Our January 2018 Budget Report

Our January m Monthly Budget Report Bunchy the Budgeteer

It’s time again for me to share with you our monthly budget report. Can you believe it’s now February? I’m sure time moves faster as we get older! 

From a financial point of view, January can be a difficult month. Excesses in Christmas spending and a spike in credit card borrowing can leave many people feeling the pinch when January arrives. You can change this, though.
 
By designing a realistic budget focused on careful spending and saving, you’ll find that one month holds no more money stress than any other. Make sure, if you can, to make some room in your budget for some of life’s little pleasures too!
 
You can’t protect yourself from every unexpected expense (just look at our miscellaneous category!) but by making and following a budget, you can really reduce your money worries.
 

Here’s Where January’s Income Went…

For new readers: I use percentages, instead of monetary amounts. This is both to respect my husband’s wish to keep our income private and in case you want to compare how much of your income goes to your own categoriesAs your income will be different to mine, me using percentages should be more helpful to you.
 

Our January Income Had a 3.6% Boost Because We:

  • sold our old car for scrap.
  • accumulated Nectar points (which we put towards our grocery shopping, enabling us to use the cash we saved, to treat ourselves to a takeaway pizza!).
takeaway pizza image
Photo by Kristina Bratko on Unsplash

January’s Outgoings and Our Monthly Budget Categories:

 
(Shown in percentages of January’s total income, rounded up or down to keep things simple)
 

Mortgage: 25%

Council tax: 6.7%

Gas and electricity: 3.6%

Water: 2.5%

Groceries (Includes food, toiletries, and household needs): 8.7%

We have a tiny sum left in our grocery budget. As this category is tight, we’ll roll the surplus over into next month’s grocery budget.
 

Internet and landline: 1%

Life assurance: 1.4%

Mobile phone bills: 0.5%

My dental insurance: 0.6%

Mortgage overpayment: 0%

Pensions (besides to the small automatic deduction from Mr B’s wage): 0%

calculator and paper with monthly budget report

Sinking funds: 14%  

From these sinking funds, we spent 9.3% of our total January income on:

– our annual VPN subscription.

– unexpected dental treatment for Mr B.

– a new light bulb pack for our car and sealant to try to repair where water is getting in.

– birthday and late Christmas gifts (and experiences) for family members.

– a second-hand window vacuum.

Holiday savings: (‘vacation’ ) 7.2%

We’re excited because it’s the first time in a few years that we’ve been able to save towards a holiday!
couple sat on boat deck
Photo by Evren Aydin on Unsplash
 

Emergency fund savings: 18%

This month we completed our goal of having six months of expenses saved in our emergency fund! It’s been a hard slog. Yes, we’ve gone without, but the peace of mind is worth it. I’d be more secure with more put away, but if we don’t switch to investing soon, we’ll be looking at a difficult retirement.
 

Personal spending money (which has to cover clothing, haircuts, makeup, and gifts for each other on special occasions): 8.6%

I haven’t written about where our personal allowances go every month, but tell me if you want me to show you how I spend MINE.
 

Petrol: 1.4%

Miscellaneous buffer: With January’s income, our total miscellaneous spend was 3.4%. That’s  four times what we set aside for unplanned expenses! This was due to paying for:

– the final vet bill for the cat we cared for.

– taxis to work for Mr B.

Mr B cycles to work in the finer weather and I drive him during the colder and wetter months. This week, though, I’ve been ill with yet another cold and complications of Crohn’s disease.
 
bicycle propped up against settee
Photo by Yulia Chinato on Unsplash
When we ran out of money in the miscellaneous category, we covered the overspend from the grocery and household categories. Not ideal, but no debt incurred.
 
When looking at how much and where you’re spending money each month, remember that your life and requirements will be very different to ours. Sharing our budget gives you insight into how we budget and may give you ideas for your own.
 
So, how was January for you? Are you experiencing the post-Christmas pinch? My waistband is pinching! How do you divide up your money each month? Do you need to make a budget?
 
I love hearing from you and want to grow this community. Don’t be shy! Comment, contribute to the Facebook page, send me a private message or all three! I will always try to help you.
 
Lisa aka ‘Bunchy’

Our December Budget – How Did We Do? – Christmas Edition

Hands holding smartphone by laptop - Five Possible Solutions to Crippling Debt – Part Three - Individual Voluntary Agreements

Christmas is over for another year but now is actually a good time to touch on Christmas budgets.

It feels like ages since I’ve written a proper blog post. Like many people, I took advantage of the Christmas period by spending quality time with family and relaxing.

I have lots of blog posts in my head for 2018 but first wanted to share how our monthly budget went. This is for your entertainment, encouragement, (or to compare with – and be glad that you’re doing better!).

For anyone who celebrates any of the winter festivals (be it Christmas, Hanukkah, Eid, etc,) you no doubt encountered costs that fell outside your typical monthly budget. We’re no different, How we all manage those additional costs will vary, however.

For new readers, you’ll see that I use percentages, rather than monetary amounts. This is both to respect my husband’s wish to keep our income private  (it’s a low income) and to give a better comparison, per category, for whatever size budget you’re working with.

Christmas Budgets
Image by Bunchy The Budgeteer

Here’s How It Went for Us

Mr.B’s wages were on the lower than usual side, due to him having some sick days in December.

December’s Outgoings and Our Monthly Budget Categories – (shown in percentages of December’s net/after-tax income) :

  • Mortgage: 23%
  • Council tax: 6.3%
  • Gas and electricity: 3.4%
  • Water: 2.4%
  • Groceries: (Includes food, toiletries, and household needs) 8.8%
  • Internet and landline: 1%
  • Life assurance: 1.3 %
  • Mobile phone bills: 0.5 %
  • My dental insurance: 0.6%
  • Mortgage overpayment: 0%
  • Pensions: 0.3% (In November 2017 Mr.B was been enrolled in his workplace pension. The amount taken from his wages is the compulsory minimum required. The percentage we’ll be adding when actively investing in our pension funds will be higher).
  • Holiday savings: (‘vacation’) 0%
  • Emergency fund savings: 31%
  • Personal spending money (has to cover clothing, haircuts, makeup, and gifts for each other on special occasions): 8.1%.
  • Petrol: 1.3%
  • Miscellaneous/unexpected buffer: In relation to December’s income, our total miscellaneous spend was 0.8%.
  • Sinking funds: (the linked article explains these): 12.5% allocated to our short-term savings.
  • 7.5% of our total December income was then spent from the sinking funds on the following:
    1. Some Christmas and January birthday gifts.
    2. A new hot-water bottle and cover!
Our December Budget – How Did We Do? – Christmas Edition
Image by Bunchy The Budgeteer

Now, I have to say that the percentage we spend on Christmas gifts is much lower than your average family. That’s due to:

 

  1. As a couple, we don’t celebrate Xmas, yet have felt obliged by our family to get involved, even on a small scale.
  2. The gifts we buy for each other come from our individual ‘allowances’, so that doesn’t show up in the figures.
  3. My mother-in-law puts together the most amazing hamper for us each year. While it’s not food for ‘proper’ meals, it’s packed with ‘naughty’ food and plenty of booze!
  4. I’d predict that we spend less than half on gifts for people than what the average person spends. We only buy for parents/step-parents, my grandmother, and our 10 nephews and nieces.

