Managing your household bills can be a massive chore. You will probably feel as though you are trying to juggle dozens of balls, and you end up repeatedly dropping them. Nothing stays up in the air for a very long time. Your money goes in each month and goes straight back out again.
Catching a break can be very hard. However, there are ways that you can get your financial life back under control. With a bit of time, honesty, and self-discipline, you could get back on top of your expenses, and stay there. You might even find that you have more spare money than you knew you had.
Understand Where Your Money Goes To
One thing that seems to be universally true in life is that whatever your income, you will manage to spend all of it. You may look at your household expenses and think back to a time when you had less coming in, and you don’t seem to be any better off now. That is because we very often seem to have a way of spending anything that we have.
Plan Some Time To Go Through Your Expenses
If you have a partner who lives with you, you will need to get them to do this too. You will need to be very frank about your money situation, and acknowledge where you are spending unnecessary money. This can be a tough conversation to have, and there is always a chance it may lead to arguments. However, if you go into this problem, solving exercise with an agreement that you will both be honest, and non-judgemental, then you can make some real changes.
It may take some time to do this, and you should have your online banking open so that you can review every little bit of spending.
Start A Spreadsheet
You will need to open up a spreadsheet and start listing all of your outgoings. This should be done in order of priority, so include things like rent or mortgage payments at the top, then follow it up with essential household bills and any loan or credit card payments that you have.
Review Any Non Essential Items
Once you have listed everything that you need to spend each month, then you will need to go through everything that is non-essential. If you have any subscriptions or memberships, ask yourself if you are currently making the best use of them. If you are not, you may want to cancel them.
If you have an unused gym membership, be honest with yourself about if you will ever get around to using it. If you are not going to start going to the gym immediately, cancel this.
Look At Your Spending Habits
Going through your online banking will throw up some interesting revelations when it comes to spending habits. If you buy a coffee each day before work, that is probably over twenty coffees per month. You could take a travel cup with coffee from home for the entire month for the cost of one single coffee shop takeaway.
If you buy lunch out each day, think about making sandwiches, or reheat leftovers from the previous night’s meal. This will save you a considerable amount of money.
These are things that you can quickly learn to live without. They are not essential, and there are more economical ways of enjoying similar treats in your daily life.
Whenever you sign up to a new supplier, they put you onto their best tariff. They hook you in, before eventually sneaking your prices back up to the same amount as their existing customers. Very often, loyalty is not rewarded, and by staying put, you end up out of pocket.
You need to shop around and switch suppliers. You should do this for your gas, electric, phone, and broadband. There are much better deals to be had, and you need to be on them.
Don’t be afraid to ditch your new supplier too if a better offer comes along, or the preferential rates cease to exist. Check your agreements before signing up, or making a switch. You ideally don’t want to be locked into anything that you can’t get out of.
Make Your Home More Economical
There are a few things that you can do to make your home more energy-efficient. You could install a panel heater to give you warmth for less cost. Fit smart meters, and more accurate thermostats to take better control of the money that you are spending out. You may want to install dimmers, or devices that allow you to control your appliances on a timer, or via an app.
Get into better habits. Switch your electrical items off when they are not in use, and make sure you don’t leave lights on when you are not in the room. Turning your heating down by a fraction can save you a great deal of money, and if the home is only slightly chilly, consider putting on a jumper rather than using the heating.
Set Spending Budgets For Your Food
Once you have been through all of your expenses, you will need to work out how much you can afford to spend on food each month. Be strict with the amount that you set yourself and plan all of your meals. By giving yourself strict, set meals, you will not only eliminate the kind of indecisive behaviour that may lead to you buying a takeaway, but you will be able to stay on a budget much easier.
Your meal plan will help you to make a full shopping list which you should stick to religiously. Don’t be tempted by the special offers on the ends of supermarket aisles for all of the products that you did not come in to buy.
Improve your spending habits, and you will find that you have money to spare. You can use this for buying yourselves treats or even to save for something more exciting. The possibilities will be much greater if you start to manage your finances more effectively.