If you have access to the internet, most banks allow you to manage your bank account online. You should log in regularly to check your spending and balance. You can also go online to view your statements and/or print them off if you need to. Doing this will help you identify your incomings and outgoings. You should always check your bank statements for anything amiss and cross-reference it with your list of outgoings.
Try keeping a spending diary for a month. You'll be surprised!
Open an additional current account so you can ring-fence enough money to cover your bills from one account and leave the rest in your other account for everyday spending. You’ll always have enough money to cover your bills, and you’ll know how much you have left to spend.
You may find that spreading larger payments over the year (for example, your car insurance or TV licence fee) makes more sense for you. Setting up a monthly direct debit to cover these payments can help you avoid the burden of a large lump sum, which can be helpful if money is tight.
If you have some spare money at the end of the month, you should think about starting to save. Because whatever crops up in your life, whether it’s an unexpected bill, a sudden repair job, or a shock redundancy, having some savings squirreled away can help take care of it. There are several different ways to save, but if you want to access your money at short notice, then an instant access savings account is a good choice.
Avoid impulse buying! However, you need to be aware of your weak spots and allow for a little unplanned spending now and again. If you can plan your spending in advance, you're less likely to buy things you don't need or can't afford.
Put part of any pay rises or bonuses into a savings account, as long as you don't have any outstanding debt. If you do have debts, you should think carefully about whether you ought to pay these off before you ring-fence your extra money. If you’re a tax payer, you could make the most of your yearly tax-free savings allowance by opening an ISA.
Consider withdrawing a fixed amount from your account at the beginning of the week and using this for all impromptu spending. But don't carry too much cash at any one time – only take what you think you will need each day to cover small purchases.
Once you've completed a budget plan, you'll immediately become more aware of your outgoings and what you have available to spend. You should keep track of your budget each month and make sure you update it whenever things change (for instance, if your utility bills go up during the winter months).
When you're trying to cope with the ever-increasing financial demands of a young family, a good starting point is to draw up a family budget for all your monthly costs and expenses, so that you can start planning for future commitments. The process is basically the same as doing a budget for just you.