Living on a Budget

Managing money and making ends meet when you’re on a low income can be stressful, with proper planning and organisation you can gain a sense of control over your finances.

Feeling like you’re in control of what you’ve got coming in and going out helps you to worry less about your money. The best outcome would be the ability to save, even if it’s a few pounds a week it could be a great help if there’s a big emergency further down the line, e.g. needing to repair a car or replace an appliance.

Make a Budget

The first step to taking control of your money is working out your living costs, including knowing what’s coming in, what’s going out and when.

Making a budget gives you a clear picture of where your money goes and shows you where you might have a chance to save money.

It will also help you see whether you’re living within your means.

  • Before You Start

    Make sure you know your incomings and outgoings before you start. Bills and payslips may help with this.

  • Make a Budget

    If you haven’t already, make your own budget. A budget sheet can be found here and a guide to filling it out can be found here.

Look at ways to cut costs

It can be difficult to increase the amount of money you have coming in, but you have much more control over what goes out.

Research from Santander says, UK households spend an average of £3,329 per year, on their:

Council tax
Electricity, and
Broadband bills.

You can save hundreds of pounds by switching utility providers and shopping around for lots of things, including your groceries and holidays.

Claim all the benefits you’re entitled to

It’s easier than you might think to check that you’re getting all the benefits you’re entitled to if you’re on a low income.

Some benefits are one-off payments to help with a particular set of circumstances like cold weather payments.

Others, such as Income Support, top up your regular income.

There’s many benefit entitlement checkers available on the internet such as

Change Your Lifestyle

Sometimes we need to sit back and take a long look at our lifestyle, we all have spending vices from cigarettes to junk food. A lot of these things may be considered sacrifices, it’s up to you how much you sacrifice. For example somebody may eat takeaway food every single day of the week and it may cost them a lot more than cooking meals at home, an achievement for this person would be to try making a home cooked meal on a budget and seeing where it leads them. Suddenly deciding no more takeaway food might lead them to giving up and falling back into their habit.

There is also possible enjoyment to be had. Are you a big fan of KFC? Make a project out of it and try recreate KFC as close as possible, other people online would have had the same idea and listed all the spices used. Buy chicken affordable as possible (maybe a larger frozen portion or reduced) and learn to do it all yourself. KFC is just an example and any takeaway food could be used in it’s place.

What To Do Next

  1. Re-do your budget if anything has changed.
  2. Continue to try save money, maybe you weren’t able to change supplier but you might be able to eventually.
  3. If you’re still struggling, seek help.