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Budgeting – a good habit to have

Setting up a budget is a great way to see exactly where your money is going.

With a budget you can keep track of your monthly income and spending. Your usual monthly expenses, like mortgage and bills are a good place to start analysing your spending habit and taking control

It’s amazing how much we let slip through our radar when it comes to small buys like our morning coffee.

  • Always be truthful with yourself and make an effort to include everything you spent.
  • Curious about where your money is going? You can track your income and expenses by printing or viewing your bank statements online. Consider recording your spending for a month.
  • Put a note in your phone calendar about your mortgage repayments or rent every month.
  • When you estimate the average amount you spend every year, make sure to account for expenses that happen only once a year, such as management company fees or car insurance and tax. Figure out where you think you may be overspending and ask yourself if it is essential.
  • Could you save expenses, for example, by switching to a cheaper utility provider or a more competitive grocery store?
  • On the phone, online, or at an ATM, you can routinely check your bank balance.

Now it’s time to get down to business and get things down on paper.

  • A budget can be based weekly or monthly, depending on how often you get paid.
  • Take a look at your outgoings. Start with the necessities such as food, bills, and mortgage payments. Next, the slightly less crucial things, such as clothing, social life, and holidays. Include any money you owe, including any bills or a car loan.
  • Go through each item and the amount you need to pay for it. For instance, if your ESB bill is typically around €80 every two months, or roughly 8 weeks, budget €10 for energy each week.
  • And finally, you take away the amount you will need every week from your weekly income figure. Your disposable income is the money that is left over.

On paper, intentions are great, but in practice, sticking to your plans can be a little more tricky. So keep a close eye on your own habits while daily comparing your actual spending to your anticipated spending.

  • Day-to-day management means knowing when you have money, when you need to pay things off and when you need to be more careful. Being good with your money doesn't mean thinking about it every minute of the day; it just requires good habits at certain times of the month or week.
  • Of course you can’t control every situation, so you might need to review your plans and adjust them as life carries on in its own way. This might mean making reductions or sacrifices here and there.
  • Being realistic is crucial; avoid being too hard on yourself if you don't have to. Recognize your weaknesses and allow for a little unplanned spending once in a while.
  • Why not create a standing order that is directly deposited into your savings account? Open a savings account if you don't already have one, add any extra cash you have at the end of the month, and try to set up a regular standing order.
  • Try to avoid making impulsive purchases. Making a strict a budget for your spending. Set up direct debit payments so you may pay your bills when you have the money available and on schedule. Try to move standing orders and direct debits until just after payday to avoid surprises at the end of the month.
  • Set up direct debit payments so you may pay your bills when you have the money available and on schedule. Try to move standing orders and direct debits until just after payday to avoid surprises at the end of the month.
  • Consider spreading out your larger payments over the course of the year by direct debit rather than paying everything at once.
  • If you anticipate going overdrawn, apply for an overdraft in advance. Try not to get comfortable to having an overdraft; instead, use it as a temporary solution.

There’s a wealth of tools and tips online which will make budgeting so much easier. Here’s some ideas:

  • An Post household budget – the easy pay option. This Household Budget allows people who receive certain social welfare payments to pay a regular amount towards various household bills by direct deduction of their payments. The service is operated on behalf of the Minister for Social Protection by An Post. Go to your local An Post office to pick up a form, go to anpost.ie for further information.
  • Shop around the supermarkets – look at the weekly deals the various supermarkets have on offer. You may get your meat from one and your vegetables from another. Don't forget the discount supermarkets. Use your reward/loyalty cards.
  • cheapeats.ie is a blog about eating well in Ireland while getting value for money.
  • Compare prices online, you may find yourself a bargain. For example, many shops now sell through Ebay which could net you a discount on what you may pay instore.
  • Bring a packed lunch to work, you could save €1,128 a year (based on a conservative €4.70 per day, 5 days a week, 20 days per month over 12 months).
  • Price comparison websites: Callcosts.ie – mobile phone price comparisons, Myvoipprovider.com – home phone price comparisons, health insurance comparison site, pumps.ie – compare petrol prices.
  • Carry out a home energy audit. The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) offers a user-friendly, step-by-step home energy survey online so that you are more energy aware. SEAI can also point you in the direction of energy experts who can carry out a professional home energy audit.

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