5 Things: Creating A Budget and Sticking To It (Finally)

Anyone who knows me well will be more than aware – I’m something of a serial spender. I’ve always been something of an emotional shopper, I practically have qualifications in Retail Therapy, and I’m pretty impatient (read, no good at waiting for what I want).
This means that on the whole, I’ve always been pretty crappy with money. I ran up a massive overdraft during my time at uni, and often picked a new £25 lipstick over paying the internet bill – not an attitude I’d recommend. 
It’s taken almost a year since I finished my degree, but I’m in a place now where – no, I’m not good with money, but I’m a damn sight better. I’ve payed off my overdraft, and I manage, somehow, to make my paycheck last til the end of the month. If you’re like me and struggle to stay on top of your finances, here are my top 5 tips.

  1. Address the situation. Burying your head in the sand will achieve literally nothing. Sit down with a print off of your bank balance, and look at where all your money is going. I usually go through and highlight everything I’ve spent with different colours for bills, food, meals out, and then clothes/makeup/other unnecessary bits I buy, so I can easily see a breakdown of where things are going. 
  2. Pay back. Make getting your bank account into the clear a top priority. Pay off overdrafts, outstanding bills, and any money you’ve borrowed from friends and family first – or at least come up with an achievable payment plan to pay it back over a couple of months. 
  3. Identify your non-negotiables. The things outside of necessary monthly expenses (bills, rent, food, etc) that you don’t want to be without. For me this is coffee, because I work for myself, I often work a day or two a week from a coffee shop to stop me going stir crazy in the house. 
  4. Make a plan. Work out how much you need to allocate for essentials and your non-negotiables each month, so you know exactly what you have left to spend each month. I find that moving all the money for my bills & food shopping into a separate account at the start of the month helps me make sure that money goes where it’s meant to! 
  5. Stay accountable. Check your bank balance every few days, write down every transaction in a Budget book (I use this one and it’s great), and tell your friends & family you’re trying to spend less. That way they’re more likely to stop you from eating out unneccessarily, or buying things you don’t need!

What are your tips for sticking to a budget? Are you money-savvy, or a spender like me?