Money – it’s not the easiest topic for a lot of us to think about, but taking some time to look at your spending can help when the bills come in, and potentially help you save a bit every now and then.
We take a look at 5 ways to make budgeting and saving a bit easier below:
Make the time to sit down and look at it
Looking at your finances for some (us included) comes second to many other things in life, but it’s really useful to set some time aside to look at how much you and/or the family spend (on rent, but also small things) and how much you have coming in per week or month to make sure you’re not spending more than you think. It’s good to leave some room for unexpected things that unfortunately crop up every now and again (like vets bills or car trouble).
Things to work out: rent (& service charges, if relevant) + household bills + living costs (food shopping etc.) + financial products (like insurance) + family & friends and leisure (presents or a meal out) + travel (bus, train or car) versus money in within a set time.
We really like this budget planner from The Money Advice Service for starting off, but there are lots of other tools out there… or you can just use good old-fashioned pen and paper.
Set a (realistic) saving goal
If you are looking to save a bit of money for a trip away with the family, a birthday/Christmas or just general everyday things it’s good to have a goal, but it being realistic and achievable is crucial. Too high and you’ll most likely feel down on yourself for not saving that much in a month/year.
The best day to set your goal is payday/when you have the most money come in. If you’re tech savvy, there are a number of apps out there specifically created so you can keep track of your spending and any saving.
There is also a government-backed scheme called ‘Help to Save’ which offers a 50% savings bonus (i.e. you save between £1 and £50 per month (can vary each month) and after two and four years, you’re paid a 50% bonus of what you’ve saved) – find more information and advice on who this is and isn’t suited for here.
Look where you can save
One of the perks of living in the internet age is just how much information on money saving across different things – whether that be gas & electricity or phone bills, food or household items – is out there. We’ve handpicked some of our favourites at the bottom of this article, but there are many dedicated saving tips/discount websites out there.
Some phone and broadband suppliers will offer packages at a lower monthly cost than other options for people on means-tested benefits.
Furthermore, a majority of fuel suppliers offer the government-backed Warm Home Discount – a one-off discount of up to £140 on gas and/or electricity bills between September and March that is available to a set amount of people who fit the criteria (i.e. they get the ‘Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit or are on a low income). Please note that this discount will not affect your Cold Weather Payment or Winter Fuel Payment.
Give yourself a mantra
We’re a big fan of Martin Lewis’ money-saving advice website – here you can find a range of information and support across all aspects of money saving (find some below) – but he also has a pretty useful mantra when it comes to buying things.
So, next time you’re at the shops, maybe do look at what’s in your hands and check in with this:It works the other way too – things you already have in the home …do you or family members need/use them and could you make a bit of money by selling them on eBay, Facebook or similar?
If you are struggling, don’t struggle alone
You may not immediately think of your housing association as the place to go for money advice, but we’re here to help whether it’s specifically about money or something related. We have an inhouse Money Support Team and can offer advice when it comes to balancing your budget and related support, and we have other resources to support your work situation or mental health across Kent & Sussex.
Some useful links:
A few we have picked out from Martin Lewis’ Money Saving Expert website:
Detailed look across all areas where you could possibly save:
Bank account advice (including current switching offers out there):
And one for fun …grab a freebie when it’s your birthday:
Finding cheap train/travel:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/support-to-help-with-the-cost-of-transport/support-to-help-with-the-cost-of-transport (Bus/train discounts for young, unemployed & more)
Advice on a number of money-related issues (in-person appts. also available across Kent & Sussex):
More information on the Help to Save bonus: