Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. Free legal advice is available from a Citizen's Advice Bureau, and the Law Society can supply a list of local solicitors.
If you are paid monthly how do you make sure you don't spend it all at once?(57 Posts)
Dh and I have a lot of credit card debt which we very foolishly ignored until a couple of years ago when we started to tackle it. We were on the point of IVA/DRO but we pulled our socks up and began to organise our finances. Over the last two years we have paid off approx £4000 from a £21000 debt and I am quite proud that we have made a good start.
But where we are still struggling (and our finances are still quite tight) is making sure we don't overspend at the start of the month. Dh gets paid monthly and I am SAHM, we receive a little tax credits and CB. The first weekend after payday we do a big meat shop which always lasts us through the month and I meal plan week to week although the plan is always subject to change if circumstances do. For example DD1 (13) has recently become a vegetarian so we are getting used to accommodating that into our meal plans.
We have a joint account where most direct debit's go from and I have a personal account which also has some direct debit's going out. I also have a savings account which I put money in at the start of the month to cover the payments which go out later in the month from either account. So basically I make sure all the repayments and direct debits are covered by doing this. What I am struggling to manage is our weekly spending money for food, clothing, school bus fare and treat money.
I have a budget all complete on the moneysavingexpert site and everything adds up (just) but I can't work out a system to manage the weekly spends and how to ensure I don't overspend one week. Without fail the last week of the month the bank account is empty so I am going wrong somewhere.
What do others do to manage?
Why not onlly use "cash" for the weekly spends?
Sop say you have £10 each a week, you go to the cashpoint and get a £10 note each, put it in your purse, and put the debit card in the kitchen drawer.
That way you visually see the money being spent, and may think twice.
Also, look at your current spending.
Separate it into categories:
Essential - can't be reduced: eg rent/mortagae, council tax
Essential - could reduced: electricity, food, gas
Nice to have - Sky, treats, magazines, books etc
I can almost guarantee you can make savings somewhere.
Food will be the easiest to cut down on.
Change energy suppliers - cut down bills easily
Cancel any subscriptions - go down to freeview etc even if ou have to give a notice period, you'll save money in the end.
You say "weekly clothing" - really??? Who buys clothing weekly? WHat are you buying so much of each week?
With the food, if you buy 2/3 of the meat, you'll save loads of money, and won't really notice.
We don't notice really, we hardly have meat with our meals any more. Maybe 2 times a week?
If DD1 has recently become a vegetarian, might you still be buying the same amount of meat as you always have in the past? It's easy done and meat is pretty expensive, even from local butchers.
I've always been paid monthly. I work out what's left after my direct debits, put some away for savings, put money aside for extras such as hair cuts, gifts etc then divide what's left by four.
For groceries I spend approx £25 a week (I live on my own) some weeks I may spend a lot more if I stock up on meat or have people round for a meal but then the following week I'll spend a lot less - my total grocery budget is £100 per month and I don't go over that.
What I have found helpful in the past is to get a stack of envelopes and label each one e.g. groceries, petrol, clothes, spending money/treats and take the cash out of the bank and put the total amount you are going to spend each month on those items in the envelopes. It's much easier to keep track of how much you are spending and what on, when you can see the cash in front of you. Keep the receipts in the envelopes too and you can look through at the end of the month.
Set up a separate budget account and have all money for bills go into that at the beginning of the month. You can then see your disposable income left in your current account.
One of the best tips I was given was to try and save. I could only afford £20 a month at the time but it soon adds up. I usually manage more now and it's what has allowed me to take a full year of maternity leave.
As PP I work out what is coming in and then list all outgoings. I also put a bit in a savings account for presents/unexpected meals out etc. Whatever is left I divide by however many weeks are in that month and take that amount of cash from the ATM every week. Paying by cash is a good way of not being tempted to be frivolous! Five week months are a struggle but I try to get a couple of extra things for the freezer each week and use those in the last week iyswim.
How old are your children?
Is there any way you could get some part time work to help reduce your debt and take some pressure off?
Some people take out cash and put it in separate envelopes so they can see easily how much is left. I'm wondering if you have expenses that you haven't budgeted for, or if you need a contingency fund (I.e. shave £5 off some of your other pots and keep it for emergencies). It might help to write down everything you spend for a month and see where it goes.
I'd agree with really working out where the money goes each week - particularly on the 'smaller stuff'. Until you get a handle on that, you're not really in a position to see whether you can control it.
Thanks for all your replies. I think I am going to try putting cash in envelopes. I budget £100 a week for food (there are six of us and two dogs) and we definitely have a back log of meat still to use this month. It does slightly scare me just using cash and leaving my card at home, so many "what ifs?" in my brain.
I am also going to join the local credit union and save £10 a month. It is not much but at the moment we have zero savings so if anything cropped up we have to use a credit card which is not ideal.
I like the idea of keeping the receipts in the envelopes.
I did work until recently but we have no family support and it put so much pressure on us as a family and as a couple so when dh got a recent payrise I resigned. We have very nearly the same income now and no worries about childcare.
