Budgeting Can Save You Money

Every month, without fail, I work out our money to make sure that we are budgeting correctly.

Some people think that budgeting means that they are going to have to stop spending money on all the good things they do in life.

In fact it can be the opposite, as it quite often can increase the money you have to spend on the good things in life, as it stops you from wasting money on the things you don’t need.

For example, if you buy a £2.50 takeaway coffee, on your way to work each morning, this adds up to approximately £587 per year!  I’m sure this money could be well spent on something better than cups of coffee.  You could quite easily get up a little bit earlier and have a cup of coffee before you leave the house, or even when you first get to work?

Looking at where your money goes to each month is a good way to stop you from overspending.

If you do overspend each month, then you can find yourself very quickly spiralling into debt and paying more and more interest every month on credit cards, bank loans, store cards etc.

There is no right or wrong way to budget and it’s important to find a way that suits you, but this is how we do it:

At the very beginning, when I first started to budget, I listed down all our outgoings.

Here is a list of the things we budget for monthly:

Mortgage

Council tax

Water rates

Gas and electricity

Buildings and contents insurance

TV licence

Food, toiletries, cleaning products, prescription charges

Mobile phone charges

Car expenses (incl petrol, breakdown service, MOT, services etc.)

School transport costs

Allotment expenses

Dental charges

Hair cuts

Clothes and shoes (incl. school uniforms)

Girl’s karate expenses

Christmas and birthday presents

Holidays

Spending money (for odds and sods, outings, etc.)

Absolutely everything above is budgeted for.

When I first made a list of outgoings, I hadn’t a clue what we spent on some of these things.  For some things, I needed to look back at old bank or credit card statements and other things I had to check old receipts if I still had them.   For example, I needed to look back at my last three months’ worth of food shopping receipts, so I could work out our average monthly spend.

I was lucky as I could work most of our expenditure out, but If you haven’t kept your receipts or statements, then it is a good idea to write down a list of every little thing you spend your money on for a whole month, so you know exactly where your money goes to.

This really is an eye opener and sometimes, even when you have been budgeting for years, it’s a worthwhile exercise to do again.

Afterwards, my husband and I looked at each of the things we spend money on and set a budget for them.  Some things we knew exactly how much we pay for each month e.g. gas and electricity and other things were harder to work out e.g. christmas and birthday presents.

We then looked at our monthly income and took it away from our monthly budget, we found out exactly why we were overspending every month, as our income was far less than the amount we were actually spending.

At this time, I had just had my eldest daughter and I didn’t want to go back to work, so things really had to change.  We sat down and scrutinised each and every category to see if the budget for that area could be reduced further.  It’s amazing what you can do if you try hard enough.

We switched gas and electricity suppliers, cancelled magazine subscriptions, re-looked at our food purchases, stopped having takeaways etc. and eventually managed to bring our outgoings down.

One of the areas we did struggle on, was reducing our spending on christmas and birthday presents.  Strangely enough, we did find it easy to spend less on each other and even the kids, but we have two large families and a large circle of friends and we did find it hard to reduce the amount of money we spent on presents for other people.

We did try and explain to people that we just couldn’t spend the same amount on people anymore and most people were fine about this and understood, but not all did, which hurt at the time.  Since then I’ve realised the opinion of the people concerned, really didn’t matter anyway.

I’m not saying it was easy at the beginning, as it wasn’t.  In fact, it is hard to cut back on your spending when you are used to buying whatever you want to, whenever you want, but in time your attitude towards money does change.  It can actually become a challenge each time you need to buy something and to spend less on it than you are expecting to pay.

Since we first made a budget, we have always kept a close eye on it and we have made changes along the way.  For instance, shortly after my first daughter was born, we worked out that we couldn’t afford another baby on the budget we had, so we needed to find something quite substantial to cut back on.  We decided our car was not a necessity, but a luxury, so we sold it!  It was hard to adjust at first, but after a while it didn’t seem so bad and I went on to have another beautiful baby girl.

Today, my daughters are nearly 15 and 13 years old, so budgeting is a normal way of life for us now.  We have our ups and downs with money still, but we are certainly more prepared for emergencies now than we were before we budgeted years ago.

