Making a budget
Want to know how to make a budget, but at the same time, you don’t really care? You’ve come to the right place.
We all know making a budget is A Wise Thing To Do™. It’s also pretty boring… but as luck would have it, not very difficult. Here’s The Mix’s ultra-quick guide to budgeting, so you can go back to whatever you were doing before (unless that was spending money you don’t have).
Step one: How much money do you have?
By which we mean, how much money comes into your account each month?
Find out by whacking open your payslip or checking your bank account online on payday. Or, if you’re a student, work out how much student loan you get and when. Write this number big at the top – add glitter-glue and stickers if you really want.
Step two: How much money ABSOLUTELY HAS TO leave your account each month?
Deduct from your sparkly grand-total, the money that you have to spend. Usually on those boring-but-essential things like shelter and food. Outgoings most of us have are:
- Bills, including council tax, mobile, electricity, water and internet
- Food – work out how much you roughly spend a week and then multiply it by four
- Travel to work/college
- Student loan/credit card repayments
Step three: Plan for unexpected costs
When you’re budgeting, it’s always worth adding an extra 10% to your essential outgoings just in case you get a sudden kick in the financial butt. For instance, what if your car breaks down? Or it’s your mate’s birthday? What if some kind of technical glitch means your bank doesn’t transfer your pay cheque to your account?
It’s extremely important to have this 10% cushion – otherwise you risk being suddenly catapulted into a world of debt you haven’t planned for.
Yep, I’m good at this. They call me Budget Planner…son.
Step four: Work out what you have left
This figure is your ‘disposable income’. But try not to dispose of it too quickly! £70 a week might seem a lot to start with, but once you’ve bought a round after work on Tuesday and a magazine and coffee on Wednesday, you’re already down to £55 and it’s not even the weekend yet.
Sometimes it helps you get a sense of how much you have by feeling the actual cash in your hand – one tip is to take out your weekly budget at the start of the week. You’ll then soon get used to how much money you really have. Safety first, though. Best not to walk around with all of it on you at once!
I hate maths. Can I get someone to sort a budget out for me?
Yes. There are lots of online tools to help you break down your spending. Here are some we’d recommend:
Students can pop in details of their income and UCAS will generate a handy budget for them with this calculator.
Or head here to check out the Money Advice Service’s more intense budget planner, it takes around 20 minutes and will really help you get a hold on your ingoings and outgoings.
If you need further support on this, give us a call on 0808 808 4994. We’re unable to give specific money advice but can guide you to the best places for expert support.
Watch our video on how to make a budget:
- Use the Money Helper's budget planner to take charge of your finances.
- Youth Legal offers free legal advice to young people aged 16-25 in the London area on issues concerning housing, homelessness, social care, debt and immigration. Get advice by calling 020 3195 1906 or emailing [email protected]
- Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
- Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.
By Holly Turner
Updated on 06-Jun-2021
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