How to Live Your Life on a Budget

by Evan on June 27, 2016

Are you in complete despair when reviewing your monthly expenses? Realistically it’s not surprising, for last year the minimum total of expenses for a UK region was a shocking £427.50; with the highest total being £616.30 in Greater London.

If you’re concerned about your finances, perhaps it’s time to cut corners through comprehensive spending to ultimately save those costs. Check out this guide on how to live life on a budget without sacrificing quality.

Road to Change 

Create a Plan:

First off, there’s no point mindlessly jumping straight into altering your finances with no considerations, for you are effectively changing your entire lifestyle. You still need to live, so boycotting all expenditures will simply fail. Start by creating a plan that covers all your current overheads to work out A) how much you’re spending and B) what’s costing the most. Software like Excel is brilliant for producing spreadsheets that are easy to interpret.

Suit Your Circumstances: 

One scheme of planning definitely won’t suit everyone, so make sure yours suits you. Take into account when you get paid (i.e. weekly, bi-weekly or monthly) to ensure your smarter spending complies. Another important factor to reflect on is the amount of people living in your home. Naturally if you live alone you’ll have fewer essential expenses than a family of four so set a limit per person to create an overall figure.

Set Goals:

Once you’re aware of the individual expenses, start setting some goals that’ll help you achieve and most importantly, stick to your targets. These need to be sensible and realistic, for example – reduce expenses on groceries by £50 a month. Putting these goals in a visible place like the refrigerator or a pin board will ensure everyone in the household is aware of these goals; increasing your chances of everyone sticking to them.


Separate Wants From Needs:

Be honest, how many items do consider a need when they actually aren’t? A need is something you simply couldn’t survive without (food, water & shelter); whereas a want covers the things you desire to have that you realistically could live without (expensive holidays and designer clothes). Categorising these separately will ensure you’re saving on the wants and focusing more on the needs.

Food

Create a Food Budget:

The average UK household spends approximately £60.00 a week on groceries, that’s over £3,100 per year… Considering a family with children throws away £700.00 worth of food annually, perhaps you’re buying way more than necessary. Implement a weekly or monthly food budget that sets a limit per person in the household to make the budgeting fairer and easier to manage. Also if you want to be really thorough, it might be beneficial to research each supermarket to gain a comparison on which will work best for you. In May 2016 Aldi once again triumphed over all six leading UK supermarkets, ranking £10.68 cheaper than ASDA and over £20.00 cheaper than Sainsbury’s.

Buy Multipurpose Foods:

Stocking up on your staples is a brilliant solution to making food last longer. Always having staples means you’ll have a variety of cheap meals to cook, allowing you to focus the rest of your food budget on fresh produce. Some great staple foods include:

– Rice

– Cooking oil (light olive oil)

– Butter

– Eggs

– Frozen vegetables

– Tinned fish

– Tinned tomatoes

– Dry beans

– Pasta

– Spices

 

Less Meat:

 

You can save money by skipping the meat and going vegetarian. A recent study identified a vegetarian diet can save you up to £530.00 a year in comparison to a meat diet. However, if you’re not prepared to go cold turkey on the meat, try incorporating some vegetarian meals throughout the week to reduce meat consumption. Cheaper cuts can be sourced through economy meat (sausages, chicken wings, mince and even organ meat), combine these with vegetables to produce both tasty and cheap stews, casseroles, soups and bakes.

 

Purchase in Season:

Fruit & vegetables are at their cheapest in season, so as it is summer you could focus on purchasing: strawberries, cherries, cauliflower, mangetout and asparagus. Thankfully there are vegetables that grow all year: carrots, potatoes, cabbage, celery and sweet potatoes as they can withstand the winter months.

Luxury Alternatives

Exercise for Free:

The UK wastes a total of £37 million a year on unused gym memberships, and with the average membership costing a gym-goer £442.00 annually, are you really getting the most out of yours? Ditch the gym and workout at home for free. Plan your own weekly workout routine (e.g. Monday – run for two hours, Tuesday – do an hour of aerobics, etc.) You could even set up an exercise group that meets in the park every week if you prefer a group workout.

 

 

Eat Meals at Home:

According to a recent study Britons spend £4,000.00 a year on dining out, that’s a ¼ of the average annual living income! Saving leftovers is a great way to avoid having to cook and not spending a fortune in a restaurant. Planning a weekly menu at home will ensure the time duration of each meal complies with your daily schedule.

Ditch the Habits:

Smoking is not only unhealthy, but it costs a fortune. In 2015, an average 20-a-day smoker spent £3,000.00 on cigarettes, that’s almost a year’s worth of food.  This will test how determined you are, for kicking a habit is never easy, but dedication will always prevail. Another habit you could kick are all those work morning coffees. Buying a coffee everyday costs you £519.00 a year, so either invest in a flask or wait until you get to the office.

Clothing Cutbacks:

Clothes are always something we have more of than we actually use; making them a fantastic cost cutting solution. Before you purchase new clothes go through your old garments and choose between the ones you do and don’t wear. Try selling these at car boots or online, that way you can reinvest any money earnt into new garments. Sticking to sale racks and avoiding expensive clothing is essential for making your money go further; the beauty of fashion nowadays is the versatility -nothing ever really ages.

Homemaking

Purchase Inexpensive Furnishings:

There is absolutely no need to splash out on brand new furniture when there are fantastic alternative methods, for example – instead of purchasing a new oak wood cupboard for storage when you can buy plastic containers for considerably cheaper; these can even be decorated with wrapping paper for extra appeal.

Fix & Update Instead of Replace:

Shabby chic furniture is extremely popular right now, so don’t throw away and replace broken furniture, try fixing them instead. If the legs on old chairs are coming loose then retighten the joints; don’t throw them away for the sake of a little DIY. When things the kitchen cupboards are looking tiresome and outdated, add a coat of paint to revamp them.

Energy Saving Solutions:

It costs 7.3p to run ten lightbulbs for an hour, and although this doesn’t seem like a huge amount the cost quickly adds up. To prevent the gradual cost increase, optimise natural lighting for as long as possible by opening the curtains and cleaning your windows. In the colder months, turn down the heating and opt for blankets and hot water bottles for added comfort without the added heating bill.

Accessorise Inexpensively:

Accessorising your home doesn’t need to involve fancy cushions and overpriced candles. Add house plants for extra colour and freshness; these can be purchased very cheaply at almost all supermarkets for considerably less than gardening shop prices. Picture frames are also great for brightening up plain walls without having to purchase expensive wallpaper. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you could sew your own cushion and sofa covers for a sense of uniqueness, discarded pieces of fabric can be purchased from most charity shops for a fraction of their original price.

 

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