Managing your money
Knowing how much you have coming in and what you need each week to cover your outgoings is the best place to start when you’re working out your budget. Having a clear idea of your income and outgoings doesn’t only give you peace of mind, it really can make all the difference between keeping in the black and out of the red.
These simple steps can help you plan your money and avoid getting into debt.
- Make a list of all the money coming into your household – you should also check to see if you might be entitled to certain benefits.
- List all of the outgoings for your household, such as rent, council tax, utility bills, phone contracts, food, travel, insurance, clothes, internet, online streaming services, e.g. Netflix, etc.
- This budget planner for the Money Advice Service can help you get a realistic view of what you actually spend (people nearly always underestimate)
Your household bills are your responsibility (unless it says in your tenancy agreement that they’re included in your rent or service charges).
- Council Tax – the amount you pay depends on the value of your home, where you live and how many adults are in your household. You can find out more online.
- Gas and electricity bills – these are priority bills. Read our tips to see how you can get better deals and save money on the cost of running your home. We also have lots of great tips for saving energy.
- Water charges – customers in London can find out more from Thames Water.
- Food and groceries – throwing away food is like throwing away money – in fact, did you know that on average a family of four throws about £60 worth of food away every month? Or that the 4.5 tonnes that we scrape into the bin each year could fill 38 million wheelie bins? For great tips on clever use of your leftovers, check out the love food hate waste website. Or see where the best supermarket deals are on the Money Saving Expert site. If you're struggling to manage your food bill, the Trussell Trust may be able to help. They run food banks nationwide – find out where they are and how you can access them.
Please remember that if you’re worried about money or would like to talk to someone in confidence, help is only ever a phone call away. You can call us on 0300 123 9966 or, if you prefer, email us with your concerns and we'll do our best to help or signpost you to other experts and sources of advice.
There are also lots of useful online resources. The Money Advice Service, set up by the government, is a great place to start, with lots of free and impartial money advice.