December 2018 will be different. We’ve decided that December 2017 was the last year that we celebrate Christmas at all. We haven’t yet told all the family. My mother-in-law has insisted that she still wants to give us a hamper because it brings her joy. I’m not going to rob her of that. We aren’t doing it for monetary reasons. The money we would allocate to the people we buy gifts for will go towards their birthday instead. This means we’ll be spending the same amount on each person, but yearly rather than twice yearly.

How was December for you? How do you divide up your budget? Do you need to make a budget? Did you spend more than you’d intended? If so, why? I’d love to know how everyone else did.


You may also be interested in reading: ‘How to Save Money on Christmas 2017‘, ‘A Peek into Our Monthly Budget‘, which is the template we use each month, ‘Are You Within The Recommended Guidelines For Your Monthly Expenses?‘, and ‘Money – Where On Earth Should I Begin?


I love hearing from you and want to grow this community that is gradually getting bigger. Don’t be shy! Comment, contribute to the Facebook page, send me a private message or all three! I will always try to help you.


Lisa a.k.a ‘Bunchy’

Happy New Year! Better Money Habits for 2018

Happy New Year budgeteers! Are you ready for some better money habits for 2018?

There’s nothing like a fresh year to form new and healthy habits. That includes your financial health.

What new habits do you want to form? Are there some less-than-helpful money habits you’d like to get rid of? How about making 2018 the year you finally commit to:

  •  Getting out of debt?
  •  Saving a percentage of your income each month?
  •  Making and FOLLOWING a realistic budget?
  • Cutting back on unnecessary retail therapy?
  • Cooking at home more and ordering fewer takeaway meals?

Whatever your financial goals for 2018, I’m here to encourage you along the way and share MY wins and fails too.

I’d like to thank everyone who has supported me with the Bunchy The Budgeteer blog in 2017.  I have exciting plans for the blog in 2018 and shall strive to offer you valuable content over the next 12 months.

Normal blog posts shall resume on Thursday the 4th of January.

I love hearing from you and want to grow this community that is gradually getting bigger. Don’t be shy! Comment, contribute to the Facebook page, send me a private message or all three! I will always try to help you.

Lisa a.k.a ‘Bunchy

Our November 2017 Budget – How Did We Do?

Our November 2017 Budget - How Did We Do?

It’s a little late, but I said I’d show you how our November budget went and how we did, so here it is!

November was an unusual month. We’ve been looking after a neighbourhood cat whose owners were unable to pay his vet bills. The poor cat had been wanting to spend a lot of time at ours. With me being a qualified Veterinary Nurse, I was quick to see that something was wrong with him. Three vet visits, medications, sedation, and blood tests revealed that he was F.I.V positive. and he had to be euthanised at the beginning of December. It broke our hearts, but we don’t begrudge paying the bills.

We can’t afford to have an animal of our own full-time. Our income will reduce in April unless I can make a success of a home business I am working on. It’s important to us to have our animals insured and to have the best food and veterinary care. With this in mind, we’re not yet able to fit this into our monthly budget. Others may think we were mad to use our Emergency Fund savings on an animal that wasn’t even ours. There wasn’t a moment of hesitation for us though and we knew that it wasn’t going to be an ongoing cost. it highlights what I’ve said before, that personal finance is personal.

 3.1% of our November income was extra income from selling some stuff from around the house. One of the items sold included our secondhand PlayStation. We’d bought the PlayStation by selling our secondhand Wii. We’d bought the Wii from selling other household items. You get the picture of how we usually manage to buy ourselves ‘new’ things!

Our November income was also bumped up 9.9% above the usual amount by receiving an ‘extra’ government payment. This was because one of the two months of the year when, due to receiving my payments fortnightly, I receive three instead of the usual two payments per month.

Our November 2017 Budget - How Did We Do?
Image Photo by Volkan Olmez on Unsplash

 

November’s Outgoings and Our Monthly Budget Categories – (shown in percentages of November’s total income) :

 

  • Mortgage: 20.3%

  • Council tax: 5.5%

  • Gas and electricity: 3%

  • Water: 2.1%

  • Groceries: (Includes food, toiletries, and household needs.) 10%

This was more than we usually spend on groceries. We had some money left over from October’s grocery budget and spent that. If we’d have been frugal and used the usual amount, we could’ve put the extra amount to our Emergency Fund savings. Yet, we’re human and it was a tough month. I was ill with a cold (which I’m still fighting and now Mr.B has gone down with it). So we were lazy and treated ourselves to a couple of takeaways. We also threw some of the cat products we had to buy into our grocery bill, rather than take more from our Emergency Fund.

 

  • Internet and landline: 0.9%

  • Life assurance: 1.2%

  • Mobile phone bills: 0.5%

I went over on my mobile phone bill and so covered the overage with my personal allowance.

 

  • My dental insurance: 0.5%

  • Mortgage overpayment: 0%

  • Pensions: 0.9%

Mr.B has now been enrolled in his workplace pension. This is the compulsory amount that came out of his wages. The percentage we’ll be adding when actively invest in our pension funds will be higher.

 

  • Sinking funds (the linked article explains these): 11% allocated to our short-term savings.

5.8% of our total November income was then spent from the Sinking Funds on the following:

  • Our six-monthly dental check-up. I will get back half of what we spent, as I have dental insurance.
  • Some winter car items and we got a punctured repair on one of our car tyres.
  • A couple of Christmas and birthday gifts.
  • Some new and second-hand items for the office and kitchen.
  • Holiday savings: (‘vacation’ to U.S. readers) 0%

  • Emergency fund savings: 34%

  • Personal spending money (has to cover clothing, haircuts, and makeup): 7.1%

  • Petrol: 1.1%

  • Miscellaneous buffer: In relation to November’s income, our total miscellaneous spend was 4.5%.

