There are times when we all struggle with money but there are things that can help you cope better.
1. Budget – I know it seems an obvious one but having a budget really does work and is easy to do. To start off with write down a list of all your outgoings, how much they are and when they need to be paid by. Make sure you include standing orders and direct debits. So things like your TV License, energy bills, telephone bills, credit card bills. Then when you know how much your outgoings are you can write down all your income, make sure you include any benefits you may receive such as child benefit, tax credits etc. I keep a dairy and have made a note of every bill that needs to be paid each month. I usually write it down at least ten days before it’s due and have how much is due and when next to it. Then when I have paid it I cross it off and make a note of the date that it was paid. I also note down any days out or school trips that are planned in my diary too as it also helps me know when I need to budget a little better. This method has helped me no end over the last seven years and will be even more important when I move to being paid monthly when I start a new job.
2. Write a meal plan – again this my seem obvious but so many people don’t do this. I have to admit its something that I don’t currently do but am determined to start again this summer. Having a meal plan not only helps you when it comes to deciding what’s for dinner but it also helps you with your food shop. Basically it ensures you only buy what you need for that weeks meals and therefore helps you budget better. Also knowing what you already have in your cupboards and freezer helps a lot too and prevents over buying and buying products you don’t need.
3. Start a rainy day fund – Each week put a little bit of money to one side, be that in a separate bank account or somewhere safe. I try to do this especially with the run up to the school summer holidays and Christmas. Some weeks I can only put a couple of pounds in my fund but those weeks I can afford a little more I do. It means that when the holidays come I am able to take them out and maybe treat us to lunch out even if it’s just chips or maybe treat them to a trip to the cinema. Then after the Summer Holidays my rainy day fund becomes a Christmas fund where I save for presents and our Christmas food shop.
4. Plan for the school holidays. Six weeks is a long time off and regardless of how many children you have it can be a costly time. I try to keep an eye out for offers for local attractions that I can take advantage of during the holidays. I also spend time making a list of places that are free or very cheap to visit locally. I am very lucky to live in an area not only near the coast but with lots of open spaces such as wildlife centres around us. This year we have also joined the National Trust as we have lots of sites near by and they make great days out. I pay for this monthly which costs me under £10. This last weekend we visited two National Trust sites and due to our membership saved ourselves over £30 entry fees. We took our own picnic with us too to save buying food out which can be costly.
5. Spread the cost of Christmas – we have quite a large family so tend to try and start buying gifts before July to help spread the cost. This year we have managed to take advantage of some of the Summer sales and picked up a few bits we know our children especially will like. I also picked up cards and a few rolls of wrapping paper in the January sales. The last few years I have also tried to make some gifts be it a food gift or a pamper hamper. This also helps keep costs down. Additionally we make a list of who we have to buy for and how much we have to spend on each person, again this helps us budget better.
6. Check you are receiving the best deal on your telephone, television, internet and energy providers. This is something that is simple to do and you can use comparison sites to help you. But it makes sure you are on the best available tariffs and hopefully will save you money. Like wise if you pay fees to your bank for having a certain type of account or overdraft, I’ve recently done this and saved myself £20 a month with my bank, that is a whopping £240 a year saving. So I used some of that saving to buy a family membership to the National Trust.
Sometimes no matter how much we budget and plan though there an unexpected costs, maybe your washing machine breaks down or your car needs work doing that you hadn’t anticipated. It’s managing these costs sometimes that can be stressful. The first thing you must do is don’t panic, sit down and take a look at your budget. Is there something you can do without in order to use the money for the unexpected cost? Think about making an appointment to speak to your bank to see if they can organise a loan for you. Maybe your a member of a credit union and they can help you in the short term. But if these are not options for you, you may have to look at a short term or quick loans I appreciate that this option is not for everyone but it is an option for some and if it’s a route you want to explore ensure you have read all the information first.
I hope that some of these will help you manage your finances, sometimes a small change makes a big difference.
This is a collaborative post however the content is 100% my own.