Tag Archives: budgeting

Some tips to help with those new year resolutions

cold remedies for new years eveA combination of the lurg and some sad news, has somewhat delayed my usual new year merriment. So this year I’m taking inspiration from Jenny of Rock my Wedding, and will be celebrating Chinese New Year on 23rd January with some serious gusto to make up for it!

We still celebrated the new year, but the sumptuous Jamie Oliver inspired feast was replaced with easy to cook homely food. Drunkenly dancing around the lounge to Jools Holland’s Hootenany; turned into getting slightly tipsy whilst watching Alan Carr on the telly. Ah well.

If London’s midnight firework display is anything to go by, this is certainly going to be an impressive year and hopefully one where we’re allowed to feel proud of Britain – through the Olympics, the Queen’s Jubilee and, well, just being darn fabulous.

My full on celebrations aren’t the only things which will have to wait until 23rd January. I’m also yet to make any new years resolutions, which is most unlike me. I think some of tomorrow will be spent with an endless mug of tea, a pretty notepad, a pen, and me, musing over what I really want from 2012.

For those of your who have already set your new years resolutions. Here’s some posts which might help you to make those hopes and dreams come true…

If your new years resolution is… to save money, you might like:

If your new years resolution is… to get a new job, you might like:

If your new years resolution is… to get that wedding booked, you might like:

Still not sure what your ressie should be? Paloma Faith posted this on Twitter, which I think provides a healthy philosophy for 2012, in lieu of any actual resolutions:

Whatever you want from 2012. Happy Bloomin’ New Year. What are your new years resolutions?


What Babe Did Next


Thursday nights ain't what they used to be

I want to be able to regale you with tales of how I celebrated my new-found freedom with a magnum of champagne,  coupled with dancing ’til dawn. But with the exception of, what can only be described as, ‘a bit of a bop’ to an old Gods Kitchen CD whilst cooking tea, there have been no celebrations as yet.

This is partly because:

a.) Whilst I can see the exit sign, the end is a long way off yet – I’ve still got 81 working days to go at my current ‘day job’. Not that I’m counting, you understand.

b.) Whilst this is all terribly exciting; it’s also shit scary. On the one hand the fact that Love of my Life and I are investing in such a lovely, homely property makes me all the more determined to succeed. On the other hand it makes a voice in my head go ‘Eeeek! What about the rather large mortgage’.

And, so, because of reason b, I have spent the evening with a sobering pint of squash, a trusty spreadsheet and a lovely big calculator with the most amazing clickety buttons (I know, I need to get out more). Yes, it’s been time to do some number crunching and look where that skinny waist belt can be tightened a bit…

Spending cuts

Redundancy cover – considering amending to only cover Love of my Life, or cancelling completely

Electricity, gas, water, groceries – unfortunately I need to cook/wash/eat – but for the next few months I’ll need to try to do this a bit more economically

Contact Lens subscription – a possible luxury I could do without, if needs be

Train Fare – if I’m not commuting to the day job on a regular basis, this would be one less expense

Spending money/saving – wouldn’t happen – essentials only (eek!)

Fees for financial products – these are ordinarily offset by cash back offers, but if I’m not spending I won’t be earning cash back so another possible way of making my money stretch a weeny bit further

Lovefilm subscription – a luxury I can do without, we’ll just have to watch all the box-sets we’ve been given as Christmas presents over the years.

All-in-all I reckon these cost-saving measures could save us approximately (big calculator with clicky buttons time)… £3821.76 per annum, over two-and-a-half times my monthly take home, which leads me to wonder… how much does working cost…?!

Wedding Day Budget? Something we Excel at, Naturally

Wedding_SpreadsheetAs you will no doubt know by now, myself and Love of my Life are spreadsheet aficionados. So it should come as no surprise that one of the first tasks we undertook when planning our wedding was to pull together our budget spreadsheet.

Geeky? Maybe. And at times it seemed useless. What was the point of having a long list of items, with their associated cost next to them, when we don’t have enough saved for even half of them. Luckily we persevered.

