Taking the time to manage your money better can really pay off. Learning to budget can help you stay on top of your bills and save €1,000s each year. You might be able to use savings to pay off any debts, put them towards your pension, or spend them on your next car or holiday. 

How to set up a budget

The first step to taking control of your finances is doing a budget.

It will take a little effort, but it’s a great way to get a quick snapshot of the money you have coming in and going out.

Setting up a budget means you’re:

  • >less likely to end up in debt 
  • >less likely to get caught out by unexpected costs
  • >more likely to have a good credit rating
  • >more likely to be accepted for a mortgage or loan
  • >able to spot areas where you can make savings
  • >in a great position to save up for a holiday, a new car, or another treat.

What you need

To get started on your budget, you’ll need to work out how much you spend on:

  • >household bills
  • >living costs
  • >financial products, like insurance, bank charges or interest
  • >family and friends, this could include gifts, travel to events like weddings
  • >travel, car costs like fuel and MOT tests as well as public transport
  • >leisure, including holidays, gym fees, meals out or other entertainment.

Getting your budget back on track

If you’re spending more than you have coming in, you need to work out where you can cut back.

This might be as easy as making your lunch at home or cancelling a gym membership you don’t use.

You could also keep a spending diary and keep a note of everything you buy in a month.

Or, if you do most of your spending with a credit or debit card, look at last month’s statement and work out where your money is going.

Get everyone involved

Get everyone in your family involved with keeping to a budget.

Sit down together and make a plan that you can all stick to.

Work out how much spending money is available and agree between you what you’ll each have.

Cutting your household bills and your mortgage

For many of us, household bills make up a large chunk of our spending. Life is unpredictable so try to review your budget and your spending if there’s a change, or at least every couple of months.

You might get a pay rise, which means you can save more, or you might find your household bills increase.

The good news is that it’s easy to save hundreds of pounds on your bills by following our tips.

Set a savings goal

It might be hard to think about setting aside any money as savings, but at the very least it’s a good idea to try and have some emergency savings.

Emergency savings is money to fall back on if you have an emergency, such as a boiler breakdown or if you can’t work for a while.

You want to be able to pay for an unexpected repair, but it’s also important to have enough money for a few months in a sticky situation.

Say you lost your job or split up with your partner, and needed some time to get back on your feet – you’ll want a bit more than the cost of a new boiler or washing machine.

Don’t worry if you can’t save this straight away but keep it as a target to aim for.

The best way to save money is to pay some money into a savings account every month.

Once you’ve set aside your emergency fund, possible savings goals to consider might include:

  • >buying a car without taking out a loan
  • >taking a holiday without having to worry about the bills when you get back
  • >having some extra money to draw on while you’re on maternity or paternity leave.

Investing your savings

As your savings start to grow, you can:

  • >put more money into your pension; it’s a great way to make sure you’ll be able to live more comfortably later in life
  • >make an investment plan based on your goals and timeframes.