A few suggestions... 1)Try writing down everything that you spend in a week (or month) and I mean EVERYTHING - maybe have a notebook with you or try this www.creditaction.org.uk/spendometer.html so you can see where the pennies go - and they do add up - it's quite scarey! 2) Try living using just cash for a month - on average people spend a third more when using debit or credit cards. 3)Draw up a budget of where your money goes. It takes a while to do - this might help www.creditaction.org.uk/assets/PDF/challenges/budget-challenge.pdf 4) some people like to have 2 bank accounts - one for all their regular payments like gas/water council tax etc, and one for taking cash out. That way once you've worked out how much the reglar payments are, you know how much cash you have to spend and can't spend any more than that - plus you know there will always be enough for the regular stuff. HTH
Have you ever sat down with three months bank statements and categorized where its going?
Its a really good starting point.
Start with big headings for example... mortgage, loans/ repayments, childcare, supermarket, heating/ power, council tax, house insurance, car insurance, petrol, cash.
Once you've put the totals into columns have a good look through at any that seem high. You can get averages for power spending for your house size for example.
When I did this many years ago I was horrified (I was married two good incomes no kids) we spent over £600/ month (between us) at the supermarket - I would have guessed about £250! We threw away quite a bit which I was aware of but also got invited out and ate out a lot and also shopped hungry at lunch times because we weren't organised at sorting lunch before we went.
Then you can go onto look at breaking down what you buy at the supermarket - whether you can spread debt, whether you'd be better off paying your insurance upfront rather than spreading it.
Knowing what roughly what each pots budget is each month then helps you to not realise you've emptied the account again. I'm a fan of hard cash spending on a monthly basis to get used to a new budget - you see the money going down but also know what you have to treat yourself.
Just some thoughts, I'm no expert, but have lived to a variety of budgets in my life - currently a very tight one I have to watch carefully but live within.
Think you are not alone on this thread because everyone is feeling the pinch, and you can take a tiny bit of comfort from that.I have read a few of these threads and am now slightly panicky that we use all our money every month and save none. We would need to cut costs somewhere in order to save some.
We're currently writing down everything we spend and it's scary!
I had thought groceries and household stuff would take up the biggest proportion, but it's actually that the money goes in dribs and drabs - mainly for our two teenage dds...music lessons, school trips, presents - they all add up.
And we spend more than I thought on wine although some of that has been Christmas supplies.
Since october I have been working out a rough budget but have been writing down everything I spend and it is a real eye opener. I am now addicted to writing it all down and it helps so much to see where it is all going. DH and I have money in a pot and money pooled and I always used to feel so awful that my money ran out so early but by doing this I can see clearly in black and white just how much I spend on presents, food shopping and DS. I don't feel so guilty now as I can 'prove' where it has gone. DH finds this quite a strange process and never wants to see what I have spent or where and is happy to help me out at the end of my money but it has taken a load of my mind knowing that I am not just frittering it away. I don't feel like a crazy spendthrift when I see that I have spent it on real neccesities.