If you are spending more than you earn it is time for you to find the way to balance your budget. Firstly, though I know that many of you find it hard and painful to work out where and how to cut back on spending, I also know that it makes you miserable when you see your account in the red. Balancing spending is one of the best ways to help you feel happy and in control – it is a great way to show that you love yourself and that you are looking after yourself. Added bonus – it is not rocket science! When you can put your head on the pillow comfortable that you know your numbers and have a plan – you are on the way to financial freedom.

Here are a few tips on where to start:

Budget

It is essential to have some form of budget for your family finances. Every business has one, so why do we think we cope without one for family finances, which are equally important? Making a budget can seem a daunting task for so many, but really, once it is done – it is done! You will have a dynamic list that can be tweaked as and when necessary. Having a budget and knowing your numbers is empowering and feels great. A budget makes it possible to stay in control of your cash and allows you to make goals for the future.

Make it simple. Jot down all outgoings – just the headings – gas and electricity to car insurance and fuel costs. If you are an excel user – get a spreadsheet going. If you would like me to send you a free budget template – let me know. Get a really big list – so that it covers all that your well earned money is spent on. Then put a figure against each – no need for it to be exact for now – but overestimate rather than underestimate.

Next, do the same with income. Salary, interest from savings, child benefit etc.

If outgoings are more than income, you now have the tools to work out how to balance the figures….

Start saving on essentials

Work out which items are not needed – subscriptions for magazines that are not read etc – and CANCEL them. De-clutter old direct debits and standing orders.

Cut your energy costs

– join the Energy Club courtesy of Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis. Tap in the details of your current tariff and it will tell you where to make savings and even earn cashback. It is brilliant and again – once you have done it once, it remembers your current deal and emails you when a better one is available.

Don’t just accept renewal quotes

A little bit of fighting for the best price can save £100’s. Use comparison sites like comparethemarket.com, uswitch.com, gocompare.com to get a better price. Again, once you have put your details in and saved them, it is much easier to quickly update next year and bingo – double whammy – time and money saved this time!

Cut Credit Card costs

Credit card debts are likely to be a drain on your budget as the costs are usually high. Paying the minimum payment each month is not really going to make a great dent in the debt so pay off as much as you can each month and have it a higher priority than savings.

Have a look at transferring your debt to a cheaper card. There are many 0% balance transfer cards available now. This can save you £100’s in interest and help you to pay back the debt much more quickly. Martin Lewis does it again in my opinion – have a look at his Balance Transfer Eligibility Calculator. This finds your % chance of getting top balance transfer cards without having to actually apply for them. This is good as applying for a card usually leaves a hard search on your credit file and can hurt your future credit worthiness.

Can you make any extra cash?

No magic wands – spending too much? – cut back. Not earning enough? – try to earn more!

If you have any savings, are they getting the best interest? If you have money in your current account, is that account paying you interest and cashback?

Are you using a reward points card in the supermarket? Used consistently, they can pay for days out, money off flights or simply cutting the cost of your shopping.

Use sites like Quidco and TopCashback when making online purchases. You can save £100’s per year using them correctly. The amounts range from pennies for retail items to more than £100 for larger spends – eg Mobile contracts and insurance policies.

Sell stuff you don’t need – do a boot fair or put stuff on Ebay or Gumtree. There are also lots of free sites on Facebook.

Can you rent out a room in your house? Can you rent out a parking space? – or garage?

Could you consider freelance work if your employment contract allows it?

Small and simple changes, when all added together can have a big impact on your budget. Why not try and give some of them a go? Yes, they are time consuming at first but focusing on your finances for a relatively small amount of time can change your life. It has changed mine.

If you would like me to hold your hand and guide your through to financial freedom, then please contact me. I will give you all the tools you need to clean out and streamline your finances. I am certain that my fee will be smaller than your initial saving, – and you will be able to continue to be in control for the rest of your life. How much is that worth to you?