Loader Logo
Ideas Post

Nicola Fisher


How to Manage Your Money on a Tight Budget

I was going to share this as a premium post but it needs more work so here are the basics.

Do you run out of money before the end of the month? Do you struggle to pay 'big' bills like house/car insurance, car-related costs? Do you spread the load on your credit card?

If so, this list is for you.

I'm not saying it's easy - and it will require some discipline. But, if you follow this plan, by the end of 12 months, you'll be in full control of your monthly finances.

    1. Getting Started

    Gather together all your financial documentation. This includes:

    Bank statements

    Credit card statements





    Savings accounts


    2. List Annual Payments

    Think about anything that is due once a year (even if you make monthly payments):

    Car Insurance

    Car Tax

    House Insurance

    Contact Lenses/Glasses

    Car Servicing/MOT

    Heating/Boiler Servicing


    Website Hosting

    Domain Names

    Recovery Service


    3. Spreadsheet

    I've created a template. Fill it in with your own details. Message me if you get stuck.

    Once you've added your information, you can see all your outgoings in one place. Most importantly, you can see how much money you have left at the end of the month.

    The idea is to account for everything.

    4. Clear Checkbook

    It's not the most sexy app but it works. I've used it for years and, although I've thought of finding an alternative, I've stuck with Clear Checkbook because it's so good at showing me where my finances are at.

    Set up an account.

    Add all of the bank accounts, credit cards, savings accounts listed earlier.

    Then add the current balance for all of them.

    5. Recurring transactions

    Go to Tools and add all of your recurring transactions.

    These are monthly payments (standing orders, direct debits). All your subscriptions, memberships etc.

    I run my financial month from the 28th because that's when I pay my credit card.

    On the 28th, I pay the full balance on my credit card and then go through all of the month's recurring transactions and add them to my current account. This lets me see what is left when I've paid everything, even though some payments won't go out for another three weeks. I know then what I have to play with that month.

    6. Save

    I have several 'envelope' accounts. I set recurring transactions for each of them so this might be £200 for food, £50 towards Christmas, money for holidays and, most importantly, contingency money. (See below).

    On the 28th, I move money from my current account into the relevant 'envelope' account.

    I also save money every month. It might start as a small amount but it mounts up and in twelve months time, you can accumulate a nice sum.

    7. Contingency

    This account started out as the contingency account but it's really for annual bills.

    If you look at the spreadsheet you'll see there's a column called 'Annual Amount. Here you enter the full annual amounts for your car insurance, house insurance, car bills etc. The total at the bottom will tell you how much you need to save in your contingency account to cover your bills over the year.

    Now, the first year can be tough if you currently pay your bills monthly. Yes, you can continue to pay monthly but this will incur interest fees and I'm not a fan of those.

    To get on to an annual payment, you may need to adopt a hybrid plan - pay some bills monthly but save to pay the others annually, until you can save up enough money.

    8. Budget

    As well as using the recurring transactions for bills and outgoings, I use them for my budget. I set an amount each week for food shopping and petrol. I pay for these with my credit card so the transactions are added to Clear Checkbook in my credit card account. I'm very strict about staying on budget. If I go over on food shopping one week, I deduct it from the following week.

    9. Non-negotiables

    I classify all my outgoings as either non-negotiables or negotiables. Non-negotiables have to be paid. Negotiables are a choice.

    When our electricity bill tripled, I reviewed the negotiables and cancelled what I could. It all helps.

    10. In control

    Since I started using this method, a long time ago, it's given me control over my finances, it's reduced surprises to almost zero and it's meant that I have money for every bill.

    Once you're on a roll with the process, it makes all the difference.

    Got questions? Let me know. I'd be interested to hear how the spreadsheet works for you.

0 Like.0 Comment
Jayand 7 more liked this
Comments (0)

No comments.