If you’re a new mum or dad, you’ve probably not had a chance to sit down – let alone develop a household budgeting plan.
The good news is, getting to grips with your household bills needn’t take long. In fact, there are plenty of things you can pack into just a half-hour lunch break.
Follow this 30 minute budget makeover once a week, and you should soon have your bills under control.
Don’t be an ostrich
Stop using that scary-looking letter as a mat for your cup of tea! The first thing to do is gather together all your bills, and open them.
Sticking your head in the sand may seem like the more attractive option, but the sooner you see the figures, the sooner you’ll be able to tackle any money troubles head-on.
What are your outgoings?
Next, use an online budget planner to work out how your income compares with your regular bills and expenses.
This budget planner, from the Money Advice Service, is clearly laid-out and easy to use. Once you’ve added all your regular expenses (like utility bills, travel and food costs) it will show you how much money you have left over.
Update your spending diary
Keeping a spending diary is a really effective way to find out where the money ‘leaks’ are.
Take a fresh notebook and write down absolutely everything you spend. That means even noting down small purchases, like a magazine or a cup of coffee.
Then, once a week, take a look back over your spending. You might be surprised how those cups of coffee add up! Once you’ve pinpointed the money leak, you can plug it by cutting back in that area.
Shop around for one financial product
Most of us now have several financial products: A current account, a savings account, utility accounts, various types of insurance and so on.
Competition among financial providers is intense, with the best products changing all the time.
And when it comes to money, loyalty doesn’t usually pay. For example, insurance firms typically offer existing customers higher premiums when it comes to renewal – and save their best offers for people switching from other providers.
So, in your weekly budget makeover, choose one of your financial products and see if it meets your needs, and is the best choice in its category. If it’s not, switch to the one that is!
Make one money-saving swap
Finally, see if you can make one lifestyle swap or change that will save you money. It might be as simple as cycling to work one a day a week, instead of driving. Or perhaps you can buy one takeaway coffee a day, instead of two?
As the weeks go by, these small changes will add up to big savings. And because you’re doing it gradually, the alterations won’t seem quite as painful!