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    The basics: What you need to know about managing a budget

    Keeping on top of your finances is an essential part in the pursuit of leading a stress-free life. Money worries are one of the most common causes of concern for people in the UK and these worries are often created not through a lack of income, but from a misunderstanding of monthly budget requirements.

    Below are a few tips on how to start putting together your own personal budget – as well as how to manage it and have the discipline you need to follow your own monetary rules.

    Work out your income and outgoings

    The foundation of any budget comes through working out your predicted outgoings every month. Things such as energy bills, mortgage payments and direct debits should be listed together – and quarterly payments factored in too. Once you have a comprehensive list of your outgoings you should take this away from your estimated income every month, this will give you the amount of money you have left to spend.

    There are several budget calculators and planners online which can help you calculate these figures and come to an accurate conclusion on your spending.

    Problems occur when these outgoings are more than your income in which case you need reduce the amount that you’re spending every month or supplement your income to get more in (or maybe a max of both?). Using tips and tricks from sites such as Free Money can help you to be savvier when it comes to making a little extra cash to assist this.

    Question everything

    Once you’ve got a detailed view of your incomings and outgoings you can then start to question the specifics and make a real change to your situation.

    By being honest with yourself about your spending habits and asking the question “do I need this?” you can often dramatically cut back the amount your spending.

    These savings can be made through things such as ending expensive TV packages, cutting back on the number of takeaways ordered throughout the month and stopping monthly subscriptions from gifting companies.

    These are all nice to haves, but not essentials – and especially not if your budget doesn’t currently work.

    Be kind to yourself

    Sticking to a set budget is tough, so it’s worth giving yourself a bit of breathing space to accommodate the occasional lapse in monetary judgement. Ensuring a budget is realistic is the key to it being followed, so allowing yourself to spend a few extra pounds on extracurricular fun, while perhaps not optimal, makes sense in the long run.

    This is especially true when it comes to months with important dates included. Whether it’s a birthday, anniversary or Christmas time, loosening the purse strings for these times can ensure that you allow yourself to enjoy the festivities in a responsible manner, instead of throwing the budget out the window altogether.

    Budgets are best when they are considered part of everyday life and not a chore to be followed and these allowances can help a budget feel like that. Without this, you’re destined for a struggle.

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