4.5% is almost seven times the amount we usually allocate for unplanned expenses! This was due to caring for the cat. We added to the miscellaneous category from our Emergency Fund as the expenses arose.

 So there it is! Not a typical month by any means, but we managed. We were still able to put a decent amount towards our Emergency Fund. This was mostly due to November’s income being higher than average, thank goodness!

How was November for you? How do you allocate your budget? Do you need to make a budget? I’d love to know.

You may also be interested in reading: ‘A Peek into Our Monthly Budget, which is the template we use each month, ‘Are You Within The Recommended Guidelines For Your Monthly Expenses?,  and ‘Money – Where On Earth Should I Begin?

 

I love hearing from you and want to grow this community that is gradually getting bigger. Don’t be shy! Comment, contribute to the Facebook page, send me a private message or all three! I will always try to help you.

 Lisa a.k.a ‘Bunchy’

What Are Sinking Funds and Why Do I Need Them?

Have You Ever What Are Sinking Funds and Why Do I Need Them?

Have you ever heard of ‘Sinking Funds‘? If not, then you may be wondering what they are. Your next question may be whether you need them.

Sinking funds are savings for expenses you expect to encounter, but don’t know when. They may also cover infrequent events that don’t occur each pay period, such as Easter.

When setting up your Sinking Funds, you have various choices:

  • You may decide to use separate bank accounts for each sinking fund.
  • You may keep the money in jars at home. This isn’t the safest idea for anything other than small sums of money.
  • You may want to lump all your savings together in one place. We do this and keep track of what money belongs to what fund/purpose on a spreadsheet, but a notebook would do.

What you decide to save for will vary from what we or any other person saves for. Certain things will be the same, for example, if you also buy gifts for people at Christmas. You may have children’s costs to consider, whereas we don’t. The key is to think of all the irregular costs that catch you out and destroy your regular monthly budget. Try to include those things.

Fun Fact (from Wikipedia):

‘The sinking fund was first used in Great Britain in the 18th century to reduce national debt. While used by Robert Walpole in 1716 and effectively in the 1720s and early 1730s, it originated in the commercial tax syndicates of the Italian peninsula of the 14th century, where its function was to retire redeemable public debt of those cities.’

Our Sinking Funds have saved our skin and our budget many a time! Here’s what we put money by for each month:

  • Home insurance premium (buying it yearly works out cheaper than monthly premiums).
  • Car tax (buying it yearly works out cheaper than paying for it more frequently).
  • Car insurance premium (buying it yearly works out cheaper than monthly premiums).
  • Breakdown cover.
  • M.O.T. & servicing.
  • Sight tests every two years.
  • Boiler service.
  • Six-monthly dental checks.
  • Prescriptions.
  • Unexpected dental bills.
  • Car repairs, parts & tyres.
  • Gifts (birthdays and Christmas gifts for family. We buy for each other out of our personal allowances).
  • House renovations and items.
Do you save regular amounts of money each week or month for costs that you know will come up? What do you save for? I’d love to hear.
 

I love hearing from you and want to grow this community that is gradually getting bigger. Don’t be shy! Comment, contribute to the Facebook page, send me a private message or all three! I will always try to help you.

Lisa a.k.a ‘Bunchy’

A Peek into Our Monthly Budget

A Peek into Our Monthly Budget

Last month I wrote a post called ‘Are You Within The Recommended Guidelines For Your Monthly Expenses?‘. It covered advice on the ideal allocation of income within a budget, as percentages. E.g. How much of your income to spend on housing, etc.

I thought you guys might find it interesting to see how we divide our money month to month.

Due to having budgeted for so long, I pretty much know how much money we need to put into each category every month. Due to this, we have an ‘ideal’monthly budget template that we begin with and this is what I’m going to share further on.

This month (or even last month!) hasn’t been ideal, as we’ve had a TON of unplanned and emergency expenses. If you’re human, you’ll know what I mean. You may start with good intentions and then BAM! It all goes Pete Tong (that’s ‘wrong’ for those not familiar with Cockney rhyming slang). I’ll be sharing our expensive October and November with you at the end of the month.

Our Income

Mr.B is not on board with me sharing our exact numbers. To show you how we divide our income, I’ll have to use percentages.

There are many conflicting pieces of data about what the average income is. We’re a two-person household. Yet, our income is lower than the median average 2017 individual UK salary. I’m not basing that on the ridiculous sources where the mean average gets used. Mean averages take into account a few earners receiving huge salaries. Most people will never have those incomes.

Our income consists of Mr.B’s wage, my very small government help (due to medical conditions). We also receive a small amount of money from somebody paying us back for a loan, plus a £3 a month reward from our bank. At times we may get extra money if we sell something we no longer want, but otherwise, that’s it.

NB: Twice a year I receive three government payments instead of the usual two payments per month. This is due to receiving my government help on a fortnightly basis. If you get paid every two weeks, this will happen to you too.

Our Outgoings and Our Monthly Budget Categories – (shown in percentages of monthly income) :

  • Mortgage: 23.1% 

  • Council Tax: 6.3%

  • Gas and electricity: 3.4%

  • Water: 2.4%

  • Groceries: (Includes food, toiletries, and household needs.) 8.2%

  • Internet and landline: 0.8%

  • Life assurance: 1.3%

  • Mobile phone bills: 0.5%

  • My dental insurance: 0.6%

  • Mortgage overpayment: 0%

  • Pensions: 0%

  • Sinking funds (the linked article explains these): 12.5%

  • Holiday savings:  (‘vacation’ to U.S. readers0%

  • Emergency fund savings: 30.8%

  • Personal spending money (has to cover clothing, haircuts, and make-up): 8%

  • Petrol: 1.3%

  • Miscellaneous buffer: 0.8%

Some of the above categories need some deeper explanation, but I’ll go into that in future posts.

Your own allocations will likely be very different to ours. That’s because it’s likely that you’re in a different financial situation.

Remember that things are always changing for most of us. For example, I have plans to begin a home business providing online services. If I can manage this with my health limitations, then our income will increase. Yay!

But, next Spring, our income is going to reduce. Also, we’ll have (all being well) completed our Emergency Fund and begun investing. This is why, though a budget template is useful, all our circumstances can and will change.

Where is your money going every month? Take a moment to find out and ask yourself if you’re happy with what you discover. Are you meeting your financial goals? Do you need to set some goals?

I love hearing from you and want to grow a community. Don’t be shy! Comment, contribute to the Facebook page, send me a private message, or all three! I will always try to help you.

