This year I've really had to stick to a very tight budget, gone are the days of blowing all my pay cheques on clothes like I did when I was 17. Being in my first year of self employment I really don't earn a huge amount of money every month and even that money is never 100% guaranteed and that is one of the risks you take with freelancing. So I've really had to take a good hard look at my spending and set myself a budget and I have to stick to that and here is what I've learnt from it:
Prioritise: Every single month I sit down with my finances and I look exactly what I've been buying and where I can cut costs. When living on a limited budget you really have to weigh up of what you need and what you want and trips to Starbucks are definitely not a necessity.
Record: Since I got my first job when I was 16 my dad always taught me to write down what I was buying and what I had coming in and I've carried it on ever since. By writing it all down it makes your expenditure look a lot more real and in case anything my bank card got stolen or something I know exactly what I've spent on it.
Bills come first: Most of my standing orders and direct debits come out in the space of a couple of weeks and I always like to make sure all of them have left my account so that the money I then have left over I can then plan what to do with it. I also make sure I've got at least one or two months of bills in my account at all times because it's not wise to get caught short because you just had to buy a new foundation and couldn't wait.
Save: By far this has been my biggest lesson, I used to spend and spend till there was nothing left in my account and I've learnt it's not sensible to do that. I try my best to make sure that I have a set amount of money in my account at all times, it's my in case of an emergency fund. I've really started to see the benefits of saving money and just much better it feels to do so.
Stop wasting money: I used to be the queen of buying things I really didn't need, I've spoken before about the emotional relationship I had with shopping and how dangerous it got. Nowadays my spending is completely under control, yes I do still buy things but I never buy something that I don't have a use for or just for the sake of buying. Again by writing everything down I can really get a good grip of where my money is going.
Keep expenses down: This is something that is personal to all of us but to me I have to keep my expenses to a real minimum, especially business ones as there is no guaranteed of getting them covered. It can be really small things like not buying lunch out that day that make all the difference in the state of your finances.
Have you got any tips for living on a budget?