Money can be an intimidating topic, but it’s important you understand how things work otherwise you could end up getting into all sorts of financial problems.
With the right information, you can make the right choices. Here are some useful tips, including help to deal with your debt problems and how to get your finances back into shape and keep them that way.
If you can’t pay your bills
There are things you can do if you’re struggling to pay your bills.
It’s important you don’t ignore your bills. Speak to the organisation you owe money to – they might be able to help by letting you pay smaller amounts or take a break.
It’s also worth telling your bank or building society if you’re struggling. If you don’t normally have an overdraft, they might agree to let you have one.
If you’re hoping to gain more control over spending and begin working towards your financial goals, you need a budget.
A personal or household budget is an itemised summary of expected income and expenses for a defined period of time, typically one month. While the word budget is often associated with restricted spending, a budget should really mean more efficient spending.
A budget will show you how much money you expect to bring in against all of your required expenses like house payments and rent to discretionary spending like entertainment. Instead of viewing a budget as a negative, you can view it as a tool for achieving your financial goals.
How to make a budget in six simple steps
Before you embark on setting a budget, find a good template you can use to fill in spending and income data. While you can use old-fashioned pen and paper to budget your money, it’s easier and more efficient to create or download a basic monthly budget spreadsheet.
A pre-made budget worksheet will generally contain designated fields for income and expenses in various categories and built-in formulas to help you figure out your budget surplus or shortfall with minimal maths ability.
1. Gather every financial statement you can
Depending on how modern your bank is, this might be quite a big challenge.
2. Record all of your sources of income
This includes all employment sources and any large financial gifts.
3. Create a list of monthly expenses
Again, you can use a bank statement to help you.
4. Break expenses into two categories: fixed and variable
Fixed expenses are those that stay relatively the same each month. They included mortgage or rent, car payments, internet service, credit card payments, and so on.
Variable expenses are the type that will change from month to month. They include:
- petrol /travel
- eating out
5. Total your monthly income and monthly expenses
This is where the spreadsheet really comes into its own.
6. Make adjustments to expenses
Be realistic with your adjustments.
Track your expenses
After you have set up your budget, it’s imperative that you monitor and record your expenses each month and make adjustments to your spending as needed to keep you on track and within your plan.