Budgeting Skills and Income expenditure tips.
1. Complete a realistic income and expenditure form for your own use.
You need to be completely honest and list everything coming in and all bills going out. This will then give you a realistic figure that you have left to use as needed for shopping/other non-regular expenses. See Below example:
Wages - £900/month (£225/week)
Child Benefit - £20.70/week
Tax credits - £103.66/week
Housing Benefit - £65.64/week
TOTAL WEEKLY - £415/week (£1660/month)
Rent - £660/month
Council Tax - £100/month
Gas - £35/month
Electric - £25/month
Water - £30/month
TV Licence - £12/month
Sky TV/Phone/Internet - £53/month
Mobile - £17/month
Childcare - £300/month
Travel Costs - £100/month
Debts - £70/month
School Dinners - £45/month
TOTAL MONTHLY - £1447/month (£361.75/week)
£1660 - £1447 = £ 213+
Income minus Expenditure leaves - £213/month or £53.25/week
This £53 is money left to use for anything else.
Including - Food Shopping, Clothes, Shoes, Saving for X-Mas, Toiletries etc....
***The above income/expenditure is based on my own costs (Single parent - one child), I do not drive therefore anyone with a car would need to consider all costs relevant to that also (Tax, MOT, Insurance, Petrol, Maintenance).***
2. Always write a shopping list and stick to it.
Meal plan for the week ahead and write your shopping list to match. Try an include an extra staple item for the cupboard with each shop so you have some stock in for emergencies. Things like tinned tomatoes, beans and Pasta or Rice are great for this as they keep for ages and they are cheap!
The money you lose by those extras you spot walking round the store really add up. If you are someone who can't resist temptation then do your shopping online. If you like to pick your own shopping and see what bargains you may find then Tesco scan as you shop is fantastic! You scan it and pack it and it keeps a running total so you know exactly how much you have spent as you go along and can therefore stay in budget.
***Only get those bargains if it is something you will actually use and won't go out of date before you have the time to eat it!***
3. Sign-up for a cashback site (I recommend www.topcashback.co.uk)
This site is free to join and doesn't cost any extra than you would already be spending. The basic principle is buy what you would normally buy just via the link on the site and they give you money back for going through them to your own retailer.
For example: I was planning to change my home phone/internet provider, so I looked on topcashback first and just got £75 cashback by switching through there link to sky (who I was going to go with anyway).
You can then either save all this cashback and claim it in December ready for Christmas or you can claim it as you earn it and they send it straight into your bank via bank transfer (or send you a cheque if you prefer).
***Most top retailers are listed in their contacts. You can even treat yourself to a take-away via just eat and get cashback on it!***
4. Always shop around when making a large purchase.
My child needs a new bed, I have spent about a month looking for exactly what she wants and found several almost identical beds in various retailers. However the prices have varied from £250 - £750! Never go with the first one you find, always do your research and make sure its exactly what you want (correct colour/style/size) so you don't have to get a load of other new stuff to match! (Now needs matching units as wanted new colour scheme and I have to paint the bedroom walls).
***Be practical and go for items that will last not just the latest fashion***
5. Use a comparison website for things like insurances.
There are many different sites nowadays but comparethemarket.com and moneysupermarket.com are highly reputable ones so much less likely to lead to dodgy links where you may get scammed.
When thinking of switching things like energy supplier or phone provider then uswitch.com is recommended.
***Remember to check for any hidden costs or sign-up fees and variable versus fixed rates***
6. Have a clear out and sell anything you no longer need.
This can include anything but be sensible about prices for what what your selling. Childrens clothes always go down well, include anything that is in good condition with no stains, get it up on facebook selling pages when your little one has grown out of it.
Clear out your own wardrobe too! We all have that Dress/Suit that we wore once and has sat in the back ever since. Get rid!
Appliances and furniture that is in good condition sells well if you don't ask too much. I have seen some very unrealistic prices so think what you would pay for it, ask a friend what they would pay and take an average.
A good rule is:
If you haven't worn it/used it in the last year then realistically your not likely to so sell it on!
