The cost of living in the UK is at an all time high and sometimes it’s hard not to feel the squeeze with the rise of inflation. Many people feel as though they are living pay cheque to pay cheque especially with price increases across the board, from energy bills, food shopping and even clothing.
As a family we are all about budgeting, here are a few ways in which you could plan and budget for the month
When we first bought our home, we sat down and decided that this is when we should stop with the careless spending. We needed to know our budget, to save for our future and make sure that we had money available for emergencies if needed.
Step one was to make a note of our current income and then the scary part, the outgoings. Budgets were set for everything from food to general household expenditure. We make sure that we have a little splash fund every month for days out and treats but for the most part, we stick to the budget.
This was a huge one for us, before we started meal planning we spent a lot on takeaways, meals out etc. Because at the end of the work day we would have the same conversation “What do you fancy for dinner?” and the result was always the same “What do we have in?” “What can we make?” and rather than spending a few minutes looking through the fridge, freezer and cupboards, we would order a takeaway because it was less time consuming and easier. Now we make the effort once a week to plan what meals we would like, by spending a couple of hours on Pinterest scouring for recipes, meal ideas and inspiration . Meal planning also comes in handy when doing the grocery shop, rather than wandering around the supermarket, aimlessly throwing anything and everything into the shopping trolley,we know what we need to buy for our meals.
For those days when you really don’t want to spend time cooking, its handy to have a few meals that you can just grab. Every Sunday we make a few meals that we can freeze, they are perfect for lunches or quick meals in the evenings. If meal prepping isn’t really something that you want to commit to, it’s easy enough to build up a batch of meals by just making a little extra when cooking your meals, any leftovers can be frozen for another day.
It might be slightly more time consuming but we’ve found that we can often get some products cheaper elsewhere, using sites like MySupermarket can show you where your shopping would be cheaper. The same goes for purchasing items online, take your time and shop around, prices often vary store to store.
Shop for alternatives
More often than not supermarket own branded products are just as good if not better than branded items. It’s also a good idea to substitute ingredients, particularly meat for alternatives to keep costs down.
Make use of those vouchers
For a long time, I used to throw vouchers away but now I make use of them and often make some pretty good savings.
Be Frugal with energy consumption, I recently published a post about keeping energy costs low this winter but you can keep an eye on your energy usage by having a smart meter installed.
Take a look at your monthly bills and direct debits, cancel any that aren’t necessary
Use price comparison websites for things like gas and electricity suppliers.
Look for the best deals online
Contact your current suppliers and negotiate lower payments – especially for things like phone contracts etc.
Manage your finances
Sometimes it’s easy to “brush everything under the carpet” but keeping a close eye on your spending habits is crucial. My younger self would avoid checking her bank balance, especially towards the end of the month when I knew that I’d probably overspent. Being in control of your finances can save a lot of stress in the long run. There’s also no shame in asking for help, when my university days were over and my overdraft and credit cards were looking worse for wear, I took out a loan to consolidate my debts, rather than having a few payments go out each month, it was just the one payment which left me with a little bit more of a disposable income. There are plenty of solutions to help deal with your debts, from bad credit loans to debt consolidation. If you are looking for help with your finances then you can always make and appointment with the Citizens Advice service.