Most people feel budgeting is about as fun as going to the dentist. Just like going to the dentist, it can be a bit hard in the beginning but in the end you’ll feel better! However, if we’re going to take control of our financial wellbeing a budget is a very important tool.
You don’t need to build an elaborate spreadsheet or buy expensive software, there are plenty of ways to build an effective budget using free apps, websites, or a pen and paper (remember when those were a thing?).
When we speak about budgeting we also usually talk about objectives, savings, and loads of other topics. Today, our objective is simple – have a clear view of money coming in and money going out!
As we prepare for what may become a rough time for some people, doing this now enables you to be in control, gives you a way to play through different scenarios, and know where you need to cut back, ask for help, or find ways to increase your income. We’ll come back to these points in the next few days.
Online Budgeting Tools
Money and Pensions Service Budget Planner
Budget Builder from The Money Charity
The Budget Planner by MoneySavingExpert.com
Moneyhub (paid for)
Citizen’s Advice – Downloadable budget sheet
National Debtline – Online tool or downloadable budget sheet
It’s worth checking out the tools offered by your bank or building society especially if you bank with one of the newer app based banks like Starling or Monzo. They have a number of features to help you be more aware of your spending habits but may not include the ability for a comprehensive budget like some of the other services. Also remember you will need to open a new account to access their services.
Whatever method you choose to manage your money here’s a few tips to help you get the most out of your budget:
- Make sure to include absolutely everything in your budget no matter how big or small the amount
- Consider how you include less frequent income and outgoings such as bonuses, car insurance, or clothing
- You don’t have to do it all in one go – if it gets a bit overwhelming, take a break or do a portion of your budget over a few days
- If you share your finances with a spouse, partner, or someone else do your budget together. Talking about money can sometimes be difficult. You can get some help with starting the conversation from the Money and Pensions Service
Initially you may find some areas of your budget that you’d like to improve like reducing spending on shopping or eating out. You may also be pleasantly surprised to find out you have some money left at the end of the month to save or pay down debt. Either way, this step is about building awareness not judging. We’ll cover how to tackle some of the problem areas of your budget in the coming days.
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