I blogged a couple of weeks ago about how I budget each month and keep control of my finances. Today I want to share a few tips to help you stick to a budget and improve the health of your bank accounts.
1. Take stock of your direct debits
Knowing what money is leaving your account on what days is so important, as it’s almost impossible to stick to a budget without knowing this.
Make a list of all your monthly direct debits and standing orders and note down what days they are paid on. It’s much easier if all your bills leave your account on the same day, to try and get your direct debit payment dates to match up where you can. For me, I like my bills to be paid as close to the beginning of the month as possible.
Make sure your direct debits are all necessary – are you still paying a subscription to an online magazine you never read? Or a gaming service you never use? When I last did an audit of my direct debits I discovered I was paying monthly insurance for a Kindle that broke over two years ago!
2. Cut down on grocery shops
I’m planning a whole separate post on how to save money on groceries but the first step is to limit yourself to one or two grocery shops a week. Popping into the shops every couple of days to pick up dinner is a surefire way to overspend on food – every trip to the supermarket is an opportunity to get seduced by ‘buy one get one free’ offers, and you’ll almost always find yourself buying things you don’t need.
Take it one step further by ordering online, so you can keep an eye on how much you’re spending so you don’t go overbudget. The drawback of online ordering is the delivery charge, so you’ll need to work out which is going to be the best method to help you save money. If you’re someone who struggles with willpower you’ll probably save more money by shopping online, even if you do have to pay for delivery!
3. Enjoy spending your disposable income
Budgets might seem boring and fuddy duddy, so make sure you really enjoy spending your disposable income. That money is there for you to spend on exactly what you want, so don’t let anyone make you feel guilty about what you spend it on. Want to blow it all on mascara, ebooks or cocktails? Go right ahead. Your bills, food, petrol and savings are already accounted for, so why not spend what’s left over on things that make you happy?
4. Start saving for presents
I get a lot of stick from my friends for this one but, I promise you, it’s worth it in the long run! I have a standing order of £20 a month that gets paid into an account I use to buy birthday and Christmas presents with. £20 a month isn’t much and it really adds up throughout the year, so when it’s a friend’s birthday or Christmas is coming up I already have a pot of savings to dip into. It makes December much less stressful, as I already have a big chunk of the money there, instead of having to take it all out of my November pay cheque.
5. Make a finance spreadsheet
This is another one people always take the piss out of but pshhh, it means I always have money left over at the end of month so…yeah. A while ago I stumbled across a personal finance spreadsheet that was so helpful when I started budgeting. If you scroll down on this page you can download the ‘Spreadsheet Budget Planner’, which is a great way to get started.
A spreadsheet allows you to see a breakdown of your finances and outgoings and also helps you forecast for the coming months. If you need to save a certain amount of money by a certain date (for a holiday, for example), a spreadsheet is an easy way to work out how much extra you need to save each month, and how that will impact the rest of your budget.
These are five things I implement every month that are a really big help to me. I hope some of the above tips help you out, too. Let me know, what are you most likely to spend your disposable income on?