Lisa a.k.a ‘Bunchy’

Websites and Apps to Save You Money

Websites and Apps to Save You Money

Last month I told you about ‘Top 10 Apps and Websites That Earn You Money‘.

Today I’m sharing eight websites and mobile phone apps that can save some of your hard-earned cash. I use every single one of them.

So, in no particular order, here are some great websites and apps to save you money:

Petrolprices.com
Photo by Scott Rodgerson on Unsplash

1) Petrolprices (app and website)

Petrolprices is a great service that I’ve used for a couple of years. It helps me to save money on petrol, by showing me the cheapest petrol in my area, for that week, via an email update. That’s how I use it, but the website (and now, app) offer much more than that.

Petrolprices.com compares UK petrol and diesel prices in 8,490 stations. They boast a 98% coverage of the UK market. It’s updated daily, 365 days a year. Petrolprices.com receive approximately 8,000 daily updates. This ensures that their data is accurate and up to date.

The available plans are: Basic, Plus and Business

I use the basic, free service, which includes:

  • A search function by fuel type and radius of your search (finding you the cheapest fuel, wherever you are).
  • Information on the lowest and average fuel prices for every station in your location.
  • One user per account.
  • The option of a daily, every weekday, twice weekly, weekly, or monthly email price alert.
  • 20 free monthly searches (which is adequate for 98% of users).
  • Five petrol station results per search
  • The option to filter by cheapest stations.
  • A five, 10, and 25-mile search radius.
  • An option of further searches at a cost of £1 per 10 searches.

(The free membership remains free because it contains adverts.)

I also enjoy the articles in the ‘news’ section of the newsletter email I receive (also on the website).
There are regular motoring-related articles as well as money-saving motoring guides.

If you want extra features, then consider the Plus plan (or, if you’re a business, the Business plan) below:

The Plus Plan:

(A 14-day free trial is available.)

£2 per month (though you can save 17% by signing up for an annual plan).

100 monthly searches

10 results per search

Five price alerts per email

Completely ad-free

Two to 30-mile search radius

Priority support

One user per account

Fuel route planner

Filter fuel by brand

The option to filter by cheapest AND nearest stations.

View all stations

Pay £2 to get 100 more searches

 

The Business Plan:

£12 per month (Save 17% with an annual plan)

500 monthly searches

10 results per search

10 price alerts per account

Completely ad-free

Two to 30-mile search radius

Priority support

10 user accounts permitted

Fuel route planner

Filter by brand

Sort by nearest stations

View all stations

Pay £10 to get 500 more searches

The following extra services are available for Plus and Business members only:

Route Planner:

This allows you to put in a start and end destination. The planner then tells you the cheapest/nearest stations available along your route.

Rewards:

Get discounted offers and exclusive rewards on everyday motoring costs. Have the ability to earn fuel on everyday motoring purchases. (The ‘Fuelback’ programme.).

Sign up at petrolprices.com or download the Petrolprices Fuel Finder App.
Google Play rating: 3.2. Available for Android and iOS device users.

The app looks handy for unfamiliar places, as it allows you to find the cheapest or nearest fuel stations. It’s available for Basic, Plus and Business users.


BoobkBub.com
Image courtesy of Dreamstime.com

2) BookBub (website or app, but the app is only available for iOS device users).

I love this site! To date, I’ve scored 119 free books (of high user rating) and stored them on my phone via the Google Play book app. It’s also available on Kobo and Nook and is available on both Android and iPad.

Get signed up for free and chose your favourite genres and authors. Then, every day you’ll receive an email informing you of free and very discounted ebooks. You’re not obliged to ever buy anything unless you want to. The best part is that any books you get for free remain yours forever!

If you’ve chosen to follow an author whose books become discounted, BookBub will alert you. The same if the authors have new releases or books available to preorder.

BookBub makes money by publishers and authors paying them for their marketing tools.

Here is BookBub’s book category (it’s pretty extensive!):

  • Bestsellers.
  • Crime Fiction.
  • Psychological Thrillers.
  • Cosy Mysteries.
  • Historical Mysteries.
  • Thrillers.
  • Supernatural Suspense.
  • Action and Adventure.
  • Contemporary Romance.
  • Historical Romance.
  • Romantic Suspense.
  • New Adult Romance.
  • Paranormal Romance.
  • Erotic Romance.
  • Dark Romance & Erotica.
  • Sports Romance.
  • Time Travel Romance.
  • American Historical Romance.
  • Historical Fiction.
  • Women’s Fiction.
  • Literary Fiction.
  • Chick Lit.
  • Christian Fiction.
  • LGBT.
  • African American Interest.
  • Science Fiction.
  • Fantasy.
  • Horror.
  • Teen and Young Adult.
  • Children’s.
  • Middle Grade.
  • Advice and How-To.
  • Biographies and Memoirs.
  • History.
  • Cooking.
  • Christian Nonfiction.
  • Science.
  • Politics and Current Events.
  • Religion and Spirituality.
  • Parenting.
  • True Crime.
  • Business.

Sign up at www.bookbub.com or download the app.
App Store rating: 4+


Greggs Rewards
Photo by Janita Sumeiko on Unsplash

3) Greggs Rewards (app)

Although I’m not a frequent visitor to Greggs bakery, I downloaded the app and joined for its freebies. If you do frequent Greggs, then you’ll get even more from using the app.

Once you have the app installed you’re eligible for the following:

Free Coffees:
For every seven coffees you buy, you get your eighth one free!

Prize Draw:
Every month five people win £50 in their prize draw.

Birthday Treats:
My favourite! On or around your birthday, you’ll get notified that you can choose a free treat. Yum!

VIP Tasters:
Every so often you’ll be able to pick up a free item to try, such as a bag of popcorn or a soft drink.

You can choose to use the app to pay for your regular Greggs purchases by topping it up by card or PayPal. If you chose this way of paying, then the first time you top up by £10 or more Greggs rewards you with a free breakfast!

Visit www.greggs.co.uk for more information and to download the app.
Google Play rating 2.9 (App Store rating 4+).


HotUKDeals
Photo by Neil Cooper on Unsplash

4) Hotukdeals (website and app)

I’m pretty sure that my husband can’t stop looking at this site (it could be worse). Not only have we used it many times to grab fantastic bargains, but only today I used it to bag a free eye test!

It works by normal people discovering and submitting deals for everyone to make use of.

It’s a real community and gets very funny at times in the forums. ‘Deal hunters‘ vote to decide which deals are ‘hot‘ and which are not.

