Plan your financial budget

Two men leaning over railing

The best way to keep track of your money is to write a budget. You will need to write down all your outgoings (what you spend) and income (the money you are paid or given) for a week or month. You can then work out if you have money left over to save or if you are spending more money than you have coming in. If you spend more money than you receive you could end up in debt. The most useful budgets include every little thing you buy: each cup of coffee, each weekday meal deal. Small amounts of money we spend here and there quickly add up without us even realising. 

Top ten tips for budgeting:

1. Write a list of your income and outgoings

Making a budget sheet with all the money you have coming in and the money you spend can quickly show you where you can start saving those pennies. Remember to include everything! That cup of coffee at the train station and packet of crisps after college can quickly add up.

2. Subtract your outgoings from your income

Once you have written your budget sheet, subtract your outgoings from your income. If you have money left over at the end of each week or month you might decide to put this in a savings account. If you are spending more money than you get, you might end up in debt. Try to work out ways of spending less to keep your finances in check.

3. Keep records of your spending

Keep receipts for everything you spend in a week. You might find that you are spending more money than you realise. You can then use these receipts to help work out a really accurate budget sheet.

4. Write a list before going to the supermarket

Supermarkets are designed to get you to spend money. Offers and deals are often placed by checkouts and entrances to catch your eye and encourage you to make impulse purchases. Go in armed with a list and only buy the items that you went in for. You could save lots of money in the long run.

5. Set aside 'treat money' each month

As long as your have money left over each month, it is okay to spend your money on more luxury items. The key is to save up for them in advance rather than borrow money to pay for them. Payday loans in particular can lead to huge amounts of debt very quickly.

6. Plan ahead for big money events

If you know you will want to go on holiday in summer, you can start saving the year before. This means you will have more time to save up smaller amounts each month rather than putting yourself in debt nearer the time. Spreading the amount you need to save throughout the year will be much more manageable than a last minute panic.

7. Set a weekly limit for small purchases

Keep money for small purchases, such as coffee or snacks, in your purse or wallet at the beginning of the week. Once the money has been spent, wait until the next week for more. This can help you stop spending money on unnecessary expenses and ensure you have the money you need for essentials, like travel and bills.

8. Think about switching providers

Find out if you can save money on your outgoings by switching providers. You might be able to save hundreds of pounds a year by switching mobile, internet or utility provider. Websites like uswitch.com help you to work out which provider is the best value for you.

9. Consider working a part-time job

Think about a Saturday job to start saving money for the future. It is important that you do not work so hard that it affects your school or college work, but many young people take up part time jobs to help them save for big purchases, like a holiday or driving lessons. See our employment section for more information on how many hours you are legally allowed to work each week, and how much you are entitled to earn.

10. Reward yourself for saving

If you have left over money after saving each month, do not be afraid of treating yourself. If you work hard for your money, it is good to enjoy it too. Budgeting and saving are important, but so is having fun.

Additional resources

  • This budget template can help you get started. Write down everything you spend money on in a week or month, and every bit of income you have. You then subtract your outgoings from your income to see what you have left.