A budget is simply an idea of incomings vs. outgoings. Making one is no where near as much fun as blowing it, but having a bank balance of zero is a lot less enjoyable. Budgeting will help you:
💰 Save more money - no more penny-pinching before payday
🏆 Reach your goals - like paying off debt or saving for something big
🧐 Be smarter with your spendings - know when to treat yourself and when to cut back
🌳 Invest your money - put a bit aside and grow your wealth
🧘 Feel more zen - worry less about money
🕵️ Identify problems - such as missing payments or fraud
To calculate the size of your budget, you could make a spreadsheet or write everything down on paper. There are also some great tools online, like this one from Natwest.
Some people find budgeting apps useful - there are loads out there that link up to your bank accounts via Open Banking and automatically update as you earn and spend.
These are some of our favourites, and they're all free:
Alternatively, digital banks like Monzo and Starling Bank integrate easy-to-use budgeting features into their apps, including savings pots and spendings analytics.
Step 1: work out your income
Seems like an easy one, but do you actually know the figure? If you have a regular income it should be more straightforward, but don’t forget other income such as interest earned on savings or tips and bonuses. Remember to use the net pay figure on your payslip, since that’s the amount you’ll get once tax has been taken off.
If the amount you earn changes each month, we recommend using your minimum monthly income so that you won’t risk overspending.
In the same vein, if some of your income is paid annually rather than monthly, we would suggest excluding it from your budget until you have the money in your account.
Step 2: know where your money goes
Divide your spendings up into categories. An example list could look like this:
You should prioritise your spendings in order of importance, with priority spendings at the top. This will help you gauge needs vs wants and give you a better idea of where you could cut back.
Priority spendings normally include:
Step 3: compare and adjust
If your spending is higher than your income, you need to figure out where you can save money. Often, small changes can make a big difference. Perhaps there’s a gym membership that you don’t use, or maybe taking public transport instead of calling an uber.
You should always put money towards priority spending first. It can be tempting to put off paying back debt in favour of other things, though remember that it's a priority for a reason - not paying off debt can have big repercussions on your financial health, affecting your credit score and ability to get things like a mortgage.
If your income is higher than your spending, that's great! This is the amount you can invest, use on non-priority spending, or put by for a rainy day. Unexpected expenses and emergencies can hugely impact your budget, so it's always a good idea to have a bit of money put by.
It’s good practice to constantly review your budget, since it will change with time. Your car might have an unexpected breakdown, or you might get a promotion at work.
Mind are wonderful with all things mental health, money worries included.