup of Toast Budget Family Meals
Sure, you might not want to walk around with a wad of money in your pocket, but using cash even just withdrawing a certain amount every day can help to keep you on track. All of a sudden those little treats like a snack when you’re out and about start to noticeably stack up.
Hunt for second hand bargains
From charity shops, to car boot sales, eBay, to Facebook marketplace, there are all sorts of places that you can find preloved goodies. Take advantage of other people’s clear outs to stock up your wardrobe and buy bargain birthday presents, kitchen utensils, new furniture and more.
Expecting the unexpected is very important when budgeting your finances. Set aside an amount each month, however small, to pay for a sudden expense. If it isn’t needed, you can add the money to your savings pot at the end of the month.
Prioritise your income
In my opinion there is not a huge amount of point building up your savings pot on the one hand if you have a pile of existing debts on the other. I’m not suggesting that you stop all long term payments. You will be grateful for your pension, for example, in later life. With the exception of considering my above point about flexibility, your short term savings can be put on hold for a while though. This will give you time to pay off any overdrafts, credit cards or loans that you have. Pay them off as regular monthly amounts too, to make them easier to manage. Paying these off not only eases pressure but avoids incurring any hefty interest payments.
If your outgoings are all getting too much to handle get some professional help. The experts in this field can help you to look at your existing bills and financial obligations, along with your long term saving goals and future plans. They will have seen it all, so whatever you think about any financial muddle that you might be in, they are there to help not to judge.
These are my top tips, but what are yours? Do let me know in the comments!