Top budgeting tips

Ways to stay on top of your finances

  • Online banking can help you keep a close eye on your incomings and outgoings.
  • Saving any spare money each month could help you cover unexpected expenses in the future.
  • Taking advantage of schemes such as Child Tax Credits can help you budget as a family.
  • Shopping around for the best price could help you reduce your spending and stick to your budget.

Start with the basics

Bank online

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.

Take notes

Try keeping a spending diary for a month. You'll be surprised!

Ring-fence your money

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.

Smart budgeting choices

Spread it out

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.

Start saving your money

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.

Think ahead

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.

Bank that bonus

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.

Live a cash-based life

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.

Monitor your budget

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).

Budgeting as a family

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.

  • Pay attention
    Start a family spending diary. Try keeping track of every penny that everyone spends in a month – you’ll be surprised where the money goes.
  • Shop around
    Lots of retailers have clubs offering incentives and bargain offers on relevant products.
  • Take credit
    You may be eligible for the Child Tax Credit scheme. This is a means-tested benefit for parents and those responsible for a child under 16.
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Further guides

See more guides on budgeting.

Account

Current accounts

Find a current account that suits your needs.

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Developing a budget

Learn how to develop your budget.

Useful sites

The following sites offer a wealth of advice and support to help you cut costs and manage your family's finances.

Child Tax Credit Scheme

Boots Parenting Club

Compare utilities prices

Freecycle

eBay

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