In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and against the backdrop of a cost-of-living crisis, managing our finances is even more paramount. Energy, food, and fuel prices have soared, while interest rate rises have increased mortgage costs. Keeping a close eye on incomings and outgoings is more important than ever to ensure that bills are covered without drifting into an overdraft or relying on credit cards.
With all the pressure of paying for a mortgage or rent, continuing to pay for heating, water, and in some cases supporting dependents, it can feel a little overwhelming. However, careful budgeting can provide a clear plan to follow, thereby avoiding debt.
As much as these financial considerations need to be managed meticulously, it is also essential to allow ourselves appropriate leisure time. Our fast-paced, hectic lives leave us little time to relax, but looking after our mental health is just as important as keeping on top of the finances.
Which Expenditures Are Essential?
When planning a budget, the first task should always be to detail the expenditures which are non-negotiable, such as a mortgage or rent, water, heating, and fuel bills. The majority of these cannot be reduced, although it may be possible to switch to cheaper brands for the food shop or consider using public transport to cut down on the costs of running a car.
Using appliances in more energy-efficient ways can also help to cut costs. Running washing machines and dishwashers on eco settings or on colder temperatures can make significant savings on your bills.
Detailing out all essential expenditures in black and white makes it clear how much you have left at the end of the month. It is important to be conservative; not every month will look exactly the same, with unexpected costs from home repairs to birthdays, so it’s crucial that there is enough space in your budget to accommodate these expenses.
If your incomings are not stretching far enough to cover your outgoings each month, it may be time to consider making some changes. Mobile phone providers may be able to offer better deals, or perhaps there is something that can be removed from your TV package.
It can be confronting, but it’s important, to be honest about everything you spend money on. A shop-bought coffee each day may seem like a small outlay, but when they’re added up at the end of each week you could find that you’re spending almost £20 a week on coffee. It would be cheaper to purchase an insulated travel mug and brew a coffee before leaving the house.
Cutting Costs Can be Very Helpful – but Don’t Sacrifice Leisure Time
In today’s society, we are encouraged to treat our mental health with the same care and consideration that we give our physical health. Cutting costs to ease the pressure of soaring prices is key; however, a tricky financial outlook does not mean that leisure activities and connecting with others should be sacrificed.
There are ways to ensure that life is still for living without spending a fortune.
Switch a trip to a bar or restaurant to a night in with friends
A meal out can be expensive. Ultimately, however, the enjoyment of a night out comes from the company. Picking up a bottle or two of wine at the supermarket will work out much cheaper than meeting friends at a bar, especially when taxi rides and elevated prices of alcohol are factored in.
Fitness routines can be altered
A gym membership is a monthly expense that may not be possible to maintain in the current climate. However, there are ways around this. If working out on a regular basis is of great importance to both your physical and mental health, it needn’t take place in a gym. Home workouts are more popular than ever, with a great variety on offer online, both paid-for and free.
Gaming can be a cost-effective stress reliever
With a huge variety of gaming platforms available online, taking some time to do a little gaming at the end of a busy day can help people to unwind. Some of the most popular sites allow people to play for free or sign up for promotions that afford users free spins. Online casinos also feature tutorials, such as Practice Play mode, where users can learn how to play craps through mini-games for free. This is a great way to enjoy the experience and brush up on your craps skills – all while safeguarding your funds.
Lose yourself in a good book or a film
It isn’t necessary to order books online to enjoy a good novel. Most large towns have a well-stocked library to take advantage of, which also means that you won’t have piles of books lying around the house that are unlikely to be read again. It’s also worth checking out local charity shops, which often have a decent stock of books to peruse.
If eBooks suit you, there are numerous sites that offer free and sometimes unlimited content.
Keeping on top of personal finances is imperative to avoid running up debts, but it should not be done to the detriment of social life and relaxation. Connecting with friends and family, or finding ways to relax at the end of the working day, should not be forfeited for the sake of saving money. Above all, it’s very important to find a balance.