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’

The Difference between ‘Saving’ and SAVING – How We Lie to Ourselves

The Difference Between Saving and SAVING

Ok, so what IS the difference between ‘saving‘ and SAVING?

At first, you might think, ‘What the hell? There isn’t a difference!’, but there really is.

There’s a lot of ways that we can ‘save’ (definition No 1) money, and by that, I mean saving money on purchases.

For example:

  • Using coupons and vouchers.

  • Buying things on sale instead of full price.

  • Lowering your thermostat.

  • Going to cheaper petrol stations.

All those sorts of things.

So, the aim is that you’re either saving on what you would have paid, or you’re abstaining completely.

For example:

Previously, you might’ve gone out every Saturday and bought new clothes. Now, however, you’ve decided to only buy clothes as and when you need to replace things.

So that’s the first definition of ‘saving’ money. It’s really just spending less.

The second definition is SAVING money (definition No 2). What I mean by that is actually putting money into your bank and leaving it there for an extended period of time. This could also mean investing it.

The distinction is important because, oftentimes, we lie to ourselves. We feel good because we’ve:

 
  • Bought a ‘two for one’ offer in the supermarket.

  • We’ve cycled instead of driven to work all week.

We’ve all ‘saved’ on things in this way and we’ll say to ourselves, ‘I’ve saved money!

While that’s great, and I’m not knocking it (I loves me a bargain!), we also need to ask ourselves:

‘Have I actually done something with the money that I would’ve spent?’
‘Have I spent my ‘savings’ elsewhere, instead?’

So, for example, let’s take the coffee drinker, who spends, let’s say, £5 every day on coffee.

She’s gone through Monday to Friday and she’s not spent any money on coffee. By the end of the working week, she usually would’ve spent £25. On Saturday, she thinks, ‘I’ve been so good this week, I haven’t bought any coffee! I’m going to treat myself to a takeaway pizza tonight.’

That’s great (no judgement made), but all she’s done is exchanged one purchase for another. She’s not actually saved any money. If, however, she said to herself, ‘Great! I’ve saved £25 this week on not buying coffee! I’m going to put that £25 in an interest-earning savings account.’ Then that gal has actually SAVED money.

The Difference between 'Saving' and SAVING - How W
Photo: Tom Sodoge on Unsplash

I know it sounds so obvious to point out, but in daily life, our buying behaviour isn’t always so apparent to us.

So, there is an important distinction. The first way of saving is, (the way I distinguish it), ‘money-saving‘. To recap, to me, that means:

  • Getting deals/bargains.

  • Paying less for goods or services than usual.

  • Getting something for free, whereas before I might’ve had to pay for it (like finding a free book to download).

To me, these are all money-saving tactics, but SAVING is the actual physical act of adding money to a bank account.

It’s a simple thing, but it can often trip people up, so that’s why I felt it was important to talk about today.

It’s all very well being frugal, but if you’re not actually doing something with that saved money, whether it’s:

Moving some money from your current account into a savings account,

or

Putting money you normally would’ve frittered away on sweets or chocolate into a jar,

then you’re not actually benefiting yourself at all.

It’s important, on a psychological level, to make that clear in your head. Being aware of these small behaviours will give you your best chance of succeeding at saving in 2018.

The Difference between 'Saving' and SAVING - How W
Photo: Aris sfakianakis on Unsplash.

What I’d like to know from you guys is:

Have you ever found yourself thinking that you’re doing well at cutting back on spending, or finding deals in the supermarket, etc, only to think:

‘Well hang on a minute, I haven’t actually got any more money!’

or

‘I’m still struggling at the end of the month!’

If so, I hope this post helps to bring this savings issue to the forefront of your mind. What I want for you is that each time you make a ‘saving’, that you think:

‘Right, I saved that on my shopping, I’m actually going to physically move that money over into SAVINGS.

Although I haven’t used them, there are apps that will ’round up’ your purchases to the nearest pound. The spare change is then sent to savings or investments. Do you use them? Do you think they’d help you to save money? Let me know!

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 an email or all three! I will always try to help you.


