You’ve built a budget, but what next? In our final budgeting week article, we’re going to help you make sure the effort doesn’t go to waste.
If you’ve gone through all your bank statements and made a spending diary, you’ve hopefully got a pretty accurate budget. Plus, the Money Advice Service Budget planner tool will have shown you the end result. But budgeting doesn't stop there.
Video: Our money expert Andy Webb takes you through the three things that will help you use the budget once you’ve got it.
Three things to do once you’ve got a budget
Look for anything you’re surprised about
First, are you spending more than you earn? If so, you need to take a serious look at everything in the budget to find ways to switch that around.
But even if it’s the other way around, it’s still good to interrogate the items to see if you’re wasting your hard earned cash.
Do any figures stand out? When you add together a month’s worth of spending on different categories the actual total spend can be quite surprising.
It could be supermarket spending or clothes you buy. Perhaps small “invisible spends” on things like coffees, taxis or lunch each day. These are things you might be able to cut back on or reduce.
You can use the budget to set a total you’re willing or able to spend on these items, and then ensure you don’t go over that limit.
Involve people in the household
Don’t keep the budget to yourself. If other people are contributing cash – and spending it too – they need to know the state of your household finances and your plans to keep it in check.
This includes children too, as it’ll help them learn about where money goes, and how some expenses are more important than others.
Don’t forget about it
You don’t have to be updating the budget every day, but it’s definitely worth checking it every few months to make sure all is running as you expect.
It’s also worth reviewing the figures you’ve entered and your spending plans if life changes, such as losing your job or having a baby.
Do this and the budget will keep living and adapting with you and your life as it changes. If you keep coming back to it, it’ll be far easier to keep in control of your finances.