A good budget should be a solution to your spending worries – not an additional form of stress. With the right budgeting strategy, you can make sure that you have everything you need for convenience and comfort at home, without draining your bank balance. After all, no-one enjoys having to live from pay check to paycheck.
The good news is that budgeting your expenses doesn’t necessarily mean that you must give up everything you enjoy. You can still have an active lifestyle with plenty of fun and bonding moments with the family. The key to success is simply finding the right balance between spending and savings. Try to save too much at once, and you risk falling off the wagon. Try to spend everything you earn, and you end up in debt.
If you’re worried that you just won’t be able to restrict your spending habits the following tips might help.
1. Be Realistic
If you want to create a beautifully balanced budget that your entire family can stick with, then the first thing you need to do is approach your money with realistic expectations. You might currently spend about £300 a month on restaurant visits when really, you’d prefer to spend around £100. Try cutting back to around £150 a month instead, while looking for places to eat for less.
Eventually, the aim will be to cut down to the full £100, but it’s better to start slow than push yourself to do too much at once.
2. Set Up Automatic Deposits and Direct Debits
Want to make sure that you never fall behind on your bills and end up with expensive penalties to pay? The easiest way to get started is to set up some automatic direct debits that take money directly out of your bank account and place them wherever they need to go. At the same time, you can think about creating an automatic transfer that moves money over into a separate savings account at the end of each month. This can be a useful way to make sure that you’re not tapping into your savings for a new home or a family holiday.
3. Plan Your Meals
Everyone has to eat, but constantly spending your money on takeaway and fast food can mean that you end up struggling with your budget. Even over-spending at the supermarket can be a serious problem for some families. So, how do you solve the problem? The simple solution is to start planning your meals. Plan all your lunches and dinners for the week, as well as any snacks you might need for work, or the kids. This will help you to avoid grabbing anything that looks good off the store shelves and stick to your weekly shopping list.
4. Break Your Entertainment Up
You might be bored out of your mind one week and eager to go to the movies with your partner, but if you’ve already spent all of your entertainment budget on a night out with friends at the beginning of the month, then you’re going to struggle to get anywhere without some extra cash out of your budget. A good way to make sure that you don’t go overboard is to spread your expenses out over the month.
In other words, if you know that you typically have a certain amount to spend on entertainment each month, cut it up into weekly budgets instead. This will improve your chances of not blowing all your money in the first week of a new month.
5. Get Rid of the Credit Card
Studies constantly show that people spend a lot more money when they’re using a credit or debit card instead of cold hard cash. The same goes for different forms of credit. The simple reason for this is that it’s much easier to spend money that you can’t see going in and out of your wallet. When you just have to flash a card to pay for something, you can easily overlook the money that you’re actually spending. Don’t let your credit card trick you into spending more money than you can reasonably afford.
6. Use a Budget Buddy
Finally, if you’ve already done all the other things on this list, but you’re still struggling with overspending each month, it’s time to start looking for an accountability partner to help you cut costs. For instance, if you’re married, then that person might be your spouse. You can also look for help from other money-smart people around you, like your mother, or a sibling. You’d be surprised how much better you can do with a little support.