How do I make a budget?
Making a budget doesn’t have to be complicated or scary. We’ll help you get started.
The first step is working out how much money you have coming in and going out each month. It’s fine to estimate this, although digging out receipts, bank statements, bills and payslips will help!
Write down your monthly income
This might include wages, benefits, child maintenance, sick pay, a pension, or anything else that gives you regular income. Splitting lump sums into monthly amounts will make it easier to see how much you can afford to spend each month.
Then add up your monthly outgoings
- Essential costs – i.e., fixed or priority payments. These are often paid by standing order or direct debit, and missing them can mean expensive or stressful penalties (e.g., rent or mortgage, utility bills, or repayments towards a loan or credit card).
- Flexible costs that vary from month to month, e.g., groceries, clothing, childcare, eating out, gym memberships and magazine subscriptions.
Ideally, you’ll bring in enough money each month to cover your costs, with a little left over to save for a rainy day or spend on treats. If you’re not that quite there yet, these questions will help you work at it:
- Could you increase your income? For instance, from benefits, extra wages, or other financial support. The turn2us website has a benefits checker and grants tool that can help you find some of these funds.
- Where can you spend less? Your budget can help you identify unnecessary spending, so make sure to review where and why you spend your money. It can also get you in the habit of comparing prices: go through all your costs and challenge yourself to find a better deal or pay less for each one!