5 simple steps to help you budget…

Last week I asked you what you wanted to see appear on the blog and it was a unanimous win for budgeting advice! So I’ve listened, and here it is…

To be quite honest, this post has been a long time coming – this particular draft having been filed away since December 2018 – crazy I know! I wouldn’t be a budget blog if I didn’t let you in on a few of my secrets, so it seems crazy that I haven’t published this post before today.Although some of these points aren’t really secrets, I feel it’s beneficial to repeat them anyway. And. if you want to find more hints and tips, have a read of my guest post over at The Money Shed.So with the preliminaries out the way, let’s begin…

1. Know your Finances

In-comings, outgoings, and expenditure. 3 horrible words we all dread to hear, but get used to it guys because I’m going to be throwing these words around a lot!You need to know exactly what is going out of your account, when, and how much. Sounds simple and common-sensical but you’d be surprised how many people fail to know this simple information. And it really does help to know this sort of stuff because knowing this off the top of your head will allow you to make more logical decisions about whether you really can afford that morning coffee.Which brings me nicely on to my next step…

Piggy_Bank

2. Budget, Budget, Budget.

I can’t stress this enough. Budgeting is essential to getting a handle on your finances and being able to live within your means. It is a life skill that will really benefit you in the long run and I believe should be taught to everyone from a young age. I’ve learnt through experience that budgeting is a skill you need to start developing now if you don’t have it because the more you do it, the less you’ll realize you’re using it, and the more pennies that will remain in your pocket. When it becomes second nature. you will thank yourself for the hardships and toss any aids aside because you can trust your old friend intuition and know you will save those pennies. But until that day comes, give these little ideas a try…

Try a savings app.

The modern world is an abundant with useful apps and guides so why not carry your budget with you and try a savings app? If you;re not very financially minded then a money saving app may be ideal because it will do all the calculations for you and you won’t have to lift (many) fingers. Just type in all your incomes, out-goings, and expenditure (those 3 words again!) and off you go safely knowing how much you’ve left in your bank.If you’re not a fan of technology, because who wants a budgeting app on their phone right? Why not try going old school.

Try going old school

A pen, some paper, and a calculator works wonders in the world of budgeting. They never let anyone down, and also means that not being technically minded can’t be an excuse for your lack of budgeting!I actually prefer this method when budgeting, purely because I’m a visual learner and prefer to have a hard copy of all important documentation instead of them being on a computer screen. Although I do have an Excel spreadsheet, it hardly gets used. I tend to trust the old fashioned method as it allows me to get (what I call) a proper handle on my finances.To do this I use a budgeting table (inspired by my mum’s) which looks something like this:Budget_Spreadsheet_ExampleI add the dates each bill comes out and how much in the box, then tick it off when it has been paid. This way I gain a sense of accomplishment as well as having a visual representation of my budget.

Start collecting coins.

Like the name suggests pennies make pounds! So why not start collecting a specific coin and keeping them in a jar or piggy bank? A rather old and slow method of saving but still very effective! I myself collect 1p, 2p, and 5p’s because I hate how they weigh down my purse and are pretty useless. But after four years of collecting over university, I managed to acquire £10!I did say it was slow, but still, something is better than nothing!I know people who collect £2 or 50p’s which will obviously get you to your goals quicker, but sometimes it is harder to part with those more useful coins that it is the “duds”.

3. Save Food.

Buy reduced produce.

There’s no shame in going to the supermarket when the prices drop at night, or even heading to the dedicated reduced products section to see what treats they have. Reduced produce is a great way to save a few extra pennies especially if you get your freezer involved!And definitely do not feel ashamed to have a thorough look, I feel even with supermarket efforts to help reduce waste, using the reduced section is somewhat frowned upon. But do not be afraid, the reduced section is full of bargains that can fill up your freezer. My all time favourite bargain was buying 20 bread rolls for 20p!

Reduce food waste.

Buy within your means! But if you don’t, allow somebody else to use what you won’t and download OLIO! I quite like this app and have used it a few times. It’s designed to reduce food waste within the local community between neighbours and stores. Many good fresh food and pantry products can be had especially if you check it regularly.Another interesting idea is Approved Food. I’ve recently discovered this site via Twitter and can’t really give any opinions on it just yet, but it does seem like a good idea. If it works, it will definitely help save all those pennies on everyday items from groceries to toiletries and pet food. If you have tried it (or do try it), let me know in the comments!Approved_Food_Screenshot

4. Bulk Cook!

This is another skill that is integral! I can’t stress enough its importance because I know I’d be lost without it! I’d also be lost without my trusty freezer to keep all my meals safe. A freezer and a bulk meal goes a long way, and spreads those pennies thinner than you could ever imagine.If you’re cooking for yourself, or one other, bulk cooking and freezing is your life saver. If your feeding a family then do not skip this step either because you’ll find life will become easier if you dedicate a Sunday to prepping and freezing all your weekly meals/lunches, especially if you’re going to be run off your feet.Need some inspiration? Look out for a post coming soon where I cook 15 different meals with 3 sauces!

5. Save Energy.

Energy saving bulbs, rechargeable batteries. heating on once a day. Yes, as a student I’ve done it all but you’d be surprised how much these little tricks can save especially if you’re not in your house all the time.I tend to put the heating on a timer in winter and turn it off in summer like many homes. But in winter I tend to use only an hour in the morning of heating so I don’t freeze on my way to the bathroom. Then I tend to be in at different times of the day so if I’m cold I will compensate with blankets, hoodies, and hot water bottles. If I really can’t stomach the cold (which is very rarely) I will decide to put the heating on for an hour (but that’s only in desperate times).I know many don’t need to resort to this level of desperation, but it helps to be aware of how much energy you actually waste – how long the heating is on when you don’t really need it to be, every light switch turned on in rooms not in use, the appliances (especially televisions) that are left on standby, taps that are kept running while brushing your teeth, and the list can continue. It may sound silly and pedantic but these little changes in routine really do make changes to the amount of money in your pocket.I could write infinitely about how to save money in everyday life but for now these 5 steps are easy to implement and are a great way to start your new budgeting life. So enjoy, and start saving!

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