This could be your pocket money, or your monthly allowance or your income.
Many people these days use online banking. If you do, download the last statement for the last complete month and open it up as a spreadsheet. If you do not have online banking, and your bank sends you monthly statements, then enter it into a spreadsheet. For pocket money or allowances, enter the amount that you regularly receive.
Now sort the spreadsheet into types of transaction. This will separate your income from your regular outgoings and your extra expenditure. From this spreadsheet, it is now clearly easy to where the money goes every month.
As Mr. Micawber famously said
"Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery"From which you can see, if you spend more than you earn, then you will be miserable!
So, now you know how much of your income goes out on things that you can not avoid, like rent/mortgage, travel, utility bills, kids etc. And after this, whatever is left is your budget for the month. I hope there is something left.
Look carefully through the monthly expenses. Are there any items that can be easily reduced? Do you pay too much for insurance? Can you cut down on any other bills by switching to another company? The moneysavingexpert website is very good for searching for money saving deals.
If you have been following my budget food posts, then hopefully you can make some savings with the week's food budget to opt for cheaper alternatives, or to cut down on waste.
Once you have made as many savings as possible, then work out an amount of money which you can safely spend over the month.
For food expenses, to live within a budget the key is to plan. You can not plan every single meal or allow for emergencies and unexpected invitations, but in general, you know that you will have three meals a day and these can be planned in advance. This way you can decide how much you will spend on your food budget for the month.
A good way to live on a budget is to leave all debit and credit cards at home. Because we are survivors, we do not cut up our cards or anything so drastic, but we stay prepared for all emergencies. If we only carry the exact money in our bags or pockets that we need to spend, then it will be much harder to overspend. It really feels like spending if you have to hand over the actual money instead of just giving your card. For some reason, the card seems to be detached from you and your bank account. So even people with not very much money happily hand over cards to buy things they do not need. But if you really have to give someone £58 in cash, then you actually feel it!
So, cut down where you can.
Work out how much you can reasonably spend per week or day and carry that amount with you.
It is very easy to get out of the spending habit if you have to use cash.
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