For most people the first step in controlling their spending is to create a budget to understand where their money goes and if they have anything left over for emergencies or special occasions.

How to create a budget

You can find a helpful, free budget planner on the Money Advice Service website.

Keeping track of your expenses

One of the easiest ways to keep track of your money is to use a money diary. This could simply be jotting down your monthly income and all your known outgoing expenses in a notebook with headings (ie: when?, how much?, what you paid for? etc).

Saving for special occasions and those unexpected ‘rainy days’

To ensure you have enough money leftover to meet any additional or unexpected expenses, you need to take control of your finances.

  • Don’t get carried away or give in to pressure from; TV advertising, the press or family and friends when it comes to setting a budget for birthdays, Christmas or any other expense that’s in addition to your essential monthly outgoings like rent.
  • Visit the Money Advice Service for guidance on how you can save money.
  • If you keep within your monthly budget (and have included a small allowance for savings) you’ll soon have enough put away for that special occasion or rainy day.

Saving small amounts well in advance, before something needs replacing, gives you the peace of mind that you’ll be able to afford it when the inevitable happens. To calculate how much you need to save, why not try this simple exercise against all your current appliances and gadgets:

  1. Make a list of all your appliances/gadgets

  2. Estimate how long you think each item will last you

  3. Find out how much a replacement will cost for each item

  4. Download and print this helpful savings calculator to calculate what you need to put by for your rainy day (it’s so much more affordable if you try to save a little bit each month rather than have to meet the total cost on the day itself)

Money Saving Tips

There are countless ways to save money, for example:

  • closing your curtains reduce energy bills
  • walking to work or car sharing reduces travel expenses
  • shopping with a list (and sticking to it) avoids the additional expense of impulse buys
  • shop around - being a loyal customer can cost you more money than going elsewhere for the same item or service (for instance; regularly check you’re getting the best deal from your current gas and electricity supplier)

Saving money depends entirely on what is possible for your own personal circumstances however there are organisations who can help. For example: