Beginners guide to budgeting

On my Instagram I have been asked many times to share my top tips on how to start a budget.

Having a budget that works is so crucial to paying of debt or increasing savings. But it is always so difficult knowing where to start.

So if you are unsure then keep reading this post as I share what I have done to start my budget. As always I am not trained in anything to do with finances these steps are what I have done to pay off debt and increase my savings.

Step 1: Write down your goals

The best place to start is writing down your goals. Are you paying of debt, increasing your savings? Whatever your main focus is write that down.

10 Great Financial Goals to Achieve in Your Lifetime | DebtWave

But you have to be realistic, the best way to achieve your goals is to make them manageable.

My goal for 2020 was to save £10,000, this was my main goal, but within this goal I broke it down. For example:

  • I need to save £770 per payday(13 paydays)
  • I need to save £5,000 in the first 6 months of the year

This is how I broke down my goal and it really helped. When I reached £5,000 in savings I felt a huge sense of achievement and this gave me motivation to reach my next milestone £10,000.

Step 2: Work out your monthly bills

Now you have a goal in mind and you have planned how you are going to do this it’s time to work out your monthly bills.

BILLS, BILLS, BILLS! : Thornley Groves

Take a look at your bank account and write down all the bills you have and what days they are due for payment.

Here are mine as an example:

  • Car Tax: £13.12 Due 2nd each month
  • Phone Bill: £23.99 Due 14th each month
  • Canva: £10.99 Due 20th each month
  • Rent: £150 Due 20th each month
  • Netflix: £8.99 Due 27th each month

Having all your bills written down and the due dates will help you have more control over the money leaving your account.

I like knowing when the money is leaving my account, that way if there is an issue with payments I can investigate it easier as I know how much I owe and when it is due.

Step 3: Remove unused subscriptions

Do you have any entertainment subscriptions that you don’t use any more? If so now is the time to get rid of them. Before I started my first budget back in 2018 I removed many subscriptions that I hadn’t used.

Is Entertainment Subscription Fatigue Setting In? - GWI

In my first month of budgeting I removed over £100 worth of bills which was a huge help.

My rule is, if I haven’t used it in a month then it needs to go. In November I stopped paying for Spotify premium as I hadn’t used it for months. I now use Youtube and listen to radio stations for music.

There are many ways you can swap your paid entertainment services to free ones! Take a look at my blog post > How making 5 easy swaps can save you a lot of money this will show you some things you can swap for either cheaper or free services.

Just by removing one £10 subscriptions this is saving £120 a year! So it’s well worth taking a look at your bills!

Step 4: Reduce bills

The next place to start is reducing your bills. The best way to do this is using a comparison site such as Compare the Market .

You can use this to see if you are paying too much on your household bills. All you need to do is simply put your details in and then find the cheapset deal.

It does take some time but that time can save you a lot of money. They also share cashback offers and free movie offers!

I use this website every year to renew my car insurance and it saves me hundreds of pounds!

Step 5: Work out your expenses

So at this point you should have your goals in mind, bills reduced and anything unused removed. Next is working out your expenses/spending.

4 Things To Be Aware Of When Spending Money For Luxuries

Take a look at your bank account and see roughly how much you spend on food, petrol and spending. This will be able to give you an idea of how much you are spending.

On average a family of 4’s grocery bill is £400 for the month which is £100 per person.

But it does depend on your situation and lifestyle. For me, I live at home with my parents so my spending wasn’t that huge.

I would give myself each month:

  • Spending £100
  • Food £50
  • Petrol £50

And this worked well for me when I first started my budget. But now I have reduced my spending to £20 per week (£80 for the month) as I am maximising my savings as much as possible.

For your first budget I would over budget slightly as this is a learning curve and you may need the extra money. But be sensible!

Step 6: Decide on your budget method

Now its time to decided on your budget method.

The 3 Key Benefits of Project Budgeting « PM box | Exploring the Value of  Project Management

I have a post which you can check out here > What is the best budgeting method for you?

In this post I have written in detail about 4 different budgeting methods. The budgeting method that I use is the zero based budget. This means that at the end of the month I am left with £0 in my bank account.

This method is great for someone like me who wants to reign in their spending and increase their savings.

So do some research to find the best method for you.

Step 7: Do a trial month

You are nearly ready to do your budget for “real”, so now it’s time to do a trail month. This is a great way to see if your budget method and expenses work.

Whenever I change my budget I always do a trial month, that way I can have a clear understanding of my spending and debt payoff.

During your trail month, track all your spending and outgoings. This will give you a clear indication if you need to change anything about your budget.

That’s why I would over budget, if you normally spend £400 a month on food shopping up it to £450 for a buffer. Don’t go from spending hundreds of pounds to spending £50 a week on food. The whole point of a budget is to have control over your spending, not leaving you and your family hungry.

You can learn, set yourself targets. If you spent £500 on food one month why not reduce it to £450 the next month? That way you are still reducing your spending without effecting your home life too much.

Step 8: Review

Once you complete your trail month you need to review what you have done so far. Take some time going over your spending and figure out what is going wrong.

I always ask myself these questions when I review my budget:

  • What went well?
  • What didn’t go well?
  • What can I do better?
  • How am I going to change this?

To me this is the best way to review. For me I was spending a lot of money on meal deals for work. On average I was spending £8 per day on unhealthy food and snacks. Once I realised this is where I was going wrong I started meal prepping which has saved me lots of money.

Step 8: Create your budget

And your ready to start your budget for real!

By now you should have a clear understanding of your bills, expenses and savings. So you are ready to go!

Remember you will make mistakes, you will over spend some months but that’s okay. As long as you learn from your mistakes you will smash your budget!

I hope that this post has helped you have a better understanding of budgets and how to make it successful.

Make sure you check out my previous posts as I am always sharing the tips and tricks I have learned along my journey! 🙂

How I have improved my credit score

Since starting my financial journey I have learned a lot of tips and tricks that I would like to share. And one of those tips is how to improve my credit score. Now, i’m no Martin Lewis but I do know what has worked for me.

I never realised how important it was to have a good credit score especially when looking to buy your own home but now I do. And I have worked hard over the last few years to improve mine as much as possible.

If you are interested in learning how I improved my credit score then keep reading as I share the 4 things I have done to improve mine!

!Quick disclaimer: I am not trained in Finance coaching or credit scores, this what I have done to improve my credit score and research I have found!

Paying off my debt

This may seem like an obvious starting point but unfortunately, paying off debt can effect your credit score.

According to Experian (click on the link if you would like to read the whole report)if you pay off your debt in installments this can effect your score, and if you pay off a low balance before a bigger balance can also effect your score.

“For some people, paying off a loan might increase their scores or have no effect at all. It all depends on your overall credit profile and the type of credit score you’re checking.”

Check Your Free Credit Score | Experian

I only had £4,000 worth of debt and I was paying this off in installments over 5 years, this meant that my credit score dropped by a lot! So I saved up and made a big payment to clear it and my credit score went up.

On Instagram I have seen people paying off thousands of pounds worth of debt and their credit score drops.

If you have a lot of debt always start off by paying off the lowest balance. Yes this will effect your credit score but it is always better starting with the smallest as this will be more manageable.

Be patient when paying off debt, it takes time and your credit score will move around but it is worth it in the end!

Get a credit card and spend on it

I know, I know, I just spent all that time paying off debt and now I am getting a credit card which could get me into more debt.

But hear me out, improving your credit score isn’t all about paying off debt its also about showing the banks you are able to borrow credit.

UK banks plan to hike cost of credit card borrowing | Money | The Guardian

As I had a small amount of debt, I was showing the banks that I am not able to borrow credit which doesn’t look good for buying a home.

So in November 2019 I took out a credit card and started spending on there. I took this advice from Martin Lewis’s Money saving expert site. On there he explains that having a credit card and using it to spend a small amount on there and paying the balance off in FULL on the due date will improve your credit score.

Every month since then I spend between £50 -£100 and pay it off in full and my credit score has improved. I buy petrol and occasionally online purchases.

A quick disclaimer, if you are someone who has credit card debt then this might not be for you. But as someone who only uses this for small amounts each month I am able to control my spending.

