By in Personal

Are we just really bad with money?

So following on from my rant about not being able to buy a house because we don't have savings I have been doing a whole lot of thinking/research on how to improve the finances.

There is a great website here in the UK called Entitled to which shows things like benefits you may be able to claim. This part of the site is not appropriate for us due to me being in a full time job and him already being on his disability benefits, there is nothing else for us to claim. But the site also has some other useful financial features, one of which is a budget tool.

It is quite straightforward, the main categories are all there for you and you just fill in the amounts. Things like rent/mortgage, council tax, utility bills are all there for you to fill in and you can add your own categories too under each of the main headings of 'finance', 'work expenses' 'household' there are probably more but I forget. At the end of it you put in your income and it gives you a total figure for what you should have left over, or how much in the red you are.

I have used the tool before and it said I had around £200 left a month which didn't seem quite right since I never have anything left over but I figured it was probably a rounding error I had made on each of the individual accounts that had mounted up to that figure or something similar. Todays total showed we should have just over £800 left over each month!!!

Now there is no way we have anything close to that left over, maybe some months we have £100 or so but certainly not £800 and not every month. So either I have missed some massive things off this calculator, or we are terrible with money! I already looked through my bank statements online and I don't see anything obvious that I have missed (all the bills come out of my bank account) so it looks like I now need to print them off and sit with a highlighter and mark off every one as I put it into the online calculator.

I highly doubt its even close to accurate, but imagine if it somehow is, imagine me sitting here moaning about being skint while all the time I should have hundreds of pounds left over that are clearly getting squandered somewhere - oh I am going to be so mad at us if that turns out to be the case!

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MegL wrote on March 4, 2017, 1:14 PM

I have found in the past that food and household goods do not get fully represented on these budgets, very often because we do not realise just how much we are spending. I found Pam Young's The GOOD book, very useful. (Get Out Of Debt). It covers WHY we spend and is also very funny.

melody23 wrote on March 4, 2017, 2:37 PM

The amount we spend on the food shop is absolutely ridiculous, this is something we have been working on recently. I redid some of the figures, included the car insurance which I had clearly forgotten and ended up a little over £200 in the black which still seems like an awful lot compared to what we actually have so I am going to keep a spreadsheet this month and see where this extra money actually goes.

MegL wrote on March 5, 2017, 2:34 AM

I got a really good tip from Martin Lewis some years ago about drinking tea or coffee at work. He pointed out that spending £2 on your tea break might not seem a lot but over 2 breaks a day, 5 days a week, that added to £20 or $25. Over a month, that's £80 or $100 and over a 48 week working year, that is nearly £1000 or $1200

melody23 wrote on March 5, 2017, 2:15 PM

It's amazing how much you can save really. I went on a money saving kick on new years day 2015 I think it was. I kept a list of everything I saved us money on and within the first few months I had saved us around £100 a month by doing things like cancelling credit card insurance and transferring balances onto lower interest cards, then I got a loan to pay everything off which saved another £50 a month. I started taking my own lunch to work every day instead of just for night shift like I used to do which saved around £20 - £30 for each dayshift week. Things were going so great until he had to give up work really. The other rather simple thing that saved us a fortune was turning off plug sockets when something wasn't switched on, it seemed like it wouldn't make a difference since the thing wasn't on anyway but my mother swore it would so I tried it - we started out in debit with the electricity by almost £200 and now we are in credit by over £100 and our direct debit payment has been reduced by a tenner a month too. I might do the list thing again actually, I am going to keep a list of everything we are spending this month and next month I can sit and look through it to see where we are going wrong because according to the budget calculator we should have around £200 left every month and we definitely don't.

Colibry21 wrote on March 5, 2017, 4:12 PM

It can sometimes be tricky with these sorts of budgets. One that I like is Gail Vaz Oxlade. She's written books about money and budgets, as well as shows helping people manage their money. I like her. I haven't had the chance to read her books yet, but I've seen her shows and she certainly knows what she's talking about. She has a website with a lot of useful tips and tools. Although a lot of it applies more to those of us who live in Canada. But still ...