Work on percentages, not amounts. Decide what % of your wages will go on food, bills, clothes, outings etc and stick to it. Some things are pretty inflexible - mortgage or rent and utility bills. The rest is up to you. If you know you have three weddings, buy cheap food that month. If you know how much you ar espending for those weddings, then the trick is to get a great outfit and wedding present within that budget, instead of blowing the budget and feeling so tense about the cost that you can't enjoy the wedding.
I think the best way of budgeting is finding what works for you. I have two spreadsheets, a bills one and one which is personally for me.
The bills one has an income tab (inc mine, DH's and CB), an expenditure tab (inc every last thing, food, mortgage, petrol, car tax etc) and then various other tabs which track the cost of our utility bills over previous months (to help forecasting) and a car account tab (which adds up the money we allocate to car insurance for the following year, petrol etc). I bank with lloyds who allow you to set up numerous online bank accounts. So I have one for all of our car related money, a savings one (which we eventually move bits into our ISA), a Christmas one, a food shopping one, one for shopping online, our joint account and my personal bank account. Anything that goes into the food account, christmas etc stays in there until it needs to be used for what it has been allocated for. We are lucky that so far we have not had to borrow from this because we have savings should we need to fall back on them.
DH gets paid on the 6th, me on the last working day of the month and the bills come out on the 1st. We both pay ALL of our salaries into our joint account and when I get paid I work out what is disposable to our bills, then move any money I can into our savings and then split what is left between DH and I, I get slightly more because I organise DD's clothes etc.
My personal spreadsheet then shows what my disposable is for that month. Underneath I list every major expenditure I can think of, e.g. parents birthday party, weddings and allocate an amount of money to it. For example:
Bank balance: £350 Wedding £40 Present for bob £10 Hair cut £30 DD shoes £10 £90 Disposable £260
Once I have done the above I then know my disposable is £260 and per week that's approx £65, so I try to spend as little of that as possible and then I only spend any significant amounts of money, e.g. stairgate, new table etc, before the next pay day so that I know that I won't be short for long. This all works most of the time and I am happy with the way it works, however the downside is having to log into my spreadsheet every time I spend anything, it's tedious, but actually it stops me spending money and I know exactly how much I have, I even budget down to lunch with a friend to work out whether it has to wait until the following month.
Maybe if you add up how much extra an impulse purchase is if repeated weekly over a year it would stop you?
I stopped having sandwiches from the shops and paying for parking in the multistory when I realised it was costing £50 a month. £600 a year!
I could (and do) have holidays for that.
Nothing makes you feel better than having plenty of cash in the bank. I hated it when I used to live from one pay day to the next, buying food in nectar vouchers as I'd run out of cash. Madness when I look back at it.
I have an excel spreadsheet which i monitor everything on. If you send me your email address i am happy to send it to you with some tips. It basically lists my income and all my bills and shows what i have left over. I imput my receipts into it every day and it shows me how much my running balance is and also where I am spending money. It takes me about 5 minutes a day and for the peace of mind i get from it, is totally worth it.
Like others have mentioned though, i also withdraw money (well transfer it to a savings account) on payday for things that are coming up that month. In October for example, it is SILs birthday and I am away for a weekend so the money for that will be put away at the end of September.
Ooh thanks wilfsell ,the food budget is about the only thing I'm good at !I think Im going wrong buying really silly things and chucking extras in the food shop magazines and DVDs are my downfall, I work in a supermarket so always see things on my lunch and buy to cheer me up ! So do you sit down and work out things like weddings then take money out and set aside?
moneysavingexpert has a really good online budget calculator - it allows you to put in ALL your expenses not just weekly/monthly ones, so you can work out what you really spend, and then also put in where you need to cut down. I've used it a number of times.
His (Martin Lewis') basic advice is to plan your expenditure and 'piggy bank' bits of money (ie draw out cash at start of month, or in the longer term, set up different accounts to put direct debits into when you get paid).
So you essentially 'ringfence' your cash, your food money, your 'wedding money' right at the start. I've moved to a 'cash economy' from time to time when I'm struggling but most of the time I just stick my head in the sand and hope for the best so am not the best person to advise! Good luck!
no advice really I'm afraid but watching with interest as I majorly need help with this, and pay day for me tomorrow too! Doesn't help that 'one off' expenses keep cropping up such as 3 weddings to go to last month which are pricey just to attend! And I'm starting pay day with a 'one off' trip to see the inlaws - 650 mile round trip in a petrol guzzling car! That will be fun looking at the bank statement next week!