Lisa aka ‘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’

A Beginner’s Bite-Size Guide to the Differences between Savings and Investments

A Beginner's Bite-Size Guide to the Differences between Savings and Investments

If you’re just beginning to learn about how money really works and are wanting to take control of your finances, you may not be completely clear about the terms that are used in the financial sphere. Hopefully, I can clear up one common cause of confusion; the difference between saving and investing money.

Saving

Most people know what saving is, but it’s good to define the meaning so that you can see the difference between this and investing. So, to save means putting away money a bit at a time, usually to pay for something specific or for a ‘rainy day’ fund.

Savings are usually kept in a bank or building society account and your money is easily accessed when you need it. Some accounts may pay you interest on your savings, but this is more of a benefit rather the sole aim of the money.

Money kept in savings is generally at a very low risk of loss, but remember that savings are still at risk of losing value due to inflation (where the buying power of your money and any interest earned on it doesn’t keep up with the increased cost of living and therefore what your money can buy now will be less than what it can buy you in the future).

Investing

Investing is still a form of saving, but here you are taking some of your money with the aim of growing it by putting it into things that you think will increase in value e.g. investing in stocks, shares or rental property.

Money that is placed in such investments is at a higher risk of loss, as whatever you choose to invest your money into may not increase in value and may actually decrease in value. Usually, the higher the risk of an investment, the higher the amount of ‘return‘ (what you’ll get back on top the initial amount you put in) you could receive.

For more on saving and investing, you may like to read Are You Within The Recommended Guidelines For Your Monthly Expenses?

What other financial terms confuse you? If there’s anything I can clear up for you, please don’t hesitate to ask.

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’

Are You Within The Recommended Guidelines For Your Monthly Expenses?

Who is Bunchy the Budgeteer? Who is 'Bunchy'?

Are you confused by all the financial advice out there, telling you how much you need to be saving each month? I know that I used to be! Would it help to know if you are within the recommended guidelines for your monthly expenses?

 
Have you got into a spin about what percentage of your income you should be investing into a pension? You know, so that you’re not eating cold baked beans in your old age (unless that’s how you roll)?
Do you ever wonder if you’re spending far too much of your income on things you enjoy? Are you worrying that those items are costing you more than the actual price tag – like your financial health?
Stressed because you can’t save what (insert financial guru) recommends you save each month due to struggling to afford the basics? (I know, I’ve been there) Well, please read on, friend…
Let me first say that there is a no ‘one size fits all’ plan to personal finance. It’s personal finance after all! I DO believe that there are good rules of thumb that we can go by. Tweak them here and there to suit your particular circumstances. That means altering things to benefit your financial situation, not to satisfy your spending desires!
 
I’ve read a lot of advice on what percentage of ones’ income should go towards various categories. Some experts vary in how they split up the categories, but for the most part, they tend to fall into these areas:
 
Saving and Investing There’s a difference. Read ‘A Beginner’s Bite-Size Guide to the Differences between Savings and Investments‘.
Debt-repayment (over and above what must get paid each month. Things such as a mortgage payment and paying the minimum balance on a credit card).
Vital household and living expenses.
Recreational/discretionary spending.
 

Let’s Start with Savings

 
General advice tells us to aim to put 10-20% of our net income towards savings &/or investments each month. Net pay is our ‘take-home’ pay, after tax and National Insurance gets deducted. What most experts will tell you is that your first goal is to have an emergency fund. Check out Why Having an Emergency Fund Will Help You to Sleep Better‘.
Once you’ve saved/are saving your emergency fund, consider other savings:
Short-Term Savings
For expenses or purchases you expect to happen in less than five years. For example, a family holiday or Christmas.
Medium-Term Savings
For expenses or purchases you expect to happen within five to 10 years, e.g. a new car.
Longer-term Savings
For expenses expected to occur in ten years or more, such as saving up for a child’s university tuition.
You may decide that you instead want to invest long-term savings, to maximise its chance of growth. Due to not needing the money for several years, it has a better chance of weathering any fluctuations. For example, if invested in the stock market. There is always a chance of losing money in investments. If you’re not willing or able to risk this, then a savings vehicle may be a better option for you.
 

Have You Ever Heard of ‘Sinking Funds’?

