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If you're looking to improve your finances you've probably heard this many, many times, but the first step really is to set up a good budget. After all, how can you figure out where you can improve your spending habits if you don't know what you're spending your money on?

You might be thinking that drawing up and organising a budget is difficult and time consuming, but that's not necessarily true. If you do want a bit of help, thinkmoney has just launched a new, easy-to-use budget calculator.

Here's how it works:

  • Get everything you need together, like bank statements, pay slips, etc. You might need to get these things from your partner too if you're doing a budget for them as well.
  • Enter your earnings, including any benefits you receive and payments you get from your pension / annuity if you have one. You can enter these on a daily, weekly, 2-weekly, 4-weekly, quarterly or yearly basis.
  • When you move on, you'll be asked if you want to save your budget. Saving your budget may be useful if you want to come back and edit it in the future - for example, if some of your monthly costs change.
  • You can then enter how much you spend in various categories, including housing payments, food and drink, insurance, savings and investments, family and pets, clothing and other stuff.
  • You'll then be shown your total income, your total spending - and how much money you have left over each month to spend as you wish.

When you're finished you can choose to save this data to a spreadsheet, which you'll be able to go back to and edit any time you want. You can also just save it on the thinkmoney site and come back to it. This will be useful if you encounter new payments, or your current payments increase or decrease.

You can also email it to yourself for future reference.

If this still sounds too time consuming, or you think your finances are too complicated for the calculator, the thinkmoney Current Account has a built-in budgeting service that could help you. Our dedicated Money Managers would set up your account to make sure your important monthly payments are made, leaving you with the 'leftover' money that you can spend however you want, without worrying you're spending money you can't afford.

All you'd have to do is keep them up to date as your bills change - and make sure there's enough money going into the account, of course.

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