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How do I set myself weekly or monthly budgets?

hands at desk with notebook and calculator
hands at desk with notebook and calculator

Does it ever feel like you have more money going out that coming in? No matter what your income is, it’s a good idea to have a budget so you know exactly what you need to pay and when. Whether you’ve never set up a budget before or reviewing yours to see where you can save a bit more we have some hints and tips below that may help.

Should I use a weekly or monthly budget?

The first thing to do is decide whether you’re setting up a weekly or monthly budget because it’ll decide all the numbers you use. It’s easiest to use when you get paid; so a weekly plan if it’s once a week or a monthly plan if it’s once per month.

If you are using a weekly budget but have some bills you only pay monthly like your rent or you’re using a monthly budget and shop weekly, you’ll need to grab a calculator and use our helpful calculations below.

How to change monthly spending and income to weekly

Monthly amount x 12 (to get the full year amount) ÷ 52 (weeks). If you earn £1,000 a month, the calculation would be: £1,000 x12 ÷ 52

How to change weekly spending and income to monthly

Weekly amount x 52 ÷ 12. For example, if you earn £200 a week, the calculation would be:
£200 x 52 ÷ 12

Work out your income

To start your budget you first need to know how much money you have coming in. List all the types of income you have and work it out over the right period of time for the type of budget you’re putting together. Don’t forget to consider all your kinds of regular income:

Wages or salary from work
• Benefit payments
• Any private sales (eBay, Gumtree, etc.) or other income. Make sure it’s regular money – you can’t count on occasional cash to be there.
• Any child maintenance payments coming in

Work out your outgoings

Now it’s time to get to grips with everything that’s coming out of your account. Put all the big things in like rent, regular small payments such as any classes or sports you do and, if you like, estimate how much goes on stuff that changes in total cost every week, like the food shopping and fuel for the car.

Here are the main kinds of costs you might want to think about. Remember to use a calculation if you’re wanting to put a weekly cost into your monthly budget, or a monthly cost into your weekly plan.

• Rent or mortgage
• Electricity and/or gas
• Water
• Council tax
• TV Licence
• Home and/or contents insurance
• Digital TV (Sky, Virgin, BT TV, etc.)
• Internet video on demand (Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc.)
• Landline phone
• Mobile phone
• Broadband
• Food shopping
• Fuel
• Car tax
• Car insurance
• Train/bus tickets
• Lunch money
• Gym membership
• Birthday/Christmas savings
• Instalment payments (if you’re paying off a car, sofa, fridge or similar bit by bit every month)
• Loan repayments

Add everything up. That’s your total expenditure.

What does it work out as?

The last part is the easiest. Take your total income either for the week or month and take away your total costs for that same period.

What’s the result? Hopefully, you’ve got something left over. If you do, that’s your allowance for that period of time. You can safely spend it on extra things while knowing all your expenses are taken care of.

It’s also worth considering keeping a little of that money aside in case you need it for an unexpected expense in the future.

For example, if you had £50 left over per week, you could save £10 and still have £40 to spend on things like the cinema, a meal out or a new outfit and still know there should be enough in your account to pay for everything you need to pay for, not just what you want to buy.

If it looks like you’re spending more than what you’ve got coming in and if your calculator is showing a minus sign (e.g. -15.50), we’ve got some helpful advice at the ready.

If you want a higher allowance, you can use our guides to:

Save money on your food shop
Save money on your electricity and gas bills
Save money on your travel costs
• Alternative ways to Increase your income
Spend less on the high street
Use your phone to pull back on your spending

If you’d like free, independent financial advice, contact the Money Advice Service, debt charity Step Change, or the National Debtline.

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