 
Sinking funds are savings goals for specific purposes. Read my post ‘What Are Sinking Funds and Why Do I Need Them?‘ and then come back. Our sinking funds have saved our skins and our budget many a time!
One final note before moving on to the next category. Some financial experts say that you should forget having any type of savings until you’re out of debt. This doesn’t include your mortgage. Some suggest you have a safety net of one month worth of expenses saved. Others recommend that you build your emergency fund at the same time as paying off debts.
Whatever you decide is the best option for you will depend on several things, including:
 
  • How secure you feel that your jobs are.
  • How tolerant you are to risk.
  • During a period of unemployment or illness, how your debts would affect you if you hadn’t reduced them.

Investing

For most people, this will mean the money that they save into their pension plan. It could also include other investments such as:
 
Investing in the stock market.
Buying a second property.
As mentioned before, you may also want to invest money earmarked for long-term savings. It can grow more than it could in an easily accessible savings account, but there’s more risk.
Experts recommend putting 5-20% of your take-home pay into investments/retirement savings. Other experts advise beginning at half your age as a percentage.
Example:
 
You’re 40 and have never consistently contributed to a pension or investment. Therefore, you would invest 20% (half your age) of your income until you retire.
 
The younger you begin saving for retirement, the smaller the chunk taken from your budget! Yet it all depends on how much you want to live on in retirement and what your retirement goals are.
Investing is an extensive topic and you should get professional advice about. Use a regulated independent financial advisor when making such important and long-term decisions.
Debt repayment
 
The advice seems to indicate that we should be putting 5%-20% of our take-home pay towards debt each month.
 
This percentage doesn’t include:
 
  • Your usual monthly mortgage payment (if you have one.
  • Paying any minimum credit card balance – you ‘have‘ to pay or risk additional debt.
Instead, this means, for example:
 
  • Making additional payments towards a mortgage if you want to pay it off earlier. Some financial gurus advocate this. Others feel that there are better things to be doing with your money.
  • Clearing credit card debts or paying off a car finance agreement, etc.

Vital Household and Living Expenses

We’re advised to keep this category of spending between 50-70% of our take-home pay. Though not meant to be an exhaustive list, this category will include things such as:
 
  • Food & household groceries (the basics).
  • Mortgage or rent payment.
  • Council tax.
  • Gas, electricity, and water.
  • Fuel/public transport to get to and from work.
  • Clothing basics.
  • Life assurance.
  • Home (building &/or contents) insurance.
  • Car tax, new tyres, car insurance, and M.O.T.
  • Sight tests and glasses.
  • Prescriptions.
  • Dentistry.
  • Boiler servicing.
  • Necessary hair-cuts.

Recreational/Discretionary Spending

This is where you finally get to have some fun with your money and use it for entertainment purposes!
From my research, advice indicates we try to keep these non-vital expenses between 10-30% of our net pay.
Again, the list below isn’t intended to be an exhaustive list. What you chose to spend your ‘fun money‘ on will be different to what I like to spend mine on, but it may include such things as:
 
  • TV subscription services.
  • Sports equipment, toys, and gadgets.
  • Beauty salon treatments.
  • Restaurants/eating out.
  • Alcohol
  • Smoking and vaping.
  • Days out.
  • Non-essential home improvements.
  • Make-up.
  • Junk food and takeaways.
  • Luxury grocery items.
  • Clothing (above the basics to keep from getting arrested, etc.).
  • Jewellery.
Some financial specialists list the following as non-vital budget items:
 
  • Home internet, landline telephones, mobile phones (and their tariffs). Unless it’s used for business purposes.
I hope that by reading this, you now have a clearer picture of how your spending compares.
If you’re aware of the potential impact of where you allocate your money each month, then that’s great. Whatever you decide to do is going to be very personal to you and your circumstances.
Some people don’t have the luxury of choosing where they prioritise their spending. They may have cut back everywhere possible and still don’t have enough for the basics or for saving. In these situations, it’s not a spending issue that they have, but an income issue. Until that’s improved, they shouldn’t, for example, concern themselves with investing.

Have you calculated how much of your income goes into the categories above? Are you a natural saver or spender? What are your views on prioritising debt repayment over saving or vice versa? Do you have an emergency fund?

 

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’