When you join up you’ll see deals, voucher codes, competitions, and freebies. There’s also an ‘Ask’ section (an advice forum).

Categories of deals include:

  • Audiovisual.
  • Computers.
  • Entertainment.
  • Fashion.
  • Gaming.
  • Groceries.
  • Home & Garden.
  • Kids.
  • Mobiles.
  • Personal Finance.
  • Restaurants.
  • Sports & Fitness.
  • Travel.
  • Misc.

You can filter results to hide deals only available in other peoples’ local areas so it’s relevant to you.

You can also filter by:

  • Price.
  • ‘Min temperature’ (of a deal).
  • Hide expired deal.
  • Hide NSFW (‘not safe for work’) deal images.
  • Switch custom listing on.
  • Hide local deals.

The list of retailers is enormous and includes:
eBay, Asda, Very, Currys, New Look, Homebase, Sainsbury’s, and Amazon.

Check out: www.hotukdeals.com or download the app.
Google Play rating 4.4 (no App Store rating).


mySupermarket.com
Photo by Kai Oberhäuser on Unsplash

5) mySupermarket (website and app)

mySupermarket is a free to use, independent price comparison site. They boast that they save shoppers, on average, 30% on each grocery shop.

mySupermarket collects prices from the main UK supermarkets (and other retailers). The site’s updated every day with the latest available prices, promotions, and vouchers.

To use it, choose the retailer you wish to shop with and use the mySupermarket website to do your online shop. While you shop, mySupermarket compares your basket to all the other retailers. You then have the option to switch your basket to the cheaper retailer or take advantage of product swaps to save money.

The thing I love most about the website is the ability to filter my product search by comparing Price Per Unit (PPU). That way, I know that I’m getting the very best value for my money.

For example, you see pasta sauce jar ‘A’ priced at 95p for 500g and jar ‘B’ priced at £1.10 for 700g. You might think the cheaper one is the better deal. Yet when you discover jar A is 19p per 100g and jar B is only 15.7p per 100g, you’ll see that you get more value with the larger jar. This is only better value if you’ll use all the larger product of course!

mySupermarket has some great extra features, such as:

‘Import Favourites’:

Do you already shop online at a particular supermarket? You can import your favourite items from your online shopping list to mySupermarket.

‘Quick Shop’:

Type your shopping list into the ‘Quick Shop’ notepad and mySupermarket will show options for the items you need. You can find this feature in the form of the quick shop button next to the search bar.

‘Savvy Shop’:

The ‘Savvy Shop‘ shelf displays products which are at least 30% less than their usual, average price.

‘Swap & Save’:

While you’re shopping you’ll get notified when you can swap an item for a cheaper alternative. You’ll get notified too if you can save more by choosing a product with a better unit price.

Once you’ve finished your shopping list, either check-out via your chosen supermarket or print off your list and shop in-store.

Retailers available for comparison on mySupermarket:

  • Tesco
  • Morrisons
  • ASDA
  • Sainsbury’s
  • Boots
  • Superdrug
  • Waitrose
  • Ocado
  • Aldi
  • Lidl
  • Poundland
  • Iceland
  • Marks & Spencer
  • Amazon
  • Poundstretcher

Sign-up at: www.mysupermarket.co.uk or download the app.
Google Play rating: 4.1 and App Store rating of 4+


Asda Price Guarantee
Image courtesy of Dreamstime.com

6) Asda Price Guarantee (website)

Asda promises that if your ‘comparable’ grocery shopping isn’t 10% cheaper than Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, or Waitrose, then they’ll guarantee to give you the difference back.

To be eligible, you have to meet the following criteria:

You need an Asda Groceries Home Shopping account to claim your vouchers. You don’t have to have done an online shop. Items bought in-store still qualify.

You need to have purchased at least eight different items. One of these of must also be available in Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, or Waitrose.

How to Claim:

If you shopped in store, you can usually check your shop three hours after your shop. In some circumstances, you may not be able to check until 6 am the day after your shop. The Asda Price Guarantee site will notify you of this, if so.

You need the barcode on your receipt to check your shop. Log into your Asda Groceries Home Shopping Account on asdapriceguarantee.co.uk. Enter the receipt barcode number and if you qualify for a voucher, you print it off and use it in-store. (excluding Asda petrol stations) before the expiry date on the voucher.

You MUST show your original receipt along with the voucher when you get to the checkout. If you don’t, you won’t be able to use the voucher. Your original receipt gets signed with the initials of the Asda cashier and then returned to you.

You can compare your shop up to 28 days after you made your purchases.

If you shopped online, you need to wait up to 24 hours from your shopping delivery before you can compare it. As with in-store shopping, you can compare your online shop up to 28 days after you made your purchases. You can also view and compare your last three online shopping orders at any one time.

If your shop qualifies, an e-voucher gets uploaded to your account within seven days. You can then use the e-voucher towards a future Asda online shop.

You have 28 days from the date you received a voucher to use it.

Per household, there is a limit of 10 vouchers per calendar month or a value of £100 in vouchers per calendar month. If a voucher takes the amount you have received in a calendar month to more than £100, you won’t receive any more than £100.

You can use as many Asda Price Guarantee vouchers as you want in a transaction. Other types of vouchers that Asda accepts are also permitted alongside them.

The Asda Price Guarantee voucher can only be used once per transaction and there isn’t a cash alternative. If the value of the voucher is more than what you shopping amount costs, you won’t receive any change or credit back.

As well as not being redeemable in Asda petrol stations, the vouchers cannot be used in transactions with any third parties who operate at Asda in-store concession points (such as photo processing). Nor can vouchers be redeemed against:

  • Kiosks (including Tobacco, Newspapers, and Magazines).
  • Lottery.
  • Gift Cards.
  • Mobile Phone Top-Up Cards.
  • Infant Formula.
  • Optical.
  • Prescriptions.

To find out more, check out: www.asdapriceguarantee.co.uk


Costa Coffee Club
Photo by Nolan Issac on Unsplash

7) Costa Coffee Club (website and app)

Although I’m not a big coffee drinker, I do, on occasion, find myself visiting Costa coffee shops. Seeing that a loyalty card was available, I picked it up and have always used it.

At some point, I discovered that Costa had a smartphone app. This replaces the need to carry a loyalty card, so I downloaded it.

Whether you chose to carry a card or download the app, the Costa Coffee Club is worth signing up for. Back in August, I visited Costa with a friend and her husband. I couldn’t believe it when the barista told me that I had enough points to pay for everything!

The loyalty programme gives you five points for every £1 you spend and each point is worth 1p. If you’re a regular Costa customer your points will mount up in no time.

