Christmas Budget – Staying on Track

Hello all, Ell here. If this is your first time here, why not check out the About page to find out a little bit about me. I have talked about how a Statement of Affairs has helped me to start creating a family budget. For more information on this, read my post here. In today’s post I want to talk about a Christmas budget. In 2016 Brits spent an average of £636 on credit cards for Christmas gifts. The total amount of spending consumers put on credit was £11 billion. That’s an insane amount of money!

In the past I have definitely been guilty of adding to credit card debt. But I decided that I wasn’t going to increase any more debt. This year was going to be my year of change. I’ll share with you how I decided on our budget. I will also share tips on how to stick to the budget.

So here is what I did. I created a checklist and it has helped me so much. This year I am already on track to have a wonderful Christmas, without the debt hanging over me in January.

Christmas Budget

  1. Make a list of all the people I need to buy gifts for.
  2. Work out from my budget how much money I can save each month for Christmas. With this I have worked out the total money I have for my Christmas Budget.
  3. Split the Christmas budget between all the people in list 1.
  4. Make a shopping list for everyone.
  5. Look for prices of all the gift ideas I have.
  6. Look for discount codes or vouchers to get money off wherever possible.
  7. Use a cashback website, like TopCashBack or Quidco. I have earned so much cashback over the years through these websites.
  8. Keep track of the money I have spent on gifts to make sure I stay on track

As a result of the checklist, I have money saved now for the Christmas budget and have started my Christmas shopping. I have kept track of what I’ve spent on You Need a Budget. It’s helped me so much to keep account of all our money! I’ll talk more about it another time though. A notepad or a spreadsheet would also be fine to keep track.

Christmas Budget

One other thing I have done to help with the Christmas Budget is use the Asda Christmas Savings Card. It’s great! I picked up a card from in store and registered  it on the Asda Christmas Savings card website. Then every few weeks I have gone into Asda and topped it up with some money. Sometimes I have topped up with £5, but sometimes I’ve topped up less than that. I usually topped it up based on how much money was left over in my grocery budget for the month. It’s helped a lot because I’m currently on £92 which will be plenty for our Christmas groceries for the two weeks that we’re all at home during the Christmas break. Asda even give a small bonus towards the end of November.

Finally, in the next few weeks I’m going to make a grocery list. It will include the Christmas dinner, some party food and some extra special Christmas treats. When I have come  up with my grocery list I will share it with you guys, to show how I have stuck to a budget.

I’ve always found that the best place to get wrapping paper from is Costco. The rolls of wrapping paper are huge and seem to last forever. Therefore, I have decided that I will go to Costco again this year for the wrapping paper. One roll is usually enough to wrap all the gifts we buy. It’s also great quality because it’s quite thick. My favourite thing about the Costco wrapping paper though is that it is reversible. I love the look of gifts wrapped in different, but coordinated paper, so this is a great way to achieve that look without having to buy too much.

Do you have any Christmas budget tricks to share? How do you and your family decide on your Christmas budget? Does your food budget go out the window at Christmas or do you stick to your regular budget?

If you liked my ideas, why not share it with your friends and family using the share buttons below. Come back soon for more budget tips.

Statement of Affairs – A Place to Start

Hello all, Ell here. If this is your first time here, why not check out the About page to find out a little bit about me. In today’s post I am going to discuss a Statement of Affairs. Now that I have learnt how to complete and use a Statement of Affairs properly, it’s a great tool to help me keep track of our money and create a realistic budget. That’s the key to success, using a realistic budget. There is no point creating a budget that doesn’t include everything you spend money on throughout the year.

What is a Statement of Affairs?

What is it? Well, a Statement of Affairs (SOA) is a list of all your incoming money and your outgoings. Once you have completed the SOA, it makes it easier to identify where you can make savings.

It sounds easy doesn’t it. That’s what I thought the first time somebody suggested it to me. I used a calculator that I found on Money Saving Expert forum. If you want to use the same calculator that I used, you can find it here. Statement of Affairs

I sat down and put all my figures in. It looked great, there seemed to be plenty of money left over once everything had been accounted for. So why didn’t we have that much money left over at the end of every month? Why were we paying for things on a credit card and had very little savings?

What did I do wrong?

I started to read more on the internet so that I could get it right. I needed to get this right for the sake of my family. After reading other people’s experiences and budgets, I found out what I had done wrong. When I completed my Statement of Affairs, I was just using figures that I thought were ideal for each spend category, rather than what we actually spent.

For example, what I wrote down for our fuel spend was £120 which I thought was a reasonable amount considering the driving we did every day. However, I started to follow the advice that so many people were offering, which was to go through all my bank statements and receipts to see what we were actually spending money on. It took AGES but was well worth it. I found out that rather than spending £120 per month on fuel, I was actually spending closer to £160.

Groceries was my biggest shock. I thought £260 per month was about the right amount for a family of 4. When I started looking through bank statements and receipts, I found that we were spending on average £500 per month! It was no wonder we never had any money at the end of the month. The really terrible thing that struck me was how much food we were throwing away every week. I might as well have been throwing money away!

What to do next?

I finished checking through bank statements for 6 months. It was a really good exercise because it highlighted things that we had spent money on that I didn’t think of in my first attempt at completing the Statement of Affairs. It gave me a really good indication of how much money we spent on insurance, entertainment, birthdays and Christmas. I had all the information in front of me and found plenty of areas to improve.

With everything in front of me I decided to look at each category and figure out a way to save money on all of them. Some of the changes were small changes and didn’t save hundreds of pounds, however all of the little savings add up. Every day I try to tweak my budget to make extra savings. Sometimes the things I change work out for us and sometimes they don’t. The best thing about doing this is I know I can keep making changes but because I’ve already reduced our outgoings, I have a bit of wiggle room in our budget without our rainy day fund suffering.

I’ll go into more detail on what changes I made on our budget next time. If you would like to read about some of the changes in more detail, please subscribe so you get an email update every time a new post is published.

Money Saving Mum

Have you ever wondered what you would do if you lost your job? Could you and your family manage if you suddenly lost a monthly wage? As a Mum to two children this is something I worry about a lot.

I often wonder how we would cope if we were a one income household. I realised a long time ago that I had to start looking at our finances and adjust our budgets accordingly. I mean, you just never know what’s around the corner. You could lose your job or become sick and have to take time off work.

When I started taking this seriously, I realised I had to make big changes. I’ve always looked for vouchers and ways to save money, but this was bigger than that. This wasn’t about trying to save 10% on a new pair of jeans, this was about changing the way we spend money to get us through a period of less income. I felt like I needed to make changes so if we did lose an income, we would have an emergency fund to fall back on and would be living a reasonably frugal lifestyle. My thought process was that if we were already used to living within budgets, it wouldn’t be a massive shock to the system if we ever had to live on one income for any amount of time.

While I am working hard and will continue to work hard to get our own family sorted out, I thought why not try to help other people too. As a Money Saving Mum I decided to use some of my spare time to keep track of any ideas that I use to save money or make a little bit of extra money. I could then share those ideas with other people to help somebody else in a similar position.

Money is always a tricky subject to talk about. So many people are private about earnings and debts, it’s almost a taboo subject to some people! But I am going to post about our budgets. I’m going to post about our savings and spends. This way anybody reading can see my progress and even places where I need improvement.

If you’d like to keep up to date with how we’re getting on with our savings and budgets, please subscribe for updates.