How to create and stick to a budget.

The lives and fiances of millions of people within the UK are so precarious that it is estimated a third of families would have trouble finding £500 for an emergency unexpected bill. With average wages still below where they were eight years ago, it’s hardly surprising so many people are now struggling to make ends meat.

As a new year starts many people are thinking about creating budgets. In a bid to pay off Christmas debts, save for summer holidays  and setting some financial goals for the year. proper budget allows you to see how much you have to spend after all the direct debits and standing orders have gone out.It also provides a constant reminder as to how much money you have left each month after all the key bills have been paid ie: Rent, Mortgage, Gas, Electric, Water, Council Tax etc etc.


Many people don’t have a proper budget in place and are sometimes surprised to find how much they are overspending each month.

Despite it not being too complicated to write down how much is going in and out each month it can be difficult to find a decent budgeting tool, fill it in and stick to it without their being a receipt that goes astray or a week that goes by when its not been completed and quickly all the good intentions begin to unravel.


Where can you get a personal budgeting template.

There are a number of budgeting templates and resources that can be used to help you record your budget these include but are not exclusive too:


Computer Templates.  if you want a budget sheet that works across multiple computers (ie: at home and work) then Google.Docs have many budgeting templates available. As its on Google Docs it can be updated from anywhere.


Budget Brain recommended by Martin Lewis from ITV.

Although this does take quite a while to fill in the required information it is comprehensive there is a video on the website to guide you through how to fill it in as well as printable templates if that is your preferred way.



Money Dashboard –

keeps track of all your accounts in one place and breaks down your spending

Money Dashboard is a clever tool which lets you view all of your in-comings and out-goings including credit cards, current accounts and savings all in one place, using just one log in.

For those with accounts with several different providers this can be a real time saver particularly if you struggle to remember all of your online banking passwords. Users can get weekly snapshots via email and view their dashboard online.

It will categorise most of your transactions automatically, for example tagging your electricity bills, credit card or mortgage payments and even your food shopping, and the rest can be manually added.

The app then cleverly groups similar transactions together to highlight exactly how much you spend – useful in encouraging you to cut back on meals out or skipping your morning coffee.

The information is then used to create colourful graphs and charts that help you better understand your habits and where each pound is going each month. If you want to start a savings habit you can then set up goals with the help of the handy budget planner which can predict how much cash you will likely have left over.

The app is available for both Android and iOS users for free.


HomeBank –

Takes the complexity out of managing multiple accounts

No limit on number of accounts
Accounts can be linked

With support for an unlimited number of accounts, HomeBank is some of the best free personal finance software for novice users, no matter how complicated their finances may be. Accounts can be linked together to allow for transfers back and forth, and there are a number of templates available to make it easier to setup recurring transactions for bills and savings.

Clearly keen to make the potentially dull topic of money more approachable, Home Bank make heavy use of colourful graphs and charts to help you to visualise how you’re spending your money. There are also some handy extras like the vehicular cost tool, which makes it easy to monitor and predict the cost of car ownership based on factors including mileage and average repair cost.

Home Bank isn’t the most advanced financial tool, but it has all the essentials covered, making it ideal for most home users. It’s available for Windows, macOS and Linux, and an Android version is in the works.


These are just a few of the tools available to help manage your money. Have a look at each of them but also search for yourself and see what works best for you. At the end of the day, you’re in control whichever tool you use it needs to be right for you!


What goes into a Budget?

The Budgeting tools listed above will help you remember all the categories you will probably need .

  • Gather as much information about your regular income as possible – wages, benefits, pensions, board from lodgers, child maintenance etc.
  • Make a list of all priority outgoings. Rent, mortgage, Gas, Electric, Water etc.
  • Check your Direct Debits and Standing Orders.- is there any that you can cancel to save money?
  • The extra’s that may not show on the bank statement ie: cash payments – pint of milk, newspapers etc


Tips on how to budget?

However you choose to compile your budget you need to keep it up to date so that it is a accurate representation of your personal finances.

  • Decide on why you are budgeting is it for day to day living or to save for something special.
  • Start with your income and write it all down  remember if you get paid weekly, fortnightly or four weekly to work out the figures per calendar month.

weekly multiple by 52 divide by 12

Fortnightly multiply by 26 divide by 12

Four weekly multiply by 13 divide by 12

  • Keep all receipts from shops and put them somewhere you cant avoid them until you have updated your budget.if you buy something online.
  • Remember to get paper receipts whenever you take money out of the cash machine.
  • If you buy something online – Try to record it in your budget straight away.
  • if any direct debit amounts change keep  a physical reminder of the change until you have changed it within your budget.
  • Keep your budget where you can see it and where you can add to it. ie: if you are using a online tool, set it as your browser homepage.


if you have realised that you need further help contact 

National Debtline 
Telephone: 0808 808 4000
Fax: 0121 410 6230
Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm
Saturday, 9:30am to 1pm


Citizens Advice  


Debt Advice Foundation –  0800 043 40 50

Debt Advice Foundation is a registered national debt advice and education charity offering free, confidential support and advice to anyone worried about loans, credit and debt. Because we’re a debt charity, you can be sure that the advice we provide is impartial and based solely on what is best for you.


Disclosure: I Have not received a fee for writing this article. It is a personal opinion of ways to budget. I have no connection to any of the apps, computer software or helplines mentioned in this article.