Welcome to 2019!

A common New Year’s resolution is to save money. This means budgeting. You know it’s important. It’s what you need to do if you want to get on top of everyday finances and make life a little bit easier.

Yet how many of us find a way to not set a budget? Do any of the following excuses seem familiar to you? If so, here’s some tips for the New Year.

Budgeting takes too much effort!

This excuse might’ve been valid back in the day when you had to manually gather bank account data, import them into a spreadsheet, categorise every transaction, and set up charts and tables.

Not anymore. There are numerous personal money management solutions on the UK market these days. The better ones integrate with banks to automate the data preparation work and in some cases provide real-time financial insights on saving and spending behaviour.

An example of such a solution (and which is free to use) is Money Dashboard.

I don’t like what a budget would tell me!

We get this. It can be frustrating – even frightening – when the only insight appears to be “I’m in the red no matter what.”

But setting a budget can help. At the very least, by going through the thinking process you’re able to distinguish between a need and a want. This is important as it allows you to prioritise your expenses and identify where you could possibly cut back.

I don’t earn enough to budget!

This is a rationalisation for not making changes to your financial behavior. Don’t fall for this!

Start by documenting your spend. You’ll learn not just where you can make a change, but how big a change it needs to be.

If by the end of the month you’re short only a little, let’s say under £100, then we’re talking minor change. Cutting back on an expense (especially a want) or adding an extra shift could balance the books. If you’re short closer to £1000 then – take a big breath – we’re talking major change like reviewing job and housing options.

Feeling low or overwhelmed?

Help is available! If you know that feeling low or overwhelmed affects how you manage money, then you’re demonstrating a high degree of self-awareness.

Don’t be afraid of reaching out to organisations like Money Advice Service, National Debt Line, Step Change Debt Charity or Citizens Advice Bureau. They provide free, impartial and confidential advice. They can be very useful if a large part of your expenses is tied up with servicing debt (such as payments on credit cards, overdrafts, payday loans, personal loans and mortgages).