Four tips to help you you keep on top of household bills

Do you know how much you can afford to spend each month? Or do you lie awake at night worrying how you’ll pay for everything? Read four tips to help you you keep on top of household bills.

Even though our household bills are apparently rising more slowly than the rate of inflation, it can be tough keeping on top of them. And often it’s not the large outgoings like mortgage or rent that catch us out, but the many smaller bills that can easily add up each month if we don’t keep an eye on them.

So if you’re sick of running out of money each month, or dread checking your online statement, what can you do?

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Four tips to help you you keep on top of household bills

The best way to prevent any problems when it comes to household bills is to get ahead of them. Here are four tips to help you keep on top of your finances, and end your monthly money worries.

1) Create a budget

The first step is to understand just how much money you have to work with, and what expenses you can (and need to) reliably plan for. Make a list of all your incomings, and another of your essential, fixed cost regular outgoings, like mortgage, utility bills, car payments etc. From this, work out how much money you will always have left over each month.

Next make a third list of all regular outgoings that can vary in cost, such as food, entertainment and toiletries, and add an approximate cost for them. (If you can do this in a spreadsheet you can play around with the values until you find the right balance.)

Now check these costs work with the amount of money you actually have to spend. If not, adjust them. Don’t forget to leave a buffer each month for unexpected expenses.

By getting into the habit of budgeting you can see where you can afford to spend more, and where you need to cut back. You’ll also be ahead of any unpleasant financial surprises!

2) Plan ahead

Don’t wait for sudden expenses to hit. When you’re creating your budget, think of the year ahead. Are there times you’ll need more money? Christmas, birthdays and holidays, for example? Or when your car insurance renewal comes around (if you pay annually)?

And what about school? Are any big trips coming up? Don’t forget buying uniform for a new school year, too. Try to include any annual expenses you think may come up.

You can also plan ahead on a weekly basis to save money – for example by meal planning. We’re wasting more money than ever by throwing unused food away. So a quick and easy way to add money back into your monthly budget is to plan ahead for your meals each week. This way you’ll only shop for ingredients you’ll definitely use.

This also gives you another saving – time! Instead of wasting time every evening staring into a fridge and wondering what you can pull together into a meal, you’ll know exactly what to do. If you really want to get one step ahead, you’ll plan some meals you can pre-prepare on a Sunday and freeze, ready to pull out the day you need them.

3) Reduce your outgoings

There are many different ways you can cut down on your weekly and monthly costs. For example, if you drive to work can you car share with a colleague? Or even walk or cycle?

And what about your bills? Are you really getting the best deals? It’s worth shopping around using online calculators to find out. Sometimes even just calling a provider and asking if you’re on the best deal is worth doing. It may be they’ve added a new, better value deal, or you’re not using everything you’re currently paying for.

When annual renewals come in, get into the habit of checking they’re the lowest possible price. For example, are they offering a better deal online to attract new customers? Again, it’s worth calling the company to check they can’t do a better deal for you. (This savings guide will help you save money on your home phone and broadband.)

And what about food and toiletries? Are you shopping smartly? Could you get the same or similar products from another shop, or online? Are you buying things you don’t need or throw away? Even just small savings here and there can add up to a significant sum over time.

4) Stay organised

And finally, don’t let taking control of your bills be a one-off exercise. By using an ongoing spreadsheet (or an online financial tool) to keep track of what you’re spending each week, you’ll always be on top of what’s coming in and going out. You’ll know when you need to cut back, and when you can afford to splash out without guilt.

And you can make sure you have enough put by for any sudden expenses (like moving home or a big car repair), so you don’t need to lie awake at night worrying where you’re going to find the money.

Are you on top of your household finances?

Do you know how much you have coming in and out each month? Are you spending wisely and planning ahead for big expenses? If you’re not on top of your household finances we recommend following these four tips and making sure you know how much you do and don’t have to spend each month.