This is a collaborative post.
Do you find that your bank account seems to get empty no sooner than money goes in? Do you find that you are always in a never-ending losing fight with your household expenses? You are probably not alone in these things. Juggling the bills is one thing that causes most families a great deal of stress.
However, you can reduce your stress levels surrounding your bills by taking control of the situation. It may take a bit of effort at first, but if you can invest some time into getting yourself a plan together, then you will find that you will come in on budget each month. You might even be able to treat yourself once in a while or save a bit of spare cash too.
Allow Yourself Some Time To Sort Your Finances
You will need to allow yourself a day or so to thoroughly review all of your household expenses. If you have a partner, you should do this together, and be entirely honest with each other about the things you are spending money on.
You will need access to your online banking and a spreadsheet in which to work out your expenditure and budget.
You may need to make some phone calls or do some online research as you go. So allow yourself the time to be stuck on hold phoning various companies.
Go Through Everything That You Spend
Be very thorough and list everything that you have going out each month. Start with the most important items that cannot be avoided. If you pay rent or a mortgage, that is your number one priority when it comes to outgoings. You will then need to list any essential home expenses such as gas, electric, broadband, and insurance. Next will come to any loans or credit card payments that you have.
After this, work out how much you spend on average on food and travel expenses such as fuel. You may need to look at a few months worth of expenditure to find out this information, as there will no doubt be some fluctuation in the amounts.
After that, go through anything that is left coming out of your bank accounts. List them all down, and scrutinise each payment.
Work Out What You Can Do Without
Once you’ve gone through everything, you may notice that there are spending patterns. Buying lunches on your break from work might be a habit that is costing you a great deal. Making your own sandwiches at home will cost you a fraction of something that is store-bought. Luxury items like coffee on your way to work add up too. Buy a travel cup, and take coffee from home. The cost of a jar of coffee that can make you dozens of cups will be about the same amount as a takeaway.
If there are any subscriptions or memberships that you don’t really use, cancel these. Often, the novelty of getting items through your door each month wears off, and you end up with more things that you can use.
If you ever signed up for the gym but never went, you may have been paying for this for a long time. It is an expense that you don’t need, and if you haven’t been yet, you probably never will.
Make Your Home More Economical
There are some things that you can do to reduce your expenses around the home. Getting into sensible habits can be helpful. Think about turning appliances and lights off when they are not in use as well as keeping doors closed to reduce draft.
You may want to think about fitting a panel heater so that you have a more energy-efficient source of heating in your home. You could also look at installing smart meters to see where your power is being used, as well as utilising the latest technology in thermostats.
Having automatic timers fitted on your electrical appliances may be beneficial too, or you may wish to consider using app-controlled devices to turn anything off when it is not in use.
Change Your Suppliers
A big area where you can reduce costs is by changing all of your suppliers. Once you have been with a company for a while, the prices often slide upwards. You might have been on a preferential rate as a new customer at one point, but those days are probably long gone. If you are not on the best deal anymore, see who can beat the current amount that you are paying.
With so much competition when it comes to utilities, there is no reason to not shop around every few months to take advantage of the competitive offers that companies throw out to attract new customers. Be savvy, and keep your eye on your bills.
Know Your Limits
Once you have been through your bills and expenses with a fine-tooth comb, you will know precisely what you have available to spend each month. You should have a precise total that you should be aiming for in your food shopping bills. If you need to save money in this area, create a meal plan. From that, you will be able to derive an exact shopping list. If you can stick tight to this list, and not be persuaded into buying the latest special offers in the supermarket, you will save yourself a considerable amount of money.
Having a clear budget will help you to know what you can spend on yourself each month. By allocating yourself spending money, you will be able to make more informed purchases.
Once you have got into the habit of regularly reviewing all of your expenses, you will notice that you will have money to spare each month. Set yourself up a standing order, and put some of this surplus money into a savings account. Having a buffer will be useful for emergency spending, and it will stop the need for putting items onto a credit card.