Being in control of your money means having a strong budget in place – that way, you know that all of your bills and other expenses are accounted for from what you’re bringing in. If you’re on a really tight budget and you don’t have much money leftover at the end of the month, this can make it really difficult if you suddenly have an expense you hadn’t factored in.
That’s why it could be a good idea to try and save up a rainy day fund, so that you’ll be able to cover any unexpected bills. Don’t worry if you find it really difficult to put any money aside – we’ll show you how just a few little savings could make a difference.
Making a budget
First off, you’ll need to put together a budget so you can work out whether you can afford all of your expenses from your income. Start by writing down everything you’ve got coming in in a month – that’s your earnings after income tax and any benefits you receive. Next, you’ll need to make a list of everything you have to pay out – all of your bills, credit repayments and insurance payments. Factor in any extra financial commitments that you pay less frequently, like your TV licence.
Subtract your total outgoings from your earnings and the amount you’re left with is your disposable income – this is the amount you’ve got free to spend on whatever you like. For more tips on putting together a budget for you, check out our guide to budgeting.
If you can afford your bills and other expenses from what you’re bringing in, that’s certainly good news – it means you’re not struggling to make ends meet. However, if you’re only just managing to cover your financial commitments and you’ve got very little disposable income left every month, this could be a warning sign that your finances are unstable.
After all, it could only take one unexpected bill – the car breaking down or the washing machine packing in – to push you over budget. That’s why you should try to put aside some money to help cover the expenses you just can’t plan for.
Take a look at your budget and try and identify any key areas where you could cut back. For example, could you take a packed lunch to work and stop spending on food from the canteen? Or could you cancel the gym membership and get fit for free? Whatever you decide, make sure it’s realistic – there’s no point pledging to spend nothing on travel when you know this just isn’t going to happen.
The thinkmoney Personal Account could help you if you’ve got a bill to pay you didn’t expect. Just give one of our Money Managers a call and they’ll be able to take a look at your upcoming budgeting with you and identify any areas where you could free money up temporarily. The thinkmoney Personal Account has a monthly management fee of £17.50 a month – you can read more about the account here.