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Embarrassed to budget? See why you shouldn't be

Is there a taboo around budgeting?  We are often happy to be open about other parts of our life, but  money can still be a tricky topic.

Here, Jennie Hammond, Savoo’s Smartest Shopper 2014 and author of the blog  Embarrassingbudgets.co.uk, tells you why you don’t need to be embarrassed to budget, and her top tips to make budgeting easier.

Bodies and budgets

You’ll have seen Dr Christian talking wind and warts on Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies, but why do we find it easier to talk about spots and sores than spending and saving? Do we really prefer to talk bunions than budgets?

I guess the concept of money saving means something different to each and every one of us. For some, it will bring about positive thoughts and memories, perhaps a challenge, an opportunity or a sense of achievement; for others, it may act as a stark reminder of difficult times or a real fear of the unknown.

When, in 2013, I had to cut my already-tight budget right back to basics in order to repay my four-figure overdraft, the thought of having to account for every single penny was terrifying.

I was embarrassed to have to turn down invitations from friends because I had no money left for nights out; I was embarrassed that I couldn’t give as much as others in the office whip-rounds; and I was even embarrassed that my Tesco grocery deliveries had so many economy-brand items!

Now, though, I think of money saving, budgeting, and making the most of my limited resources as something to be proud of. I’ve come a long way since I began tightening my belt, so to speak.

In 2014 I was crowned the UK’s Smartest Shopper by discount voucher site Savoo and set up my blog. As a lone parent, I feel a real sense of achievement that I managed to clear a large overdraft whilst still looking after my young son and having lots of fun along the way.

These days, I wouldn’t be without my budget. I see it as a tool, not to restrain me – far from it – but to keep me on the straight and narrow. It helped me get out of debt and it brings relief and the hope of a brighter future.

 

Top tips for better budgeting

  • Do the math. You need to know exactly how much money you have coming in and going out. You’ll need to dig out pay slips, bills and bank statements for this.
  • Check your entitlements. Are you receiving everything you’re entitled to? Find out about in work benefits, such as Working Tax Credit, for those on a low income. (You don’t have to have children to claim Working Tax Credit!)
  • Take on the taxman. Check that you’re paying the right amount of tax. There are ways to pay less income tax, legally – for example, if you wear a uniform to work, if you have to work from home, or if you have a spouse or civil partner who doesn’t use up their full annual tax free allowance.
  • Think about it. Never buy on impulse. If in doubt, leave it out! Save yourself the money, the hassle and the will-I-won’t-I-keep-it debate when you get home.
  • Plan ahead. You can usually buy out-of-season items much cheaper, so look out for camping essentials in autumn and Christmas essentials in spring!
  • Read reviews. Buying cheap is no good if the items aren’t fit for purpose, so check product reviews before you buy.
  • Get online. There are great savings to be made on the internet. If you’re buying online and there’s a box for a discount code, search for one and try it out!
  • Keep smiling! Find ways to have fun for less. One of my favourites is to use my supermarket vouchers for treats and rewards. The fun doesn’t have to stop when the money runs out!

This guest post is from Embarrassing Budgets and doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of the Money Advice Service. You can find out more about Embarrassing Budgets and what they do on their website.

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