In the coming months, many of us will seek to restructure our budgets or create new ones from scratch. Our data reveals that 38% of people managed to save more than they planned last year by making and sticking to a budget2. With this in mind, we’ve pulled together a detailed guide to help you find a suitable budget format and calculate your outgoings – we’ve also included further resources to ease any feelings of confusion or anxiety you might have.
1. Find a format
Whilst some find comfort in the trusty spreadsheet, others may prefer traditional written methods or modern budget apps built into your existing banking platforms. Whatever you choose, ensure your budget is easily accessible and well documented in case you need to tweak or refer to it in the future.
2. Calculate your monthly spend
Calculating your current spend and segmenting it can help put things into perspective. Estimate figures for your average monthly rent/mortgage, debt repayments, utility bills, food, travel, leisure activities and subscriptions. If you are struggling to be accurate, review receipts, credit or debit card statements and any standing orders you have set up.
3. Plot the estimated increase
Based on your recent bills from January, plot in the estimated increases for your monthly food shop, non-essentials, and energy bills. Don’t forget any milestones such as upcoming birthdays, holidays or anniversaries which may cause further expense. Once you arrive at the new figure, it’s time to compare this with your monthly income and explore your options through swaps and potential cutbacks. Price comparison websites are often useful and can help you speak to your insurance, phone or broadband providers directly, to ensure they are offering you the best deal.
4. Keep an eye out for relief and rebates
The Bank of England, HMRC and the Chancellor have introduced numerous packages to help specific groups with their bills and taxes over the coming year. Be sure to do your research and discover what relief you could be eligible for. For instance: those living alone, low-income earners, retirees and the unemployed can all apply for a council tax reduction. Those discounts won’t affect your eligibility for the government’s new £150 council tax payments starting in April (unless you’re exempt, like students).
5. Track your spending
It sounds obvious but being tighter with your non-essential spend can ‘make or break’ your new budget. Implement a daily or weekly cap and be disciplined when it comes to retail offers for items you don’t truly need. When you are ready to shop, check out discount code retailers for extra savings.
6. Discuss your options
Budgeting, saving and managing your finances is often viewed as a solitary, private activity. However, discussing household expenses with partners, flatmates or family can be crucial in finding a solution – our recent research found that 46% of savers, say talking helped them feel more relaxed about money woes3. Furthermore, some really benefit from social media groups and other platforms where savvy savers can publicly share budgeting tips and tricks which have worked for them. Money Helper has set up a monitored Facebook group for anyone looking to improve their budgeting skills.
- Budget planner by MoneyHelper
- Budget planner guide and tool by Martin Lewis’ MoneySavingExpert
- Tax relief guide from Which?
- Energy bills explainer by Martin Lewis’ MoneySavingExpert
- Full guide on energy bills and advice when energy firms go bust by Citizen’s Advice
- Full guide on how to save on household bills by MoneyHelper
- Free advice on issues with housing, employment, taxes and more by Advicelocal
- Expert advice on dealing with debt and contact details for StepChange Debt Charity
1 Research was carried out online by Opinium Research amongst 2,002 UK adults between 14th-18th January 2022. The results are weighted to nationally representative criteria.
2 Research was carried out online by Opinium Research amongst 2,002 UK adults between 14th-18th January 2022. The results are weighted to nationally representative criteria
3 Research conducted by Opinium and commissioned by RCI Bank featuring 2,001 UK adults on the 17th – 20th August 2021