We get paid monthly. I have a spreadsheet with all our direct debits etc and standing orders for savings and to go into our own accounts. I work out what is left. Leave a bit in there to cover the credit card spending -main shop, petrol etc. The rest is taken out of the bank and put into a tin. I eat fresh food more so it works this way, I can see the money going down and if getting a bit short we wil, try to use up bits of food in the cupboards rather than buy more if needed. I also pay the credit card off in full each month and never spend more on it than I have in the bank.
That works for the most part, sometimes we may need to use some savings to clear the credit card if we have unexpected bills etc.
A backlog of meat and two dogs?
You're going to be Favourite Person, I think.
why a credit union?
are there any better-paying savings systems available to you? I realise that the best rates are from bank accounts and you may have an issue opening more, but is it worth looking into?
check the rate on that savings account, every little helps.
usual advice; hammer down utilities with comparison (and using less), no new adult clothing unless essential, no magazines, books (use library), takeaways.
and make sure the dogs get only the cheapest of the cheap pet food. They'll cope.
It's surprisingly difficult to change buying patterns, meal planning or No. You might just be buying roughly what you've always bought but adding extra ingredients for the meals that are different.
Maybe have a good look at that area in particular, anyway.
Maybe it's time, also, to give DD1 some encouragement in making the odd veggie meal for the whole family? You could give her an allowance to buy food for them and reduce the 'other spend' accordingly? (Officially, at least.) Who knows but that everyone might learn something from it.
If I had debts I would return to work. I know it can be hard (I have no support and one if my DC is severely disabled and still working so not talking from hear say). Surely this would generate extra income and help to get rid of the debt. no way I would resign in these circumstances.
Ynab 3 month free trial
Try this out one month tracking your spends & then next two trying to control your spends better.
I find this helps me a lot.
We use our joint account for all essential outgoings. On payday the rounded up amount of that goes into that account.
Then we can see what we're left with. A proportion (usually 10%ish) goes into a savings account.
After that we pay off any cards etc if we have then that month.
We then have what is left to divide between the four/five weeks til the next payday.
We also have a list of all essential food and toiletries and buy those in the quantity we need for the whole month at the beginning of it. This includes frozen meat and veg etc so that I know I can always make something for dinner.
It doesn't necessarily leave a huge amount for weekly spending but it does mean that we know everything is paid for and there will be food on the table.
How much meat do you buy? I am a veggie but have been told that meat eaters should only eat meat 2 to 3 times a week anyway.
We also have a book where we list any DIY we need to do or any household or clothing that we need to buy. When there is money for something from the book then we get it. If there isn't at least we know it is in there and will be done / bought at some point.
Add up all of your direct debits
Then see what you have left over, then divide it by four and withdraw it weekly
I do like the pp idea of the envelopes though so I might try that
I'm new to monthly payments. Once all bills are taken off, I take the remaining and divide by equal daily amounts. At the end of the day, money not spent can be either saved or placed onto debt.
Are you spending money that isn't budgeted for? You say that it only just adds up, so if anyone buys anything that isn't in the budget, that's where you might be going wrong?
Also, do you save up for irregular and unexpected expenses like Christmas, insurance, white goods replacement? If not, how do you pay for these?
£100 pw for 6 plus 2 dogs isn't a lot, do you think you manage to stick within this amount?
Do you use quidco and discount vouchers where possible? That's an easy way to up your income a little. Subscribe to the Moneysavingexpert weekly email, there are often tips to get a bit of free money or a discount on something you would buy anyway.
I was interested to see that you allow yourself treat money. I don't think that that's necessarily inadvisable - it's really a lifestyle choice - but it might be an area to keep an eye on, to ensure that 'treat spending' isn't starting to assume a larger share of the budget than you had originally allowed for.
Thanks for everyone's ideas and advice. There are a lot to work through.
We change energy suppliers nearly every year to keep costs down as well as reviewing insurance so I think we try to be careful with our bills. It is the day to day stuff which I can't keep track of. For a while I kept a spending diary which did highlight we were spending much more in the supermarket than I thought. To combat that we only shop once a week although I think we are slipping again. We do shop in our local Asian supermarket for fruit and veg which is a lot cheaper than the big chains and we then go to Netto/Lidl for the rest. I buy the dog food from the local farm shop and buy working dog food as it is cheapest ( no VAT). I definitely buy too much meat as we have quite a bit left this month. My new meal plan includes some veggie friendly meals we can all eat so I will buy less meat overall. DD does so some cooking and is very good in the kitchen despite being only twelve. I am encouraging her to learn more about nutrition now though.
I think (as Barbara ) says that money is going on unbudgeted things and we need to get a grip on this. So on my budget plan we have an amount we are supposed to be saving for Christmas but this never happens - is goes somewhere else. This is why I am thinking that portioning out the money at the start of the month will help me see where and also make sure I have some left at the month end.
Do any couples manage money together or is it one person? I often feel like DH doesn't understand how our finances work. He is good at frittering money in small amounts but doesn't see how it all adds up. Do I need to start saying "No" to his spending or should I expect him to see it himself? He does seem so rubbish at keeping any money in his pocket and always has been I suppose.
How does everybody in the family obtain their cash? Does DH, for example, just get more from the ATM if he needs it?
PS - and what does he actually say about his spend? Do you discuss finances much?
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.