Costa Coffee Club isn’t only about collecting points. By becoming a member you can get free treats, bonus rewards, exclusive offers, and get alerted to secret events. Oh, and unlimited WiFi! Plus, when you download and register with the app you get 100 bonus points! So if you’re already a cardholder it’s worth signing up for a new account if only to bag your points.

The app can also be used to:

• Track your points balance to see when you have enough for a free coffee or treat.
• Find details of your nearest Costa stores including directions, details, opening times and facilities.

(Unfortunately, the Costa app is not currently available for use in Northern Ireland).

Register at www.costa.co.uk/coffee-club or download the app for Android or iOS.
Google Play rating: 3.4. App Store rating 4+


CheckoutSmart
Photo by Ramiro Mendes on Unsplash

8) CheckoutSmart (website and app)

This is another app that I use often and LOVE.

You download the app, sign up, buy any of the featured products listed in the app, upload a copy of your receipt (or delivery note) and get rewarded.

Once your receipt gets processed you’ll receive an e-mail confirming your reward. You’ll be able to see this in your CheckoutSmart account balance.

Unfortunately, all the products are brand name goods. Though we tend to buy shop’s own brands, I use it to buy the ‘free‘ items. I have to pay for these items at the time of shopping, but I can claim it back. This means that I’m getting to try products for free. Even if they’re items we won’t use, we can either give it away to friends and family who WILL use it or donate it to the food bank.

I’ve only ever used CheckoutSmart to shop in-store, but you can also use it for online shopping.

Retailers involved include:

  • Tesco
  • Sainsbury’s
  • Asda
  • Morrisons
  • Waitrose
  • Ocado.com
  • Co-op
  • Iceland
  • M&S
  • Aldi
  • Lidl
  • Budgens
  • Londis
  • Spar
  • Boots
  • Superdrug
  • Wilkinson
  • WH Smiths

Be aware that there’s a processing fee of 5% if you transfer out any reward amount under £20. I like to wait until my balance is at least £20 before I cash it out. I want ALL my money, thank you very much!

You can only have one CheckoutSmart account yourself. More than one account per household is ok but no more than two CheckoutSmart accounts can be linked to a single payment (BACS/PayPal) account.

You can redeem several offers in one receipt and you can upload up to three receipts per day.

Some offers are available only to you. To ensure that you can view the full list of offers available you’ll need to be signed into your app.

To upload a receipt, you sign in to the app and hit the ‘claim’ button at the bottom of the screen. From there, you follow the simple directions.

All CheckoutSmart rewards are available on top of any in-store promotions. Items that have been ‘reduced to clear’ or fresh items reduced in price and close to expiry aren’t eligible for rewards.

For more details and to sign up, go to www.checkoutsmart.com or download the app (available for Android and iOS devices).

Google Play store rating: 3.6 (No rating for App Store)


Are there any money-saving websites or apps that you use? If so, please share so that everyone can save money!

I love hearing from you and want to grow this community that is gradually getting bigger. Don’t be shy! Comment, contribute to the Facebook page, send me a private message or all three! I will always try to help you.

Lisa a.k.a ‘Bunchy’

Easy Carrot, Orange, Coriander and Ginger Soup

bunchythebudgeteer_easycarrotorangeandgingersoup_dreamstime.com

* Photo courtesy of  dreamstime.com (As soon as I next make my next batch, I’ll snap a picture and add one of my own).

Another Autumnal day calls for the last of the fail-safe and easy soup recipes we use. This time it’s with carrot, orange, coriander, and ginger. The recipe name may sound as if the cooking will be a large production. It isn’t. Especially if you use cheats, as I often do!

It’s also yet another soup that can be suitable for vegans and those with gluten intolerance. Ensure the stocks used are suitable for you and you’re good to go.

I like to make a large batch of this on the hob, as it’s quick to make. By making much more than needed for one dinner, we can freeze portions and use on lazy days. Batch cooking like this saves not only your energy and time but your energy bills too!

I’d been making this soup for a few years before meeting my (now) husband. Trying to convince him that orange works well in this recipe wasn’t easy. He thought I was ‘mental’ to include it, but he changed his tune after trying the soup for the first time. Now it’s one of his favourites.

My inspiration for the recipe was from Riverford Organic Farmers (the people who I’ve ordered veg boxes from). I tweaked it a little, as you may also want to.

Finally, I can’t let you go without sharing these fun facts (well I enjoyed them, but then I’m a bit of a nerd) taken straight from Wikipedia:

The provitamin A beta-carotene from carrots does not actually help people to see in the dark unless they suffer from a deficiency of vitamin A. This myth was propaganda used by the Royal Air Force during the Second World War to explain why their pilots had improved success during night air battles but were actually used to disguise advances in radar technology and the use of red lights on instrument panels. Nevertheless, the consumption of carrots was advocated in Britain at the time as part of a Dig for Victory campaign. A radio programme called The Kitchen Front encouraged people to grow, store and use carrots in various novel ways, including making carrot jam and Woolton pie, named after the Lord Woolton, the Minister for Food. The British public during WWII generally believed that eating carrots would help them see better at night and in 1942 there was a 100,000 ton surplus of carrots from the extra production.’

Enough chatter. You want the recipe

Easy Carrot, Orange, Coriander and Ginger Soup

(serves four)

Ingredients:

  • 1 large onion (chopped)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (chopped) *Optional.
  • 900g of carrots (chopped)
  • 1 tsp of fresh ginger (grated) *We store our root ginger in the freezer and take it out to use when needed. In a pinch, or to save time, you could also use ginger powder.
  • 2 tablespoons of oil
  • Juice of 2-3 oranges (and zest, if you wish) *To save time, use 150ml of orange juice instead.
  • 1 litre of veg stock
  • A few coriander leaves (chopped) *You can use chopped parsley leaves if preferred. To make the recipe more frugal and easier, use dried versions of the herbs instead.

To Serve (Optional):

Plain yoghurt or creme fraiche (use dairy-free or gluten-free if necessary).
Salt & pepper to taste.

Method:

1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil and add the chopped onion.
2. Cook on a gentle heat for 10 minutes, or until the onion is soft.
3. Add the garlic (if using) and cook for another minute or two.
4. Add the carrots, ginger (and zest, if using), stir to mix and add the hot stock.
5. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes (or until the carrots are softening).
6. Blend up the soup mixture in a blender or with a hand mixer, until smooth.
7. Return the mixture to the pan, add the orange juice and reheat on a low setting.
8. Add salt and pepper if desired and a blob of yogurt if using.

