An ever increasing cost of living is driving the need to be able to make, and keep to a sensible budget. In recent years with the rising cost of energy and food alone, never before have we had a greater need to plan our finances to ensure we are not left with too much month at the end of our money.
There are a few handy tips to, not only help you budget, but also save you some money too. When money is tight why throw it away?
Separate your spending money from your bill money
First things first, open a separate account for your bills to go out of. Opening another account with the high street banks generally takes a dip of around 2 points on your credit rating, however if you open a prepaid account there are no credit checks and some act in exactly the same way as a high street bank as they come with their own sort code and account number. Some even offer an instant sort code and account number if you can be verified at the end of your application and can help build your credit rating.
Send all your bill money to your separate account and set up your direct debits and standing orders from this account, that way you know whatever is in your main account is yours to spend for the month and it will help you gain a tighter control over your finances.
Using a budget planner is a great way to see exactly where your money is going and if there is any left over to save for a rainy day. The Money Advice Service have created a fantastic budget planner that you can find here.
Before setting off to do your weekly / monthly shop, make a list of what you already have in your cupboards, fridge and freezer, then compile your shopping list accordingly. This way you will not buy things you already have in the house and are less likely to create as much food wastage.
Also think about what meals you are going to eat that week / month. Planning ahead really helps to make sure you are maximising every penny of your outlay. If you know exactly what you’re going to eat you can plan your shopping list around it so you only buy what you need. Freeze any leftovers using freezer bags rather than Tupperware to make use of every bit of space in your freezer.
It always amazes me how people are reluctant to search for an alternative energy supplier. If your local shop was selling cans of coke for £6 would you still buy from them or would you go and find a shop down the road selling them for 70p? There really is no difference!
Our energy all comes from the National Grid, the only difference to the consumer is who sells it on to us. It is literally a difference in logo at the top of your bill.
If you can save £300 – £400 a year on your energy it is money better off in your pocket than the suppliers. You can also fix the price down and protect yourself against any future price hikes.
The same can be said about your TV or broadband provider. Are they giving you the best deal? You will probably notice that all the best deals are aimed at new customers so don’t let loyalty hit you in the pocket. Most companies will offer a reduced rate for the first 6-9 months meaning you could be quids in!
Do you have any helpful budgeting tips? If so let us know, we’d love to hear your thoughts.