Whether I’m at work or chatting with friends, I always hear the same complaint when cash is mentioned, “I just don’t know where my money goes!” There was a time I had exactly the same thought but there is an easy solution to track your outgoings.
*obvious suggestion alert* Drawing up a simple budget is the first step in understanding where that hard earned cash floats off to each month. It doesn’t need to be a whopping great spreadsheet filled with formulas and funny symbols, you could just get a pen and paper and jot down exactly how much comes in and what NEEDS to go out.
Be honest when creating your budget, add in all of those niggly expenses like a coffee at the train station, a pack of gum or money for the office lottery syndicate. It all quickly adds up!
Our budget is fairly basic (even if it is now colour coded *hides head in shame/glee*) and ensures we can track of where each pound goes. Here is a handy website that has 10 free budget templates you can download and get filling in, ranging from ‘Super Basic’ to ‘Family Planning’ worksheet. Check out www.savvyspreadsheets.com for loads more hints and tips.
Take a moment to take it all in……
Now that you can see exactly the costs you are dealing with right in front of you, set the time aside to move heaven and earth to reduce these where possible. The biggies tend to be:
- Mortgage- Can you shop around for a cheaper deal but avoid exit fees/penalties?
- Energy – Use comparison sits such as USwitch to see if you can grab savings on your current tariff by switching to a different supplier. Remember to watch out for exit fees here too)
- Water – Take steps to use less each month by installing handy gadgets, get a water butt in the garden to collect rain water and opt for a quick shower rather than baths
- Food – This often accounts for a hefty slice of money. See my ‘Savvy Shopping‘ tab on the front page and subscribe to this blog to keep up to date with tips to reduce costs.
- Debts – If your debt is on credit cards, see if you can shop around to transfer it to a 0% deal. Even if you have a poor credit rating, there are some good offers around.
Don’t beat yourself up if you go over budget in certain departments just see if you can pull the cash from another area for that month without leaving you short or in debt. Budgets can be, dare I say it, fun. They can also be inspiring to get you to where you want to be financially or even reveal extra cash you didn’t think you had! Bonus.
Remember to allow yourself some ‘spending money’ to keep you motivated, especially if you are paying off debts. Having a small amount to spend on yourself each month can be the difference between staying on track or jacking it all in!
Do you have a budget? Do you always stick to it?