Our spreadsheet lists every single item or area which we’ll need to part with cash for (and in true OCD style similar items are grouped together and, er, colour coded). It was depressing and a tad worrying to see a figure of £16k sitting at the foot of the spreadsheet. Laughing at our puny bank balance in that evil, knowing way usually reserved for cartoon villains. On the plus side that included all of our proposed (pardon the pun) expenses for wedding AND honeymoon.

In my opinion plotting out what you plan on spending for all areas of the wedding is really important for a number of reasons…

1.) It makes you think about what’s really important for your big day and where you can compromise. For us the venue and food HAS to be right and we’ll pay more bucks for that, but we can compensate for that by spending less on venue decor and making stuff ourselves (do Hobbycraft do a loyalty card?!)

2.) It focuses your mind on what you need to save. Remember SMART goals? Knowing how much you need to make your dream day right for you allows you to pull into place your savings plan accordingly.

3.) It makes it easier for people who want to contribute. Family and friends are likely to want to support you on your special day, but them giving you money can be awkward. Perhaps they’re assuming you’re going to spend it on flowers but instead you opt for balloons. With a list of items to chose from they can see what you want and opt to contribute towards something tangible. Do, of course, check how much input they’re expecting on said item. If your mom offers to buy your dress you might want to check what her expectations are of the perfect gown in comparison to yours.

4.) It allows you to make rational purchases. It’s so easy to be swept along in the moment and up-sold items for your big day. You need to have an idea of what you’re prepared to pay for everything so you can decide whether to snap it up, or walk away and find if cheaper elsewhere. Hence why the £1200 gown which I tried on is not on order. Obviously there will be some occasions where you just fall in love with something and end up blowing the budget, but if you did that on every item? Eek.

5.) You get to feel super smug when you come in under budget. OK, it doesn’t happen often, but my god it’s a sweet feeling when it does.

So whilst a wedding should be a whole lotta heart, using your head for the money part could mean you start your married life, well, slightly more solvent. And who wants to be arguing over money?

Slow Progress


Almost on budget...? Smashing!

Yesterday marked the first payday of 2011, so when I got back to the sanctity of home, I dusted off my trusty calculator and picked up the good old laptop to investigate my budget.

The good news? I only went £33.79 overspent ‘last month’. A step in the right direction, although ideally I wouldn’t be going overspent at all, so a baby step, maybe? Of course, there is that old excuse that it’s been aaaaages since the last payday due to that Chrimble thing – if that counts for anything?!

Of course, because I’ve only overspent by a smidge that does mean I’ve got more money to spend and (more importantly) save this month. Woo hoo! Bring it on! Venga Venga! Etc… A-hem!

Keeping a spend diary

I have £255.04 to last me from this payday (26th November) to the next (21st December). That’s just over £250 to spend on whatever I want – clothes, lunches, coffee… It’s a little more than £10 a day to use to purchase glorious things just for me. That’s easy, right? £255 (and the all important 4p) should easily last me until mid-December and enable me to have some fun along the way, maybe there’ll even some funds left over at the end?!

Hmm, if you believe that you truly have no idea of how capable I am at spending my money on absolute cr*p. So I’ve decided to keep a spend diary, which entails…

1.) Keeping a notepad & pen with me at all times
2.) Noting down every single purchase made with this months ‘kitty

I’m hoping this will have two affects..

1.) Highlighting where all my money is going/wasted, so I can address this
2.) Ensuring I make a more active choice of whether I need to spend or not. (It’s amazing how knowing you have to write details of your spends down can guilt trip you into spending less.)