Never go into my overdraft

Since being on a budget I have never gone into my overdraft, I always make sure I have complete control over what money leaves my bank account.

I do have an overdraft arranged with my bank account but I have never used it. Just because it is there doesn’t mean I will use it. As according to Experian an overdraft will count as debt on your credit score.

Why overdraft charges are overdue an overhaul

An arranged overdraft is unlikely to have a major impact on your credit score as long as you don’t go beyond your overdraft limit or have payments refused. In fact, if you use your overdraft sensibly and regularly pay it off it could improve your credit rating.(Link to this website)

And having a a current account with the same bank for a umber of years can also improve your score.

Pay my bills on time

Before I started my budgeting journey I used to miss my due dates on my bills. I forgot to pay my car insurance and car tax which left me in bad credit.

I now have a lot more control on my bills and when they are due.

How often do you check your utility bills? – Which? Conversation

When starting your budget make sure you know when your bills are due, that way you wont go into your overdraft, which in turn effects your credit score.


I hope this post has been helpful and you can find some ways in which you can improve your score.

Don’t forget to check out my Instagram for all the latest updates on my journey.

My favourite saving challenges for 2020.

Hello and welcome back to my blog!

In this blog post I will be sharing 5 of my favourite saving challenges 4 of which I have done or I am still completing.

There are so many saving challenges out there that you can do to save money.

Saving challenges are a great way to start your savings journey. If you are new to saving or paying of huge amounts of debt but want to have some savings then hopefully at least one of these challenges will help you get started.

! Quick disclaimer I did not create any of these challenges I have credited where I found the challenges and creators!

1p challenge

The 1p challenge is a great place to start. In 365 days you can save £667.95!

You save 1p for every day you do this challenge for example day 1 you put away 1p, day 2 you put away 2p and so on for 365 days.

I found this tracker online which shows you how much to put away each day.

Above is the tracker that I use, this tracker is great for adding amounts weekly, it is from The Skint Dad Blog please check out his page to download all his trackers.

I started this challenge last year when I was new to savings and I love it, I have nearly £400 saved and I don’t miss this money. The only downside to this challenge is that it takes 1 year to reach your goal. But if you are paying off debt this is a great place to start.

A lot of people do this challenge to save for holidays and Christmas.

20p Challenge

I love this challenge! I am doing this challenge at the moment I love it.

This one doesn’t take as long as the 1p challenge, in just 31 days you can save £99.20!

It’s the same principle as the 1p challenge every day you put 20p away. So day 1 you put away 20p, day 2 you put away 40p and so on.

This is a picture I found online however I have made my own version as I started this challenge on 19th May 2020.

I have over £20 saved already. I will continue this challenge for the rest of the year. I should have over £600 saved by the end of the year which I will save for the fees of moving next year.

Lottiebudgets Money Monday

This challenge comes from Instagram and from a lovely lady’s page called @lottiebudgets. This challenge is by far my favourite and I am on my second run of this challenge.

Every Monday tick of a box with different amounts of money you have saved.

There are two versions of this challenge:

Money Monday Save £450 in 21 weeks I have already done this challenge once and I am on week 3 of round 2!

LottieBudgets Money Monday Quarterly Challenge

Money Monday Quarterly Challenge Save £500 in 13 weeks. I haven’t done this challenge but I would like to do this challenge at the end of the year.

Head over to @lottiebudgets instagram page to download her money Monday trackers and please give her a follow her page is full of saving motivation!

Doing this challenge makes Monday my new favourite day of the week. Fiver savings challenge

I found this fiver savings challenge on the website and it looks amazing. Each week you put some money away, the amount you put away will increase by £5 each week for 52 weeks and at the end you should have saved £6,890 which is an huge amount of money!

Week 1 you put away £5, week 2 you put away £10 and so on.

I haven’t done this challenge but it’s one I’m going to consider for next year. Check out the tracker below, download it to your phone and get started.

I hope these challenges will give you some inspiration to start saving. They are fun, easy to do and will increase your savings.

Make sure to follow my twitter and Instagram account for updates on my savings journey and the tips and tricks I have learned along the way.

Hannah xx