We like to eat this for dinner with either crusty bread, french baguette or with sandwiches. Nom, nom, nom.

Let me know if you try it, or if you tweak it, and how it turned out!

Here is the inspiration for the Easy Carrot, Orange, Coriander and Ginger Soup. You may also want to have a look at Mr.B’s (the hubster) Vegan-Friendly Frugal Tomato Soup, my Frugal And Healthy Spicy Lentil Soup  and my Chunky Autumnal Vegetable Stew Slow Cooker Recipe.

I love hearing from you and want to grow this community that is growing each day. Don’t be shy! Comment, contribute to the Facebook page, send me a private message or all three! I will always try to help you.

Lisa a.k.a ‘Bunchy’

Chunky Autumnal Vegetable Stew Slow Cooker Recipe

Chunky Autumnal Vegetable Stew Slow Cooker Recipe

I’ve been craving a hearty and chunky vegetable stew for a couple of weeks now. Something ‘Autumnal’.

I don’t know about you, but Autumn is my favourite season. Yes, there are some downsides, such as:

  • Being cold.
  • Having increased heating bills.
  • Not being able to dry our washing outdoors as fast as usual.

Yet, we can enjoy:

  • Getting wrapped up and going to feed the squirrels in leave-strewn parks.
  • Snuggling up under a blanket with a hot mug of tea and a good book or film.
  • Filling up on yummy, stodgy, home-cooked food.

bunchythebudgeteer.wordpress.com-chunkyautumnvegetablestew

* Image courtesy of Dreamstime.com

Feeling grotty today and not wanting some rather sad looking vegetables to go to waste, I pulled out the slow cooker. So much easier than regular cooking and I knew that if I began to feel more ill (I did), at least I’d made dinner!

Here’s the Recipe:

  • 2 red onions (finely chopped)
  • 2 leeks (finely chopped)
  • 4 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
  • 4 small carrots (cut into large chunks)
  • 4 small sweet potatoes (cut into large chunks)
  • 4 small Maris Piper potatoes (cut into large chunks)
  • 150g dry red lentils
  • 2 litres of hot vegetable stock (made with 3 veg stock cubes and a teaspoon of vegetable bouillon – because I ran out stock cubes).
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon of dried parsley
  • Gravy granules to thicken, at the end of the cooking session.
    (Or instead, you could omit the gravy granules and mix some cornflour with water and add).

Method:

  1. Peel and chop up the veg.
  2. Make up the stock with boiling water.
  3. Put all the ingredients in the slow cooker.
  4. Cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 5-6 hours.
  5. Thicken if desired.
  6. Add dumplings if desired.
  7. Enjoy!

This made enough for me to put a few container fulls into the freezer, for nights when neither Mr.B nor I want to cook.

I had this for dinner this evening and it was scrummy!

It’s a cheap, healthy meal and won’t bust the budget. It’s also suitable for vegetarians and vegans (even the dumplings were vegan-friendly!). Many supermarket stocks and gravy granules are also gluten-free. By using them, this stew can also be enjoyed by people with gluten intolerance.

Let me know if you try this recipe. Though not exactly the same, I based the recipe on one from my Sarah Flowers slow cooker recipe book, which you can find here.

Do you have any good vegetable stew or soup recipes that you’d recommend? Please share, so that we can all enjoy!

For more soup recipes, check out my Frugal and Healthy Spicy Lentil Soup and my Vegan-Friendly Frugal Tomato Soup.

I love hearing from you and want to grow this community that is gradually getting bigger. Don’t be shy! Comment, contribute to the Facebook page, send me a private message or all three! I will always try to help you.

Lisa a.k.a ‘Bunchy’

Things You Need to Know Before Making Your First Budget

thingsyouneedtoknowbeforemakingyourfirstbudget

If you’ve identified that you need a budget, great! We all need a budget, whether we’re on low OR high incomes. To not tell our money what to do each month puts us at a financial disadvantage. Before you start, though, there are some things you need to know before making your first budget:

What Are You Currently Spending Your Money On?

You can’t set a realistic goal of spending £200 on groceries if, for the last six months, you’ve spent £400 per month.

For each of your budget categories, find out what you have been spending. If possible, look back over the past three months. Next, track your spending, for each area (groceries, eating out, clothes shopping, etc) for a month.

Write everything down as soon as possible and keep receipts.

Then, when you make your first budget, decide on a new amount for each category that is closer to what you want to spend. You can always adjust the amount for future months.

Do You Have Money Left at the End of Each Pay Period?

If you do, consider giving this surplus amount a purpose. This could be debt-repayment, savings, or whatever goal is most important to you at the moment.

You Don’t Need to Be Good at Maths to Have a Successful Working Budget

I’m not at all gifted at maths. Not even close (I even still count on my fingers!). All you need is a bit of organisation, a desire to feel better about your finances, a calculator and you’re all set.

Making a Budget Doesn’t Have to Involve Making a Fancy Spreadsheet

I do use a spreadsheet, but for ages, I used a pen and paper. I find it easier since using a spreadsheet that I designed for myself, but pen and paper budgeting is fine.

If you wanted to, you could use a money management app or software. There are loads around, but YNAB is very popular. They also have great video tutorials on YouTube. I signed up for the free trial and must admit, I found it a bit confusing, but I didn’t put enough time into it. You might be one of the many who love it.

Another great place to get started is ‘The Money Advice Service‘ Budget Planner.

Experiment with your budget and see what works best for you.

You Need a Budget If You Want to Improve Your Financial Situation

You’re reading this post because you want to improve your financial management.

If you have debts that you want to pay off, then budgeting will achieve this faster.

If you want to save optimal amounts of money each month, then you need a budget.

If you want to see how fast you can retire or pay off your mortgage, then you need a budget to help you to reach your goals.

If you want your partner to be able to stay at home with the children, then you need a budget to work out how to do this.

How Much Money Do You Owe, Who Do You Owe It to, and When Must It Be Re-Paid?

For most people with debts, especially those with a large debt-load, this can be the hardest thing of all. Everyone can understand not wanting to face up to such a stressful thing. The truth is, though, that unless you know exactly what you’re dealing with, you can’t improve things.

Get all your letters, statements and bank accounts opened up and add up what you owe and who to. Add the dates that these debts need to be repaid.

A Budget Doesn’t Mean That You Can’t Have Any More Fun

Budgets have a negative connotation of being ultra-constrictive. They can feel this way if your basic outgoings are almost as much as your income, even after making major cuts.

