These days we live on a pretty tight budget. We’re not flat broke by any stretch of the imagination, but when I gave up my career to be with the kids full time we gave up the lifestyle that went with my fairly substantial salary, and had to find the best way to save money on everyday living. I was the main breadwinner for a long time, and we were fortunate to live more than comfortably.
So comfortably, in fact, that when I look back now I kind of cringe at how much we used to spend on pointless things, and how bad I was at managing our finances. We could cover luxuries like subscription TV and epic days out without having to think too much about it, so I rarely spent time trying to find or negotiate better deals.
Fast forward to now, and I’m proud to say that I’ve become the master budgeter of the family! In January we survived an entire month on a measly pay packet of just over £800 (Mr C started a new job and only got paid a portion of a month’s salary from his old job). We had some working tax credits (Universal Credit to be more specific) to top that up, but the upshot was we were gonna struggle.
Setting realistic budgets for the monthly essentials was… well, essential. Even more so than usual. Being the computer nerd that I am, this is where a trusty spreadsheet came in handy.
There are so many factors to living successfully on a tight budget. Things like meal planning and making sure you have the best deals on all your utilities are amazing ways to save, but what you really need to start with is a proper budget. Having everything written down makes it so much easier to see where all your money needs to go, and where it’s actually going.
The spreadsheet I use makes life so simple, and it’s totally customisable month to month to allow for changes in earnings or expenses (there’s usually something extra to tack on, pfft..) It also has a section for savings goals and tracking, and honestly if it wasn’t for my spreadsheet I’d be lost every month, and we certainly wouldn’t have survived January!
Maybe you’re saving for a big holiday, a new car, or you’ve realised that school uniforms might bankrupt you this summer if you don’t get ahead of the game, or maybe you just want to be smarter with your money this year.
Whatever your reason for wanting to, the best way to save money is to start by getting your income and expenses written down somewhere. Work out exactly what comes in and what goes out every month, and even make a note of the dates that each regular transaction or direct debit happens. That way, you know when you need to have money in your account, and what’s come out what’s still to go. Saves accidentally spending the water bill money on wine 😉
It’s nearly impossible to make everyday cost savings until you have your monthly expenses written down. Once you can see in black and white where it’s all going, it’s far easier to make the necessary adjustments.
But always be realistic. If you actually do watch Netflix, Amazon TV and Apple TV regularly and you’d be lost without them, then keep them. Find other ways to save money and cut your outgoings instead.
To get ahead of the game with your finances in 2018, I’m sharing my spreadsheet with you completely FREE! You’ll also get the annual savings goals & planner too.
Pop your email address in the box, and I’ll get it whizzed straight over to you, so you can save money and take control of your finances!
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