Take control of your finances by budgeting – Advice from BEN

Ben’s latest News Blog focuses on putting together a budget to give a snapshot of outgoings and help spot how to save money. When there a goal such as buying  a house, reducing debt or saving for a holiday, then budgeting is a good place to start.

To get the most out of a budget, it should be reviewed regularly to make sure it still accurately reflects income and expenses.

Before starting, take some time to dig out any information that could help calculate income and expenses. This could include:

  • Payslips
  • Rent/mortgage payments
  • Bills
  • Insurance
  • Grocery receipts

The Ben website has a useful online tool that can be used to calculate expenses. It produces a handy downloadable pie chart that shows the proportions of income spent on each outgoing.  CLICK HERE  to give it a go.

If you’re not sure how much you spend on smaller outgoings, such as snacks and going out, try making a note of everything you buy for a month or keep receipts and add them all up after a few weeks. You might be surprised at how much you spend on the little things.

Identify potential cuts
Are there any expenses that can be reduced? Do you have a gym membership you don’t use? Can you reduce the number of coffees you buy each week? You might not realise that if you spend £2.20 on a latte five times per week, then it will cost you over £570 each year!

Keep these things in mind when putting together a budget. Rather than cutting them out completely, try setting a spending limit. Allowing some wiggle room may help achieve targets.

Putting a budget together
When budgeting, be as realistic as possible. Set money aside for essential expenses, such as food, bills and rent, and then divide up the rest between savings and treats.

If possible, allow some leeway for more expensive times of the year, for example Christmas time or when you need to buy essential items like a new pair of glasses.

Shop around
For most people, household bills make up a huge chunk of spending. Check to see if there are any providers that could offer cheaper services and see if they have any deals on for new customers.

The website, Which? has some great tips for reducing energy bills, including a tool to help find the best providers in your area.

Sticking to your budget
A good way to monitor day-to-day expenses is to download a budgeting app to your phone such as Expense Manager for Android or iPhone. You can set budgets for different types of expenses and monitor how much money you have left to play with.

If you go over budget one month, don’t beat yourself up about it. Work out why you couldn’t stick to it and see what you can do to improve during the next month. You can find more tips on sticking to budgets on Ben’s downloadable helpsheet.

Debt
If you’re struggling to make ends meet and find yourself slipping into debt, then seek advice as soon as possible. You can find more advice on subjects including priority debt and credit scores in Ben’s financial health section.

You can also contact Ben’s support team through their web chat or call the free and confidential Ben support line on 08081 311 333.

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