You only have to turn on the news or your computer nowadays to hear about how prices are rising yet incomes are falling, especially in the case of redundancies and similar. If the UK economic crisis of the past few years has taught Brits anything it is the importance of living within a budget and keeping a handle on our personal finances.
Working out a budget is important. It is easy to see how so many people have found themselves deep in debt and unable to climb out as paying for items on credit always catches up, particularly when you consider the interest rates that are being paid. The only way to avoid this type of hardship is to ensure that you avoid credit where you can, budgeting an amount for items you want or need to have.
The key to an effective budget is working out a realistic budget. A spread sheet that shows income in and bills and food out is not going to work for very long. Within your budget you need to account for things like birthdays, holidays and entertainment. Clothing and footwear needs to be included as does money put aside for emergencies. When setting yourself a long term budget you need to look realistically at what you do spend and what you need to spend or put away each month. For example, putting away a monthly payment towards the next car tax disc so that when the bill comes in you have funds ready to cover them is much more organised than having to pay on a credit card as you don’t have an extra couple of hundred pounds spare in your wages (chances in Car Tax mean that motorist will soon be able to opt for a monthly direct debit to pay for their car / road tax).
Cutting your excess spending is the first step to reducing your outgoings and putting together a budget that is easier to stick to. Consider for example whether you need Sky with all of the extras. Reducing your packages for entertainment for example doesn’t mean stopping them altogether but cuts the cost and an extra £20 a month might be used for the MOT bill or Christmas budget.
Keeping an eye on your finances is an important part of living within a budget. Using a spending diary or keeping an eye on spending via online banking will help you to ensure that you are not overspending. Similarly, try and use cash more when out and about. It is a lot harder to hand over a crisp £10 note from the cashpoint for a frivolous magazine and takeaway coffee than it is to simply enter your chip and pin code and use “unseen” money. Using cash helps you to keep an eye on what you spend and similarly discourages unnecessary spending.
Cutting the cost of all of your purchases will help you to keep within budget and still enjoy the food, entertainment items and more. Shopping online for many items does work out significantly cheaper, especially as you are able to compare prices and deals with ease. When shopping online you have to again think twice about the amount you are paying as you fill in all of your delivery and cash card details and this is not necessarily a bad thing. For those must-have or really-want items search reputable sites for discount codes and free delivery offers to again shave pounds off.
It really is easier than you think to get a handle on your personal finances, cutting your outgoings and living within your means if you do a small amount of planning and assess and alter your spending habits.