Fun on a budget

It can’t have escaped many people’s attention, but we’re in for some tough financial times ahead. Inflation’s high, energybills are going through the roof and landlords everywhere are putting up the rent.

But, rather than feeling gloomy about the situation, you can help yourself to get through it and still have fun. That’s because setting a budget and sticking to it will mean that you’ll be more in control of the situation – and avoid having to take other steps that might include taking out a personal loan to tide you over.

Why budget?

There are plenty of reasons to budget beyond making sure that you have enough money to see you through to the end of the month or until the next paycheck.

The first is that it’s a very good habit to get into. Once you get into the swing of controlling your finances it’s something that should stay with you for life.

Secondly, it will help you to feel more in control generallyand that’s good for everyone’s mental health.

Thirdly, it might actually help you to start saving for the future, again a habit that’s important to get into as soon as you possibly can and which also gives you a bit of a “buffer” in case you face any unexpected expenses in the future

Steps to setting your budget

So that’s the theory. But how do you go about actually putting it all into practice?

The very first thing to do is to work out what your income is each month. If it varies then take the last three months and work out the average.

Then there’s a step-by step process that begins with a microscopic examination of your essential monthly expenditure. These are the things that you have to pay for every month and include:

Your rent or mortgage
Utility bills
Loan repayments
Food and drink
Transport costs
Mobile phone contracts
Childcare/education

Next, it’s time to look at how you’re spending your disposable income which can be on things like:

Nights out with friends
Going to the movies
Gym membership
Your games and hobbies
Books and magazines
Clothes
Treats

By adding the two figures together you’ll get a rough idea of how much you’re spending each month and, hopefully, this will be less than you’re earning.

It’s also a good moment to see how you could spend less of your disposable income. For example, maybe if you only went out on one night a week instead of two or switched your gym membership to an off-peak rate.

If you’re someone who likes to play on a casino site then remember that you can always set a limit to the amount that you spend in a session to keep to your proposed budget.

Finally, when you have added both your essential and non-essential spending together and subtracted this figure from your monthly income, you’ll even be able to see how much you have left over for savings.

Use tech to help you budget

In the old days setting and sticking to a budget was often a question of writing it all down with pen and paper and trying your hardest to stick to it. But nowadays you can get help through a budget site that can help you keep tabs on your spending in all kinds of ways.

Within some bank accounts, including with Monza or Starling, you can set up different “pots” for your money so you can keep the amounts you need to pay for different things in their own section of your account. Lots of people find this is a very useful way to keep on top of their finances.

Don’t forget the fun!

So we’ve talked all about the budgeting, but not so much the fun. But there’s no reason why being careful with your cash needs to clip your wings.

There are plenty of ways to economise on life while still enjoying yourself, and here are just three suggestions.

Look out for free events in your area. There are often plenty of free events to go to ranging from guided walks discovering the history of your area to talks and film-shows on a wide range of subjects.

Check out restaurants’ special offers. Lots of restaurants are struggling for customers at the moment or are simply trying to promote their less busy times of the day or week. So make sure you take advantage of any discounts or early-bird savers on offer, you can use a money saving site to keep track of the best offers all in one place.

See movies for less. Cinemas also have a night of the week when they put on a 2-for-1 offer or similar. So you’ll even have spare cash left over for popcorn.

So make today the day that you commit to budget – and,before you know it, you’ll be in complete control of your cash.

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