At present it looks something like this:

Available funds: £255.04

Friday 26th November (payday)
Extra Christmas gift for my sister: £4.99 (Boots)
Lunch & more Christmas gifts: £12.00 (M&S)
Yet more Christmas gifts & wrap: £8.05 (WH Smith)
Lipstick, nail polish, eyeshadow: £8.18 (Boots)

Daily total spent: £33.22
Funds available: £221.82

Saturday 27th November
Grande gingerbread latte with whip and slice of caramel & pecan cheesecake (for sis visiting from Bristol), Tall Eggnog latte and chocolate and hazelnut latte (for me): £10.20 (Starbucks)
Pasta, wine and tip: £17.00 (Pizza Express)
A warming cuppa as my sister’s train was delayed by 40 minutes: £1.79 (random train station cafe)
Glamour magazine (with free Nails Inc nail polish!) and Fruit Pastilles: £2.70 (train station newsagent)

Daily total spent: £31.69
Funds available: £190.30

Sunday 28th November
Sanitary products: £0.85 (Wilko)

Daily total spent: £0.85
Funds available: £182.28

Monday 29th November
Dry shampoo and sanitary products: £12.09 (Boots)

Daily total spent: £12.09
Funds available: £170.19

That’s £58.45 spent in just four days! This could prove an interesting experiment.

Getting back on track

There was a certain irony when I first started creating this post, as I was sat on the train on my way back from work (track – geddit?). However, WordPress went screwy and now it looks as though the jokes on me with me having to rework my musings. Ho hum.

Anyway – gripe about technology over – over the past couple of days I have realised I have a problem. Oh yes, my name is Babe on a Budget and I readily spend more than I earn. Now is not the time to bury my head in the sand, now is the time for action (methinks Sir Winston would have been proud of that one, well maybe if he was a spendaholic like me anyway!).

And, so, I find myself revisiting my budget spreadsheet (as I do every month) and December is going to look a little like this…

Contact Lenses: £11.30
Joint Account for bills: £781.85 (to cover mortgage, bills, groceries etc…)
Mobile: £39.00
Train Fare: £54.00
Savings: £0.00 (tut, tut!)
Egg Card Fee: £1.00
Kitty: £255.04
Pay off last months overspend: £270.58 (*wince*)

Thing is, I did my budget spreadsheet for November too and still managed to overspend (as you’ll see from above) so I need to find a way of keeping myself on the straight and narrow. Thinking caps at the ready!

Updating your budget

There’s no point in creating a perfectly crafted budget for it to sit in your drawer gathering dust, never to be seen again!

You now need to use this to keep track of your spending. There’s different ways you can do this. If you’re particularly savvy then I believe there are some swanky smartphone apps to help you.

Here’s how I do mine with a little help from Excel…

My budget

My monthly budget spreadsheet

Comedic title and pink header – well, you’ve got to try to make finances fun somehow – lame I know!!!!

Column 1 – Lis t of ‘Regular outgoings’ (e.g. mobile, train fare, savings, kitty)

Column 2 – Who I pay those ‘Regular outgoings’ to, so Boots for my contact lenses, 3 for my mobile etc…

Column 3 – How much I’ve budgeted that month for that particular ‘Regular outgoing’, so £11 for contact lenses etc…

Column 4 – How much I’ve spent on that ‘Regular outgoing’ – this is updated as money is spent on each item, so for example, the kitty category can sometimes be updated on a daily basis, while others tend to be monthly.

Column 5 – Where that money is – so which account its happily sitting in (although I’ve just noticed that my spreadsheet actually isn’t accurate – slap on the wrists for me!)

Column 6 – How much is left in that spend category. So for monthly ‘Regular outgoings’ this will be marked as £0.00 once that payment has been taken, until then it shows how much is sitting there waiting to be spent. For items which are paid less frequently this is to show the money which builds up in the account to sit there ready and waiting for the bill to arrive.

Last updated – so I can keep track of whether I included the latest splurge!

Notes – again so I can keep track of any payments which I’m waiting on, or any money which anybody owes me.

Apologies if it’s not totally clear, I had hoped to do an annotated version of the spreadsheet to make it easier to see, but technology is not getting along with me today…in fact if anyone could tell me where all of my iTunes songs have disappeared to I’d really appreciate it!

Also remember that your budget is a work in progress and will change frequently. I had to change mine this month as I got a pay rise (woo hoo!), but, my tax code has also gone mental (trust me, it wasn’t that much of a pay rise!) so I’ve actually picked up less than what I normally would! Basically just make sure you’re not spending more than you’re earning and that you’re saving anything you don’t need to spend – to quote those adorable meerkats, simples!

What works for you? xx