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Hey everyone, hope you’re having a wonderful week. It is currently so damn windy here in the UK, I’m sat in my kitchen and just watching the garden get blown to shreds! A bit of a change from the 30°C temps I was enjoying a month ago (sob!). New year, new me though – and that means actually wrapping up warm when I go outside, not depending on a spring coat to keep me warm!I know that a lot of people start the new year with great intentions, and that’s why today, I’m going to cover exactly how to get your budget into shape in 2018.
Personally, my attitude towards budgeting has really shifted this year. I have so much more awareness on what I’m spending my money on. My parents laugh at me when I say this and they then see a parcel of a new pair of jeans arrive on the doorstep, but my attitude to being frugal is not about restricting what you buy and living with next to nothing.
What I preach is bringing intention into your lifestyle, and spending your money only what you want and need – not spending mindlessly, not buying things because that’s what you think you should be buying or because you’ve never even questioned it – just being aware of what you need, and prioritising your lifestyle to be able to afford what you want (and yes, for me last month that was a new pair of jeans with stars on because who could say no to those bad boys…)
With that in mind, I’m going to share a few bits of my best advice to getting your life – and so your budget – into shape in 2018 in order to help you live the life you want this year. The first few points are a bit more general, so scroll down if you want a step-by-step guide to getting things ship-shape now.
1. Know Your Priorities
What do you want to achieve this year? With this question, you can really get as broad or as specific as you like. Do you want to travel more? Increase your income? Get a new wardrobe? Start cooking for yourself more?
The most important thing is that you know what you’d like to achieve. Simply having that awareness with you will enable you to act with intention and move one step closer towards those goals.
Once you have your priorities, write them down. Remember them. If your priorities change, write that down to. It isn’t about writing a list of rules that you have to stick to, it’s about acknowledging what’s important to you.
2. What Makes You Happy?
Last year, I assessed exactly what was making me unhappy in life, and I changed it. For me, that was my job, which I found unsatisfying and unbearably limiting to my desires to travel and live my life how I wanted to (can you tell I’m a bit stubborn?!).
I changed that element in your life for my own happiness, and though a little selfish, I really think there is nothing more important than acting with your happiness in mind. No, not at the cost of another person’s happiness – but many of us need to remember to act first for ourselves more often.
What makes you happy? What, in your life, is stopping you from feeling your happiest? Getting your life into shape this year could be a simple matter of adjusting a few elements that are costing you your full happiness.
3. Stop Needless Spending
Linking to the first point, limiting the amount of money you spent needlessly is the number one change you should make to get your budget into better shape. Again, this isn’t about restricting yourself; it’s about knowing your priorities and placing those above others.
Do you spend £30 a month on a phone contract, only to rely on free WiFi to use your phone the most? Consider a free pay-as-you-go SIM and save yourself hundreds in the year.
Do you eat out because you can’t be bothered to cook when you come home? Get into the habit of meal prepping (and freezing) a few dishes at the weekends and have a host of healthy, cheap, home-cooked meals on hand whenever you’re hungry.
Do you spend ridiculous amounts in your energy and heating bills? First, consider switching providers as this could save you hundreds straight away. Second, look into how a few simple changes to your habits around the home could save you money – and save the environment, too.
4. Track Your Spending
Long-time readers of this site will be rolling their eyes right now because you all know I’ve mentioned tracking your spending countless times in many of my posts. If you haven’t clocked on by now though, it’s because tracking your spending is legit. You need to know how much you’re earning and how much you’re spending to ever know what the state of your spending is.
Personally, I track my income and expenses on a spreadsheet I made myself. However, if you’d prefer an app or software to make things a little easier, two great money trackers that I frequently recommend are Personal Capital and Money Dashboard.
5. It’s ALL About the Food
I’ve been blogging about money for almost a year now, and I can say with absolute confidence that food is the one thing that almost everyone agrees they’re spending too much money on. What can I say, we’re a society of indulgers!
This being said, your food expenses are one area that is so easy to address and help get your budget looking healthier than ever in 2018. A few ways to cut down the spending that you might really relate to include:
- Instead of eating out for almost every meal at the weekend, just eat out once. Buy in some tasty fake-away bits for a treat if you need it, but avoid restaurants to keep your bank balance in check.
- If you buy your lunch out every day, you’re looking at an expense upwards of £1,000 a year (on an average of £5/meal). Pack your own lunch (better yet, take leftovers!), and you’ll instantly slash your spending in a way that can really make an impact on your life.
- Cook in bulk. This is my holy grail piece of advice. I always cook extra portions when I’m cooking from scratch because let’s face it, cooking takes time we don’t always have. Cut down your cooking time by bulk prepping meals and storing the leftovers in the fridge for lunches or the next couple of days. This is far more efficient, and saves you money on buying tonnes of ingredients you’ll forget to use!
I know this post is a little different to the step by step things you need to do to fix your budget, but your intentions and your habits come first when you’re trying to address a spending problem. Check out the below articles for some more in-depth advice!