Sticking to your budget

Stay within your budget and reach your financial goals

  • Credit cards and overdrafts can be useful when you need extra finance – but make sure you’re able to pay back what you borrow.
  • Direct Debits can help you keep track of your regular outgoings.
  • Keep detailed records so you can stay on top of your budget.

Put a plan in place to reach your financial goals

Whether you want to manage your money better day-to-day, save more, or get on top of debt, here's how to get started.

Manage your money

Being good with your money doesn’t mean thinking about it every minute of the day, it just requires good habits at key times of the month or week. Day-to-day money management means knowing when you have money, when you need to pay things off, and when you need to be more careful. The following tips can help you manage your budget.

To budget effectively and make sure you're living within your means, remember to review your budget plan regularly, especially if there have been any changes to your circumstances.

Make a list

Start by jotting down when you get paid, and when your Direct Debits and standing orders fall. It's also useful to write down the other monthly commitments you'd already listed in your budget plan.

Consider an overdraft

If you stick to your budget, you should be fine, but there may be times when things get tight and you find you need something to tide you over until the end of the month. If this happens, talk to your bank. You may be able to add an overdraft facility to your current account.

Or, if you already have an agreed overdraft limit in place, your bank may be able to increase this, either on a temporary or permanent basis. But try not to get used to having an overdraft. You should only see it as a temporary arrangement. Instead, revisit your budget and make additional reductions where possible.

Use credit cards carefully

Another flexible form of borrowing is to take out a credit card. The interest-free period on purchases is often up to 56 days if you pay your balance off in full. Remember, if you only pay off the minimum amount, it will take you longer and cost more to clear the balance.

Stay in control of your money

Text and mobile banking

If your bank offers text alerts, sign up for them to keep track of your spending and stay on top of your account balance. You may be able to set up text alerts that will let you know if you're close to your account limit so that you can avoid any unnecessary overdraft charges. Or, you may be able to set low/high balance alerts to notify you when you should transfer money into or out of our account.

Your bank may also offer mobile banking – this will be an application you download to your compatible mobile so you can manage your money anytime and from anywhere. There may be a charge for these services so you should always check with your bank first.

Set up regular payments

Pay your bills by Direct Debit or standing order. Make sure you set them up for the time of the month when you have money. This will probably be just after you get paid each month.

If you contact the companies, you can often change the payment date to suit you (or spread the payments if you’re paid weekly). Once you know that you've paid all your bills, you'll then know how much leftover cash you have to spend or, better yet, to save.

Get in the savings habit

Saving a little bit regularly can really add up – setting up a standing order for £20 a week can add up to over £1,000 a year.

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Further guides

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