Now that 2013 is well underway, we’d like to find out what tips and tricks you’ve used to detox your finances since New Year. Are you meticulous about setting a family budget – and sticking to it? Or are you unsure where to start?
Why not write and let us know what has worked for your family? And in the meantime, here are a few simple ideas to get you started.
It’s important to understand what you have going out each month, so start making a note of your spending habits. Even if you’re scared of spreadsheets, there are lots of free mobile phone and tablet apps which let you log purchases like Budgets – Expense Tracker.
You may be forgetting to include small purchases like the daily newspaper or your morning coffee, which do add up over time. Even the technophobic can use a notebook to keep track of these. It will help you see a full picture of your spending.
Have a clearout
As well as your expenditure, it’s important to understand your income. As well as your salary, you should include things like bonuses, interest from savings and investments, any rent or board you have coming in and any benefits you receive.
Hopefully, your final income figure for each month will be higher than your spending. But if not, don’t panic. Take control. Reduce your spending by making lists before grocery shopping, and sticking to them, minimising treats and making your own lunch.
But you could also try to boost your income. Have a clearout and see what you could auction on eBay, sell at a car boot sale or recycle on sites like Gumtree. Or you may have a driveway or spare room to rent. See our previous article on easy ways to make money for ideas to boost your income.
If you are worried
If you do have debt and are unsure what to do, help is available. The Government, HMRC and the FSA all have information on their websites on managing money. And for free, impartial advice, try contacting any of the following organisations:
- the National Debtline – 0808 808 4000
- the Consumer Credit Conunselling Service – 0800 138 111
- your local Citizens Advice Bureau. Details can be found in your local phone book.
If you have any advice of your own, write to us at email@example.com and we’ll print the best notes in a future issue. Remember – we’ll pay £100 to the writer of our ‘star letter’.
My Virgin Money magazine reserves the right to edit contributors’ letters for, and as a condition of, publication.