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Pennies in purse

Disposable income looking low? See how you stack up with your region

After bills and essentials are paid for, people are left with around 9.9% of their salary, an average of £236 per person.

For Scots, this is an average of of £256 each month, 11.1% of their salary. Londoners closely follow, with 10.0% of their income left over each month, or £311, according to a report by Scottish Friendly.

In Northern Ireland, it's 8.0% of their salary, or £165.

Where does your money go?

Are you guilty of spending money on the non-essentials, like a Friday night takeaway, forgetting you still have your electricity bill to pay? 

If you find yourself struggling, a budget can help you find out where your spending money is going and how you can boost it. Budgeting is essentially just a way of keeping an eye on your incomings and outgoings to make sure you’re not left short. 

You may even spot something you forgot you still pay for – like that forgotten gym membership or magazine subscription. Keeping track can also stop you getting into a spiral of spending.


Boosts for your discretionary income

Discretionary income is the definition for the amount you have left over after bills and essentials.  Budgeting is a good first step for giving it a boost, but there are other things you can do too.

Take a look at your monthly outgoings and consider whether you can get them cheaper elsewhere – or whether you need them at all. Did you know you could save more than £200 a year by switching your energy supplier? Or hundreds by switching your home and broadband provider?

If you have subscriptions you never use, you may also benefit from cancelling them. Now the weather is heating up, why not cancel your gym membership and exercise outside instead?

It is also always worth thinking about your benefits and entitlements. The benefit system can appear complex, but brushing up on topics such as Universal Credit could pay off. 

Disposable income ideas

Once you’ve got a bit more money to play with, you may be thinking of what you should do with it.

Clearing any debts is always a good idea, especially if it’s a high interest debt, such as a credit card. Keeping a savings buffer aside for emergencies is also useful.

Alternatively, writing down a goal is a good way to channel extra dosh. Do you want a family holiday this year, for example, or to get some home improvements?

What do you think?

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  • R Newton / 27 March 2016

    I know people on low income who purchase alcohol and cigarettes, have a netflix subscription and a virgin media cable service with a big TV and sports package, plus one or more iPads or iPhone, yet they claim they have no money at the end of the month. All those things mentioned are not necessary to live. They may be nice things to have but not having them for a short time, and not ordering take away or pizza will quickly get the debts down and once that is done things are much easier. There are no financial penalties or big interest to pay and it can then be possible to bring back some things that were previously enjoyed. Guidance here about shopping around for gas and electricity as well as broadband where there are offers that cost nothing for 6 or even 12 months. Cancel the landline because it is more expensive and less versatile than mobile. Next before you know it you are in the black. I find plenty of money to save for 90% of the people I visit to help them save. Generally they are totally amazed and didn't know they were paying too much for basic services.

  • peter / 25 March 2016

    me and my partner budget every month/week/bi-weekly but we are not left with £5 at end of the day so this is not true i would love to know where you get that ppl are on £187 a week in wales as they are not they are lucky if they are on £150 a week before tax so please dont put lies out as it is just wrong

  • peter / 13 March 2016

    this is full of dung me and my wife do budget but thats fine for the bills food car tax car insurance rent councle tax the normal stuff but my car brakes down i have no savings to fix that or if virgin mess my bill up i have no way of covering that so this article is wrong for 99% of the uk

  • Herbert / 28 November 2015

    Its about time that good financial planning an careful budgeting as well as housekeeping was taught at schools. The items in the article whilst interesting, are common sense to most adults who are retired or near. We grew up in the ages when goods were not available or were saved for, no credit cards, % deposits required for HP if approved , the items bought were cherished and cared for until the end of their life, no throw away society then. It bred respect for planning purchases and saving was an item encouraged from school onwards.

  • sasha knox / 21 September 2015

    There is no help if you need money .the jobcentre say its nor there problem if you or your family don't have cant get any crises loans or budgeting loans only those on.jobseekers so most of us cant get cant even make it through.the month.but why should da I'd.cameron.worry paid for him and his family.its 2015 and there is more people worse off now than ever.and as far as the jobs companies are only.hiring the young sofisticated people who make their company image look great the rest of us are thrown away or waste our time going from one to another job interview that never materializes.

  • sasha knox / 21 September 2015

    when the depression hit all of us a few years ago most had to change their morgage to interest only now we all suffer 940000 of us.13 years in debt management and the bills get sold over and over to companies I owe more now than 13 years ago.the government meeds to say okay any debt after 5 years gets completely written off.the banks can do it! So why cant the people who.are suffering due to the banks and economy do it as well.i cant get jobseekers or esa because my husband works !but I had to pay national insurance but I'm not treated on my own which is not fair so I cant get any.benefits my husband should.have nothing with my work or me claiming benefits his should be his.and mine mine the whole system is wrong.

  • Thelma Corcoran / 1 June 2015

    It would be good to see some advice specifically for those on disability benefits, especially as Mr Cameron apparently has a raft of cuts "up his sleeve". There are three of us in my family, two of whom are unable to work because of health problems, I, as the Carer for them both, have many sleepless nights trying to work out how to make our frugal income "go round".

  • Tom / 28 May 2015

    This is a rubbish article, where is East Anglia in your table comparison.

  • mark / 25 May 2015

    I never used to keep budget records until last year . Once I stared to monitor my spends I was amazed at how much i was frivolously throwing away simple things like changing energy provider , not food shopping at one place not using a card to shop use cash it makes you think more

  • Paul / 22 May 2015

    If companies paid a living wage rather than the minimum they can get away with AND the government stopped paying working tax credit to top up peoples wages and made these huge international companies earning hundreds of millions or even billions in profit pay what they should then we might be all be better off.
    In the 2010 Conservative election manifesto there was mention of a sliding linked salary scale of somehtin like the highest paid directo couldn't earn more than 15 times the lowest paid company worker - quietly dropped within 6 months of office as unworkable - funny how it does work in some of the Scandinavian countries - yet more inequality perpetuated. The rich get richer and the poor ..............................