Budgeting can mean different things to different people — whether you’re working towards becoming debt-free, budgeting for a low income or saving for that luxury holiday or a new car. However, the end goal of budgeting is always the same — to reach that financial target.
Setting your goal is the easy part, knowing how to get there can be a little more difficult. So take a look at our budget planning tips below and start budgeting your way toward your goals.
What Is Budget Planning?
Taking the first steps into budgeting can seem daunting at first, but it needn’t be! In its simplest form, budget planning is taking your income and subtracting your expenses to find out how much you have left at the end of each month.
Each person will have very different income and expenses, so our amazing team at Debt Movement have made a budget planner template to help you. You can download it here in our e-book, How to Take Control of Your Debt. Don’t be fooled by its title though, as well as amazing debt guidance, this free e-book contains amazing budgeting ideas, a monthly budget template and lots of tips for saving money.
Budgeting doesn’t have to be for a specific purpose other than to ensure that you don’t overspend. For many, though, budgeting is a way of life. When you are already in debt and are having to constantly monitor your spending, it can feel like there’s a dark cloud over you. If you are in debt and feel you need some expert help and guidance to lift that cloud, call Debt Movement today.
Is Budget Planning Right for You?
The truth is, budget planning can be beneficial to everyone. It’s not just for those on a low income or saving for a luxury item. Monitoring your income and expenses along with your general spending can help to reinforce good habits, ensure that you aren’t being wasteful and put you in good stead for the future.
Budget planning can:
- Help you to prioritise your outgoings and monitor your spending.
- Minimise the risk of being “caught short”.
- Help you to avoid getting into debt.
- Help you to get out of debt if you are already in debt.
- Enable you to begin saving money where you may not have realised you could!
Budgeting Ideas for a Low Income
If you’re living on a low income or have recently had an unexpected income change, it is important to look at permanent changes to your outgoings and expenses. Once you have worked out your finances with our monthly budget planner template, you can use this information to see in black and white where you may be able to make some permanent savings.
Save on Utilities
You could be surprised by how much you could save by using a comparison site when you come to the end of your contracted term with your utility suppliers rather than just renewing.
Gas and electricity costs can vary more than you’d expect from one provider to another. Don’t just believe in industry awards and what you read in magazines, energy costs can differ depending on the area that you live in. Try using at least two different comparison sites to ensure that you don’t miss out on a deal! Our favourites are Money Supermarket and Go Compare.
Save on Mobile Phone Bills
Have you been with the same mobile phone network for years? Often, just upgrading and sticking with the same network can feel like the easiest choice, but there are many ways to save money when it comes to your mobile phone bills.
Sim-Only Tariffs — Possibly the cheapest option when you’re with a pay monthly provider is to keep your existing device and drop to a sim-only tariff. Not upgrading your device reduces the monthly cost, and there are a lot of options to choose from in terms of data and call bundles. With some sim-only tariffs being as little as £10 per month, if your device can last another year, then this could be a great way to cut some costs!
Comparison Sites — Sometimes, upgrading directly through the network provider can be more expensive than through a third party or comparison site. Take a look at sites like Uswitch and see if you could shave some money off your monthly bill that way.
Downgrading — If your current mobile phone has seen better days but you don’t mind not having the latest handset when it’s time to upgrade, ask about a tariff with a cheaper alternative. Sometimes almost a third of your monthly bill is made up of the cost of the actual device, so this is a great option for those who don’t feel the need to have the latest iPhone with every upgrade!
Save Money on Broadband
If you’ve come to the end of your contract with your current broadband provider, you have two options — you can stay with them or use a comparison site to find a better deal with a different provider. However, if you’re happy with your current provider but not the cost, it’s always worth calling them to tell them about deals you’ve seen on comparison sites and that you are thinking about leaving. You would be surprised by how much leeway broadband companies have when it comes to customer retention and lowering monthly costs.
Budgeting Ideas for Short-Term Savings
If you are considering budget planning to save up for a luxury item, holiday or even a wedding, you can look at budgeting ideas with a more immediate effect. These can be used in the short term but should also be adopted by those making long-term budget plans as additional ways to cut down on costs.
Save on Food and Grocery Shopping
There are a few ways that you can save on food expenses. The most obvious is to cut down on takeaways and eating out, but that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on great food! Websites like BBC Good Food have amazing “fakeaway” recipe ideas with ingredients you can easily find in your local supermarket.
Staying on budget when you go food shopping can be difficult, especially when you’re surrounded by temptation. Shops are specifically laid out to convince shoppers to purchase products they probably don’t need. Promotional offers can sway us from our strict shopping list, and before you know it, you’ve gone way over budget. So, try shopping online and using delivery or click and collect. That way, you can add only what you need to your basket, double-check you’re getting the best deal and even remove items from your basket if the total begins to climb.
Another way to save on food shopping is to use a meal planner. Planning out your meals week-by-week not only helps you to stick to a budget but also helps to reduce wastage and avoid those “temptation purchases”.
Saving Money on Unnecessary Spending
Seems like common sense to stop buying stuff you don’t need, right? Well, it can be easier said than done, and old habits die hard! So how can we take a look at our unnecessary spending? We know what our monthly regular spending is after doing our monthly budget planner, but where can we cut back even further?
Start by printing out or downloading three months of bank statements and highlighting all of those small spends. A sandwich from the shop, morning coffee on the way into work, a quick drink after work… They all soon mount up until you can be looking at £8-£10 per weekday on small items. That’s £160 per month on things you could certainly do without!
While you have your bank statements to hand, take a look at your other small outgoings, such as subscriptions. Some of these expenses can sneak past you because they go out as card payments or standing orders, so they may not have made it to your outgoings list. These can be things like app subscriptions, magazine or news site subscriptions… Could you live without them for a while until you’ve met your savings goal?
Budgeting Your Way Out of Debt?
All of the budgeting tips and ideas mentioned in this blog can be used to help you with budgeting your way out of debt. Whether you’re working towards paying back your lenders or paying into a debt solution, being financially responsible will lead to becoming financially free.
If you have any questions or concerns about your debt level, why not call Debt Movement or request a free callback? One of our friendly expert guides will be in touch to help you better understand your options.