Budgeting and Being Budget Conscious

Growing up my family has never been well off but at the same time I never remember a time where we have gone without. Sure there have been tough times for my mum, however, she always made sure that we had everything we needed both food wise as well as toys, days out and holidays when we could afford them. I would even go as far to say we grew up comfortably. We had help at school with finances for example, free school meals. However, I feel that this has made us all realise how hard it can be when living away from home on your own incomes.

This has always been in the back of my mind and I wanted to earn my money and help my mum out when I live out of the family home and for when she starts to get older. I would love for her to be able to not have to work as she knows that she would be able to depend on us and that she is able to do whatever she wants to and live where she wants without worrying about whether she is able to afford it or having to worry about if she has to continue working into her elderly years.

This did seem all too easy, I was in a decent paying job for my age as well as working pretty decent hours on weekends and within the holidays of college. I moved out with my boyfriend in November 2017 and therefore that summer was spent saving for rent and bills needed for the first month or two. This seemed easy as the summer of 2017 I was working 6 days a week and double shifts just over half the time which meant I was in at 6am until 11am then two hours break and back in 1pm until 8,9 or even 10pm. Although this meant I was able to save money as well as pay for a holiday I do wish I had started to put money away and watched my budget and bills coming out each month a lot sooner.

Having moved out it has become a lot harder to be able to save or even earn enough money myself to have money left over at the end of the month. Whilst when I first started out after transferring stores I was given enough shifts to help me live as soon as supermarkets deal with summer and Christmas the money that is given to the stores for overtime shifts is decreased. This means that there isn’t a great deal I am able to apart from working the hours that are given.

In these times it is more prevalent than ever to have a budget in place and if it was not for Matt being in the position he is in the store we more than likely would not have been able to stay in our own place for long. This is even harder when you want to leave the job you are currently in, your studying online and you have no money to be able to go out and take your mind off things. These are the times where I find having a budget and knowing what my outgoings are, are the most important. I have looked online to find the ways I can do this as well as trying to figure out what actually works out for me and what doesn’t.

I watched a YouTube video by a woman who has a family of 5 and she shows how she budgets and the ways in which she is able to keep on top of her budget with a family. It was watching these videos when trying to work out how to budget that helped me and although I do not earn enough to have money left over at the end of the month, I can say now that I feel I have a basic enough knowledge to be able to keep on top of my budget and figure out ways I can alter when more money comes into our bank accounts. I was able to take these suggestions and adapt them to make them work for me.

How I budget is a way that has taken many months to be able to figure out. Personally, I have found it a lot easier to look at pay checks if they are available or even make your own rough pay check using the amount of hours you have worked between the last time you were paid and the next time you are paid. For me this is every four weeks, therefore the date in which Tesco pays their employees changes each month. For the past few months I have been viewing my pay check the day before getting paid however, this wasn’t really helping a great deal as I had one day to work out every expense as well as knowing I was not going to get paid what I wanted. Although I do still have a look at what I will be getting paid to see the exact amount I have got into a habit of writing down in both a diary and in a journal when I am working, the hours I am working, what hours will be paid (Tesco do not pay for the time on breaks) and using rate of pay what I estimate to be paid each day.

I also really like to use this to see what my outgoings would be over the next four weeks using the estimated amount of money I would have earned. This has helped massively especially over the Christmas period as well as through January where money is always that little bit tighter.

I have done this both for the coming month as well as over the coming year. As I am away from the 20th of January until the 25th of January to complete my Personal Training course in Bristol this has given me extra expenses in January which this coming pay check needs to count towards. By knowing what my outgoings are compared to my income I am able to see what money I have to last until the next pay day. Eventually I would love to be able to break to pay day to pay day cycle so that I am not constantly looking and wondering if I am able to live comfortably without worrying what money I have to last the rest of the month.

The ways I do this is by writing down all the events that are happening each month in the coming year that will mean a larger amount of money is being spent. I like to do this as I am able to have a quick look at the year as a whole and see each month what events are happening. These events can include anything from birthdays, holidays to valentines day and Christmas. At the side of each of these birthdays I like to write whose birthday it is as well as what I am thinking of purchasing for them. This will help me to ensure that my spending has not got out of hand and it will also mean that we know the months where there aren’t a great deal of events happening and we can plan to out aside a little more money in order to help with other expenses such as holidays, putting money aside to pay for a house or even just putting that spare money to the side for the months where there are multiple events happening and money may be a little tighter than we would want it to be.

However, every four weeks along with getting paid Matt and I tend to do one big grocery shop which gets delivered to us and then when we need more bread or milk we get little top up shops that are no more than £20. This helps as we are then able to get on top of what food we are eating. When doing these shops we have found that if we meal plan before we complete the shop we tend to buy what we need and nothing more. It also means that we do not change what we are having for dinner each night as the ingredients have been sorted and have already been bought. A key concept of majority of the meals that are thought up are meals that can be frozen and batch cooked in order for them to last longer and more meals being sorted for the future.

I would definitely recommend sitting down at least once or twice a week to look at outgoings that week or even to spend some time finding ways that you enjoy using to be able to budget or even ways that can help a person watch what they are spending their money on. In the near future, by using my budgeting ideas I am hoping that my finances will be able to increase and be a lot steadier throughout the month and having enough money left over to be able to do things with friends.

Finally, I want to say that even if your finances are in a lot better shape at this moment in time it is always wise to have a budget in place and savings available so that if there happens to be a hard time you always have something to fall back onto to help you out. I would also go as far to say to always be aware of finances even if you are still living at home and have just started their first job or if you are a grown adult in their own home. I do feel that everyone should start to save a lot earlier as they would then have money aside for holidays or anything that is wanted in the future. I personally wish that I had saved money from each pay check when I started to get paid as that way there would be a potential that I would be a little better off now than I might have been.

There are many ways to find different budget strategies and ways to budget on YouTube and there are also some great strategies on Pinterest which will also give various ways to budget. A few of these are linked below:

YouTube Links:

How Ash Jackson Budgets

Ash Jackson’s Christmas Budget Tips

Pinterest Links:

Natalie Bacon’s Ways to Improve Finances

Shannon’s Tips on Not Living Paycheck to Paycheck

Much Love,

Caitlin x

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