Budgeting week: What to think about once you've got a budget

Budgeting week: Three things to think about once you've got a budget

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.

See also: This is why you really need a budget

See also: The expenses you're forgetting to add to your 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.

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.

Vintage money-saving tips
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Vintage money-saving tips
Back then there was no choice, because the mass-produced microwaveable meal was just a glint in a marketing guru's eye, but now, cooking from scratch can save substantial sums.
The older generation learned that there were meat-free days of the week to save money, and that if you had meat you''d stretch mince with breadcrumbs, or buy cheaper joints and use every scrap.
Perfect fruit and vegetables and top-of-the-range brands are a new phenomenon. Buy generic non-branded food and fruit and vegetables in whatever size and shape is most affordable

Nowadays we rush around the supermarket grabbing things we like the look of - with little idea of what we're going to do with it. Making a list and thinking about what you buy can save you thousands of pounds over the course of a year.

There's no such thing as 'left-overs' there's just the ingredients for tomorrow's dinner. The remains of the meat can be stir-fried the next day, the vegetables blended into  soup, and the potatoes saved for bubble and squeak.

Try an experiment and eliminate everything from your life with the word disposable in the title. Not only will you save money, but your bin will take far longer to fill too.

Before you bin anything, think twice about whether you can give it a second life. Think carefully, does your granny have her tried and tested tips that she has a habit of mentioning, for instance, washing out freezer bags? If you mock, you're missing a trick and wasting money and resources.
Cutting out draughts and insulating your home properly can cut 10% off your heating bill.
Back in the 1940s when no-one had central heating, people got used to wearing another layer at home. Try lowering your thermostat gradually, and only stop when those around you start to notice - you'll be surprised how much you can save.
If you save your washing and dish washing until you have a full load every time you'll save energy and save money.
Over the generations we have been sucked into believing the hype. In the days when adverts were few-and-far between, we managed without many of the things we consider essential nowadays. Re-consider what you buy, and why. Without advertising, would you buy any of it?
It's always cheaper to save in advance and plan a purchase than to rush in and borrow - which could end up costing you hundreds of pounds more in interest.
Older generations typically withdraw what they can afford to spend in cash and then leave their debit card at home or deep in their wallets. This has the advantage that they don't tend to reach for a debit or credit card and spend more than they can afford.
Because the older generations couldn't borrow their way out of trouble, they tended to plan more. Give your family a financial safety and a nest egg for the future.
Back when there were only a finite number of items of clothing to go around in a neighbourhood, people borrowed from each other for special occasions. Nowadays swapping and sharing can save substantial sums
Back in the 1940s when no-one had central heating, people got used to wearing another layer at home. Try lowering your thermostat gradually, and only stop when those around you start to notice - you'll be surprised how much you can save.
There was a time not so long ago when no-one could actually remember anyone who had actually bought a bike. They were passed through the siblings, then across family and friends networks, so that decades later, children were still learning to ride a bike for free. Of course it helps if you buy something gender-neutral, then you can hand it down, and reap the benefits as others hand expensive toys on to you.
In previous generations, neighbours would think nothing of asking each other to babysit, walk their dog, or to borrow a ladder. Nowadays we pay handsomely for babysitters and dog walkers, and each have an expensive ladder gathering dust in the shed.
The army of people who come to our homes to do odd jobs is a new phenomenon for all but the very wealthy. You may well have the skills required to complete these jobs, so get stuck in.

Ditch going out for dinner or browsing round the shops for taking a walk, visiting the beach with a picnic, or holding a family DVD night.

Nowadays we're constantly striving for a bigger TV, a flashier car and a better kitchen. Generations ago people never considered that they would ever be able to afford bigger, flashier and better, so they got on with the business of enjoying what they had.

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