Tips for keeping on top of household expenses by Jessica Foreman

Monday, 24 July 2017
Keeping track of all your income and outgoings can be tough. It’s not just the obvious big payments such as mortgage/rent and bills; it’s the many small and even tiny outgoings that build up, unabated and unchecked, until you stare at your statement and wonder how on earth you’ll get by this month. Here are several tips for keeping your head above water and setting your expenses right.

Make a template
There are many online templates that you could use, on spreadsheets or word processors or apps, that can enable you to instantly check what money is coming in and what is going out. Huffington Post has a selection of great templates here, requiring you to input your purchases to track your daily expenses.

You may still have to make some decisions when it comes to the granularity of these templates – for example, do you break down groceries into individual items or leave them as one entry? What about cash withdrawals from the ATM – will you list ‘£100 withdrawal’, or break down what it was spent on? If you’re really having issues keeping track, then you might need to log what you purchased and also why. This can then be taken further forward…

Planning ahead
If you can find time at the start of the week to plan ahead, and know where money is likely to go and when, you’ll experience a number of benefits. You should be less likely to be caught out by bills and fall into debt or be stung by late payment charges. You’ll be able to plan for meals, which means that you’re less likely to waste food and throw items away. You’ll be able to designate time to search for vouchers and offers and, essentially, that hour or two on a Sunday morning will allow you to streamline your entire week. Also, throw away those menus for takeaway meals – they’re unhealthy and expensive, and you’ll only get new ones posted through your door soon enough anyway.

Saving costs
There are many ways in which you might be able to trim down weekly and monthly costs. One example is driving to work, which can be an expensive business. Car pooling (sharing with others) will trim costs in half if viable, and public transport may be much cheaper if a little less convenient. Even selling your car and trading it for a cheaper, more efficient model might save you money in the long run, if not immediately. Being wiser with heating and electricity costs, searching for better deals for insurance and other monthly outgoings, or cancelling them altogether (gym, subscriptions etc.) will soon boost your accounts.

Get organised
The danger is that if these costs are not met then ultimately your home could be in danger of repossession, although there are methods to stop this (find out how). However, the better method is to eliminate superfluous costs before it’s too late. Are there any payments that you regularly miss, such as credit card payments or bills? If so, set up direct debit payments to make sure you’re not stung. Set them up to take the money shortly after your salary is paid. Or, if you need a breather, ask the lender if you can defer payments for a month via telephone - you’d be surprised how many will lend a sympathetic ear.

Jessica Foreman is a Durham University graduate specialising in business and lifestyle based writing. She has developed her skills on projects surrounding The British Broadcasting Company, and running a print and online based magazine whilst at university. She is currently looking towards starting her Masters in Mobile and Personal Communications as well as broadening her horizons through travelling.