We’ve all been there; we look at our statement around payday and there just isn’t enough cash present. We haven’t been spending on luxuries such as holidays and cars but, for some reason, the figures just don’t seem to add up, even though we’ve been keeping an eye on them throughout the month. Of course, it only ever goes in one direction –we’re never pleasantly surprised by the amount of cash in our account, are we? Similarly, if we’re looking to move away from our parents and spread our wings by renting for the first time, we should make time to know that we’re going to be able to afford it.
So we need to budget, to make sure that our home and our children are fed and warm, with a roof over their head. Here’s how to start:
You might be surprised by the rate at which some expenses build up. For example, this writer’s household was paying more than £100 in satellite subscription fees alone until recently. It required a brutal analysis and breakdown of what was going on: multi-room usage, broadband, UHD coverage and the odd boxing PPV were all adding up, plus packages for documentary channels that no-one was really watching.
There are several essentials that must be considered. We have to have a roof over our head, and we have to eat and sleep. We have to drive/travel, and we have to have at least some form of entertainment in our lives, otherwise we’re not really living. If we can delineate what we want, and what we need, we can start to crack down on what we can save.
What would you like to have at the end of the month? What is the minimum, and what would make you comfortable or happy? Take this figure and see if there are any avenues for saving money in your current outgoings. For example, when was the last time you changed (or at least researched) your utility providers? Or planned a shopping budget at the start of the week, cutting down on expensive ready meals/ingredients that are not used? Marrying this with any vouchers/coupons of note might save several pounds a week, and restrict the risk of ‘BOGOFs’ that don’t actually get you anywhere because you never use the free food.
Running a household should not just be your job when other people in the home can help. Explaining that savings have to be made, and that some of the changes are small enough to be barely noticeable, will save on arguments. Turning off lights when not in the room, and maybe cutting out one takeaway/cinema trip/luxury a week or month, should be acceptable by everyone in the home.
Plan ahead to budget for the times of the year when life becomes more expensive; this includes Christmas, Halloween, birthdays, family events such as weddings/christenings, and other events. Knowing these occasions are coming means that you can keep some money in place so that you do not necessarily have to go into further debt. Also, don’t be afraid to say ‘No’ sometimes if you cannot afford something!