Those clothes you don't feel are good enough to sell but are still ok, take them to the charity shop, there could be someone who needs what you don't want. Charity shops are great nowadays and have some fabulous bargains. Need something new yourself? Check out a charity shop first (especially in richer areas, designer clothes super cheap!)
And finally those clothes that you dont even feel you can donate to charity that just take up space in your house......... CASH4CLOTHES!
You may not get a load of money from this but if its between an extra couple quid or dumping at the local tip, I know what I'd go for.
***When you need to buy something, check online facebook pages first too! There are loads so at least one will cover your area. Look for the one with the most members***
7. Plan for the future.
Being on a tight budget is hard and none of us want to let anyone down especially our kids and especially for things like birthday and christmas so plan ahead for them. Work it into your budget. Include a saving amount when you do your income/expenditure form (see point 1).
This year I decided to sort myself out and get organised. I signed up to Park Christmas Catalogues in January and so this year I have been paying a bit each month toward Christmas 2017. Now, it the middle of November they are going to be sending me £300 in lovetoshop vouchers so I can do my christmas shopping.
How? Easy! I sent them just £30 a month or £7.50 a week for the last 10 months, thats how. And you can vary the amount to suit your own budget. Options start at just 50p a week!!!
***As you pay in advance there are no credit checks so even if your in debt/bankrupt they will accept you, and if for any reason you can't pay it all in time, they will send you whatever you have managed to save in the form of vouchers so you can still do shopping even if slightly less than you originally planned.***
8. Be Point Savvy!
Sign up to every point card you can possibly find (Tesco Clubcard, Sainsbury's Nectar card, Morrisons More card, Boots Advantage Card etc....). Do your usual shopping, check for items you normally buy that have bonus points that week (Morrison often send me an email saying shop with us this weekend and we will give you a bonus 5000 points, that’s an extra £5!). Have a quick look online before you shop to see who would be best for your points this week/month. Always use the extra vouchers they send during the year for bonus points and free/discounted items (they normally match these vouchers to things you normally buy).
***All these stores allow you to build up your points. Sign up and save them until Christmas. This year I have an extra £30 at Tesco, £25 at Morrisons and £10 at Sainsbury all saved up in points ready to claim for Christmas.***
9. Kid focused savings...
Buy second hand kids clothes/toys. You can pick up amazing toys and hardly worn clothes by subscribing to your local Facebook ‘sale or swap’ site. You can then sell on the stuff thats too small and recoup costs for the next size up!
If your little one has so many toys they don’t know what to play with first, invest in some plastic storage boxes and put a few toys into each one. Allow your child to have one box to play with and store the rest away. Alternate the boxes every few days and your child is much more likely to play with the toys in the box (it’s like buying them new toys!) and once they outgrow them, sell them on to get new ones. Kids grow too fast to worry about needing new everything all the time. Toys and books are great money makers!
Make your own cards for family members – why spend good money on cards when you could be putting your little one’s artistic talents to good use? Family members would much rather have a personal, bespoke hand drawn card anyway.
Don’t buy too much school uniform, but invest in the right areas. School skirts and trousers should be hardwearing and it’s worth paying a little extra for something that will last. Shirts and polo shirts will be covered in paint, pens and food within a couple of weeks so spend less and be prepared to buy more frequently.
Remember now they are at school, you need much less home clothes too! A couple pairs of jeans/bottoms and a few tops is more than sufficient for weekends...Don’t buy too much school stationery – primary schools generally supply their own. I bought loads in previous years, now she just has her pencil case and a folder or two for homework and reading.
***Always Label school uniform – otherwise it will get lost/mixed up - Sharpie do a clothes marker and its brilliant!***
10. Always Check you are getting the right help.
Do an online benefits calculator check every year to check you are getting what you should. Criteria changes for many extras on a regular basis so even if your weren't entitled last year, check if you are this year!
Search for low income assistance schemes like Warm Home Discount and Free School Dinners on top of the usual free prescription and eye tests. Just type low income scheme into google. There are ones for free white goods, furniture and household items, general grants for emergency situations and many others.
©A1 ESA/DLA/PIP Benefits Help and Support (UK only)