Can you meet your obligations and still put decent amounts to savings and/or debt? If so, then recreational spending is a good idea! It’ll stop you from feeling constricted and help you stay on track to reach the goals you’ve set yourself.

How Often Do You Get Paid or Receive Other Money?

If for example, you only receive income from one source every month then this is simple. Yet, if you receive income from more than one source, then they may come at different times.

If you receive a payment every two weeks, you’ll have months where you get three payments instead of two. Looking at exactly when you get paid is important to be able to budget well.

What Are Your Money Goals?

Knowing your ‘why‘ is crucial to sticking to your budget. It’s the difference between following your plan for a few months or staying the course.

You already know that you want to start budgeting your money, but why do you want to? If you don’t already have a strong reason, then ask yourself what will budgeting help you achieve? Return to that thought whenever you’re feeling like you don’t want to continue with your plan.

What Are You Willing to Do to Make Your Income and Outgoings Balance?

After making a budget and some time has passed you may discover:

  • That your outgoings exceed your income.
  • That there’s very little money left to enjoy each month

If this happens, then you may have to make further cuts to your spending, find ways to increase your, or both. It’s wise to bear this in mind before discovering that your budget doesn’t balance.

What Events Are Coming up That Will Cost You Money and How Will You Prepare?

As well as your monthly expenses, there will be random expenses that crop up. This could be an unexpected work trip or an M.O.T. It’ll vary each month, so think about how you’ll budget for this. Will you have a miscellaneous category in your monthly budget? What about for things like Christmas? Will you set aside a set amount each month so that by December you have enough to cover everything?

What Style of a Budget Will You Use?

Read my post: ‘Are You Within The Recommended Guidelines For Your Monthly Expenses?‘ and then decide how you’d like to design your budget.

You might want to split up your budget into ratios, such as:

A 10/20/70 budget:

  • 10% of your money to savings.
  • 20% towards extra debt-repayment (over and above what you’re obliged to pay each month).
  • 70% to cover everything else.

Or a 20/30/50 split:

  • 20% of your income goes to savings and/or debt.
  • 30% is for non-essential spending.
  • You keep your vital living expenses under 50%.

You may want to do something completely different.

Whatever you decide, be aware that as you build your budget, you may have to alter your plans. If, say, you have high outgoings compared to income, you may not be able to do what you’d first hoped to do with your money. This is ok. This discovery shows you that you need to think about how you’ll improve your situation. You can make things work.

The First Three Months Will Be a Learning Curve

I’ve heard this so often and it’s true!

An unexpected bill arrives and it’s at this point that you need to make an important decision. Many people will think ”Well, I’ve blown the budget, so I may as well start fresh next month. Now, where’s the nearest coffee shop?” Or, ”I’m terrible with money, there’s no point, and I’m giving up.”

What you could consider, instead, is that budgeting is a skill, like any other and so needs practise.

Life doesn’t care about your spreadsheet or bank account and it’s up to you to be creative. Is it possible to reduce your other spending this month, to cover the unexpected expense? Can you say no to the expense? How will you alter your budget going forward so that you’re as prepared as you can be for these such events?

Finally, return to your ‘why‘. It’s the reason that you’re doing this.

You’ll Sometimes Get Tired of Budgeting

If I, a budgeting nerd can sometimes get fed up with the budget that my husband and I made, then anyone can.

If you can add some ‘fun money‘ into your budget (even if it’s a chocolate bar each week!), then that will help.

Are you facing a long road of debt-repayment? If so, consider budgeting some ‘celebratory‘ money for when you pay off a certain amount. Then get back to it.

Again, remember your ‘why‘. It will sustain you.

If You Have a Partner, Then He or She Needs to Be on Board

This is so important.

If YOU want to live frugally and commit to paying off large amounts of debt, your partner can’t max out the credit card!

It’s fine if one of you takes charge of actually paying the bills and keeping track of paperwork. But you both need to talk about what you want for your immediate and long-term financial future. What sacrifices are you willing to make? Where do you want to spend your ‘disposable’ income each month?

I’ll let you in on how it works in our house. I update the spreadsheet, keep watch over the bank account and ensure that bills are being paid. This is because managing money has become a skill of mine and I (for the most part) enjoy it. Yet Mr.B finds all that stressful, boring and confusing. As boring and nerdy as it sounds, we have a budget meeting every month. Mr.B has an equal say in whatever financial events come up throughout the month.

What surprises us is, when we have our budget meetings, we end up talking about many other things. Money influences so many areas in life, such as where we want to go on holiday or who to buy Christmas presents for. It opens up communications about many things. In fact, I can say that it’s improved our communication in general. I’ve heard this so many times from other couples who budget together too.

If you don’t have a significant other, then you won’t have to concern yourself with the above. That said, you also don’t have somebody to keep you on track. So consider having some sort of accountability partner for support and encouragement.

It’s Worth Doing

I’ve always had a conservative attitude towards spending. I’ve always lived within my means. Yet it wasn’t until I made a budget and identified my financial goals that I saw noticeable results.

Since having a plan to follow, I’ve achieved such a lot. This is despite a low income and three years of being unemployable. I don’t say this to blow my own trumpet, but to encourage you that you can make a positive difference in your life. This comes when you tell your money what to do.

How Much Is Your Income, Actually?

You might be on a £25,000 salary, but what do you actually take home each month? After tax, National Insurance, and pension, what remains? Do you receive any government benefits? If so, how much? Add it all up to see exactly what you’re working with.

Practical Next Steps

  1. Decide if you’re going to have a weekly, fortnightly, four-weekly or calendar-monthly budget.
  2. Track your expenses for a month.
  3. Try to find out your expenses for the past three months.
  4. Work out how much money you owe, who you owe it to and when it must get paid.
  5. Write down what your weekly/monthly income is and what dates you receive it.
  6. Write down your reasons for needing a budget and what your next financial goal is (review often and when you achieve each goal).
  7. Look at your calendar and write down all the bills, (plus birthdays, etc.) that are going to occur in your budget cycle.
  8. Decide which budget style you want to try. You can always switch to a different style if the one you try isn’t a good fit for you.
  9. If you have a partner, set a time for a budget meeting to work through all the steps above. (If you’re flying solo, find an accountability partner).

All this may seem a lot to do, but if you want to succeed, then you need strong foundations. Once you’ve completed the groundwork, congratulate yourself for your effort. Now go and build your first budget!

I love hearing from you and want to grow this community that is gradually getting bigger. Don’t be shy! Comment, contribute to the Facebook page, send me a private message or all three! I will always try to help you.

Lisa a.k.a ‘Bunchy’