MONTHLY BUDGET PLANNER
It might not be fun, but a simple monthly household budget like this is the bedrock of good finances
There’s a secret to juggling a limited budget. It’s about dividing those expenses into costs we cannot avoid, bills we must pay but can control, essentials we could get cheaper, and things we want to make life easier. We have to think long-term as well as short-term. It only works if we promise not to stick our heads in the sand and live for today.
To create your own budget, type in the income and expense figures for your household in the relevant boxes below. If you know the monthly amount, use the first column. If you know the annual amount, use the right hand column. We’ll auto-fill the other box, so you can see both the monthly and annual amounts. At the end, you’ll be able to check you have more coming in than going out. You can print or save your completed budget.
Income Monthly Total: £0.00
Cannot Avoid Monthly Total: £0.00
Things like RENT and COUNCIL TAX cannot be avoided. If we want a place to live, we have to pay for it. If you consider TV an essential, then the TV LICENCE goes here. These are the things that if we don’t pay, sooner or later may end up in court and a conviction, or even eviction.
Can Control Monthly Total: £0.00
GAS, ELECTRICITY and WATER RATES (if you have a water meter) are things you can control. DEBTS you owe might sit here as there are options for reducing them, even if repayments must still be made each month. There’s lots of advice about ways to cut down these costs by reducing energy or water use. Debt advice agencies, Citizens Advice or www.moneysavingexpert.com can help you minimise what it costs to pay off debt.
Can Cut Monthly Total: £0.00
These are not luxuries but things like FOOD, CLOTHES, TRANSPORT, KIDS’ STUFF and general shopping items. Once we’ve budgeted for the Cannot Avoid items and looked at what we Can Control (and set goals for reducing the bills), we need to look at spending smarter. Changing to own-brand groceries and buying/cooking in bulk and freezing future meals can save a chunk. Going online or opting for second hand can save a fortune on clothes, toys and games. Taking a walk instead of a short drive or bus trip will help, too. Put what you save into What Makes Life Easier.
Makes Life Easier Monthly Total: £0.00
It’s up to you how you spend any money left over. Many of us fancy a SMOKE, a PINT or a night of TV to help us cope with strife. And it’s not just the unhealthy stuff. A gym membership might have to go, as might the car or trips out with the kids. But if the money’s not there we can go without, and no-one’s going to come after us if cutting back starts here.
MONTHLY BUDGET SUMMARY
ANNUAL BUDGET SUMMARY
If ‘what’s left’ is a positive number, that’s what we should have left over each month. If it doesn’t feel like that each month, check the figures above in more detail. If it’s about right, think about what to do with what’s left over. Could we save it? If so, let’s set ourselves a target and maybe see if we could save more by reducing our spending.
If ‘what’s left’ is a minus figure, then we’re short. It’s time to take action. The hard part is facing up to this and we’ve done the hard part, but let’s just double-check we’ve included absolutely everything. The first step now is to decide what things to cut back on and explore how to maybe find more income each month. If we can’t get to a positive figure, we need to talk to someone like a money advice charity or search through the pages at quidsinmagazine.com for ideas.
If we have debts and we can’t even meet the minimum repayments, we need help right away. Contact a debt advice charity like a local Citizens Advice office, National Debt Helpline or Stepchange. See our Useful Numbers page here.
If you haven’t taken it already, check out our Future-Proof Finance Quiz to explore ways to cut back and boost your income.
Would you like to print a copy of your budget?
Want to save your Quids in! Budget Planner? Simply press ‘Print’ and select ‘Save as PDF’ or the closest option your browser offers.
A good budget helps us:
- Work out if our books balance
- Set a spending limit to stick to each month
- See clearly who we need to pay first
- Spot things we might cut back on
- Present our problems to debt advice charity or people we owe money to
We are not alone:
- More than 1 in 4 tenants have taken advice on budgeting and making ends meet
- 18 people per minute turn to Citizens Advice for help with their finances
- Average household spend per week: £588
- 95% of school leavers are believed to leave school without good money skills
- Average cost of gas/ electric per household: £3.43 per day
- Minimum earnings required for a single person for a decent living standard: £16,200
- Average cost of transport: £92.70 per week
- A shocking 1 in 2 (48%) social tenants skip meals due to money worries or turn off heating despite being cold (51%)
- 68% feel frightened, anxious or depressed because of money worries
When creating a budget, we don’t need to sweat the small stuff. Although every penny counts, sometimes we can only provide our best guess about our spending.
One thing we can do is keep a spending diary. For a couple of weeks, write down every penny we spent and what it was on. Sometimes it’s surprising where it all goes. We can use a notebook or this Spending Diary from Quids in!
HELP ON HAND
There is loads of help available online. For a list of the main places to turn to, visit our Useful Links here.