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How to make the most of a tight budget

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BathKnight123 Tue 15-Apr-14 14:08:30

Family run company Bath-Knight specialise in bathroom adaptations and are the original inventors of the belted bath-lift. Managing Director Annette Greenwood shares Bath-Knight’s top tips on budgeting.

Living within a tight budget can be quite difficult and trying to make ends meet can become very stressful and feel like an ongoing battle.

If your only income is a basic pension, covering your bills and shopping can often seem impossible. But, fear not as there are ways around living within your means without having to skip meals or live in a cold house.

1. Write down all of your expenses. One of the easiest ways to get started is to write down exactly what you pay out every week or month and take it off the total you are actually receiving. You will then get a clear idea as to where your money is going to and how much you are left with or if you are spending more than what is coming in.

2. Once you have your list, you will then have a clear idea as to what can be swapped for a cheaper alternative. For example, you could be on the highest tariff for your gas and electric bill but you may not be using much so arrange for a meter reading and request to be placed on a more suitable plan. Ofgem have recently confirmed that energy suppliers will now have to give their customers personalised billing information so that you can see if you are on the best tariff. This is to protect people from paying out too much money on a service they barely use and alternatively, to help anyone who seems to be using a lot but not paying enough.

3. Change any direct debits and services to more suitable and affordable options and you can then focus on clearing any debt. If you have a loan, credit card or you still have a little bit left to pay on your mortgage, it is best to get these cleared as soon as you can.

4. As well as looking into changing your bill providers and tariffs, you should also look into ways of making your grocery shopping more affordable. It is important to eat and going without to compensate for other finances should not happen to anyone and your weekly shop does not have to cost you an arm and a leg. Here are some little hints for making your grocery shopping that little bit more affordable:

• Go through your cupboards – Is there any food that can be made into a bigger batch and frozen? Check any labels on the foods to make sure they are within their “use-by” date and if it is suitable for another week or longer, keep it off your shopping list.
• Make a list and stick to it – That way you can avoid over-buying and only get your essentials. You could even estimate how much each item will cost and see if you can stick to that total.
• Basic products– No frills and store brand items are perfect if you are living within a tight budget. They cost the fraction of the price of the well-known brands and are good quality. Every food aisle in the supermarket will have an own-brand section and you will be very surprised at the quality and especially the price.
• Reductions – Some fresh meat, fruit and vegetables can have quite a large price tag but, you can still eat good quality meat, fruit and vegetables at a lower price. The “reduced to clear” sections in a supermarket have some fantastic savings on lots of different fresh produce. If you have room in your freezer, stock up and freeze what you can when you get home.
• Coupons – Vouchers, rewards schemes and coupons are all fabulous ways to save a little bit of money here and there with your weekly shopping. That few pence off a bunch of bananas or a buy-one-get-one-free offer on your frozen vegetables can make a big difference to your total food bill.

5. Put a little bit away for a rainy day – Once you have been budgeting for a few weeks, you should start to notice that you have a little bit of money left from your income. It is worth putting this money aside and saving it up just in case you need it for an emergency or just treat yourself after all your savvy saving.

Now you will have the confidence to plan and start budgeting. It can seem daunting at first but once you start, it will feel as if a weight has been lifted from you. It is also worthwhile to reassess your budget every couple of months to see if there are any extra savings you can make.