Family Budgeting: The basics
The Covid-19 Pandemic has hit many family budgets hard already. And since the global economy is likely to suffer from the aftermath for some time to come, it would be useful to sit down and work out a family budget for the next year.
STEP ONE: WORK OUT EXACTLY WHAT YOU ARE SPENDING YOUR MONEY ON
This is not only useful in identifying areas that you can then deal with in turn, it also helps spot items of spending that, in the cold light of day, you realize you don’t really need – and won’t miss when they are gone.
Anyway, the items on most lists are:
- rent or mortgage
- community charge
- credit cards and loans
- utility bills
- food and other household
- going out
You may have more things you want to add, such as newspapers and magazines, gym membership, or the latte on the way to work.
STEP TWO: HOW DO YOU WANT TO SAVE?
This is less of a stupid question than you think. Essentially, there are three ways:
- you stick with exactly the same lifestyle as before, but do it more cheaply
- you cut things out of your budget that are unnecessary
- a combination of the two
STEP THREE: GETTING THE SAME FOR LESS
Most of us don’t always go for the best-value option when paying our way through life. So it makes sense to have a bit of a financial spring clean.
This is almost always one of the most expensive items of spending in any household. If you are not already on a special deal, check the market for best offers:
Shopping around means you can almost always lop hundreds of pounds a year off the most common forms of household and family insurance: motor, home and contents, travel, life cover (especially if you last took some out a few years ago).
Most of us tend to stick with our gas, electricity, telephone, broadband and mobile providers through thick and thin.
But shopping around for a better deal will literally cut up to £200 a year off your bills, sometimes a lot more.
Most of us are within a few miles’ driving distance of several big supermarket chain stores. Mysupermarket is a website that compares prices for all the items on your weekly shopping list and tells you who offers the cheapest deal.
STEP FOUR: CUTTING BACK
There’s no question that there are some things you will barely miss or worry about if you do cut back. Here are a few tips to help you.
- Reduce the heating by one or two degrees centigrade could save up to £40 a year.
- Turning off all unnecessary lights and also telephone chargers, computers, DVD players and TVs on stand-by, can save up to £120 a year.
- Buying own-brand items in a supermarket will shave up to 15 per cent off your normal weekly shopping bill, assuming the items are comparable. In many cases, they are made by the same branded manufacturer.