I will be writing about our birthday and christmas money saving, in the future.  For the moment, you can read about ways to reduce your food shopping bills here and ways to reduce holiday spending here.

You really can still enjoy life on a small budget, you just need to look at things from a different perspective.  You don’t have to be the same as everyone else and keep up with the ‘Jones’, in fact it can be more fun to actually do things differently.

Finally, if you are struggling with debt in the UK, please do not contact a debt specialist that charges to help you to solve your debt problems.  There is a wonderful free website with all the information you need to know when you are in debt.  It gives details of people that will give you advice, free of charge.  It is called ‘The Money Saving Expert’ and you can find it here.

Thank you for reading my blog today.

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12 thoughts on “Budgeting Can Save You Money

  1. A brilliant post very helpful, we are trying to deal with a much reduced income, i have always budgeted but now we only have money for the essentials cant plan in for dental/opticians/ christmas etc have planned in everything else, i feel we can make cutbacks in food by using Aldis and Asda, will see how it goes, then it may free up more income, your blog is very helpful.
    sue

    • Hi Sue. We could only budget for essentials at the beginning, though things have picked up now. You sound like you are doing a brilliant job. I found I could back a little bit by padding out food with vegetables and bulk buying when there were offers on. Also, be careful with the prices in Aldi. I thought it was always cheaper on everything, but when I actually compared prices I found it wasn’t always so…it depends if you have the time to do this.
      Cleaning with vinegar, bicarb etc really does cut down costs and it’s just as good. The laundry liquid is cheap to make and you can get all the ingredients from Wilkinsons and they last for ages.
      Have you got children?…If so I know exactly how you must be feeling…it is a challenge, but you should feel proud of yourself as other would just crumble on a low income…well done.

  2. careful budgetting and managing on a low income is never easy – but I for one am glad that people are being more open and honest about it these days. Great post.
    And I hope your macmillan coffee morning goes well!

  3. We have a budget worked out for the year for the mortgage, the utilities, the schooling, the children’s swimming and taekwondo, the car rego and expenses, ummmm, the various insurances, Chrisco, um, um, um, what else? Uh, brain went bank! But there are a couple of other things I’m sure. But we work out in excess what we’ll pay out for the year, and then break it down to fortnightly payments. Naturally it has to be rechecked and updated at times, but it has not let us down!

  4. I do enjoy a good bargain, buy Xmas crackers and wrapping paper, cards after Xmas in sale and put away for next year. If out for the day take packed lunch and flask of coffee as often food out is horrible. I could go on, really enjoy looking at your site, and think you must be a good person. I had great pleasure doing a shoe box when I was working. Charity shops are good for bargains.

    • Hi Sandra and welcome to my blog. I love a good bargain too and I do hate wasted money. I do think that your own food and drink tastes nicer when you are out and about too. I am so glad you have enjoyed reading my blog.

  5. Some useful tips there , thank you. I’ve have always had to budget being a single parent without any Child Maintenance(just got income support in those days& if you got any CM it had to be given back to the Government ,all except £10)I learnt to manage using tips I had seen over the years from my own parents & grandmother who had lived through the war ! I am quite proud about the standard of life we managed to have on a budget – at one stage I had 2 teenagers & a 2 year old to look after .Then I married a man who had 4 children from his previous marriage,had a baby at 45 & consequently still have to budget. It’s been a way of life for me! I say to my husband he couldn’t afford for me to go out to work it would cost more in food, travel, clothes for work & childcare!
    Kind regards, Carrie

    • Oh Carriet you have worked so hard in life, you should be really proud of yourself! I think it was wonderful how our grandparents lived and I think in those days families were closer and people appreciated everything more. People got along without expensive gadgets and reused everything they could. We can learn so much from their generation.
      As far as going out to work, I think our family have been happier because I stayed at home instead of going back to work when my daughters were born. Money has always been tight, especially at the beginning, but I’m glad it was because I have learnt so much and found that for me, this way of living gives far more satifaction that a 9-5 job does.

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