How to Budget When You Don’t Earn a Steady Income

Whether you’re a freelancer, have a casual job, or are a student, not earning a steady income can prove challenging when it comes to getting your finances in shape. A successful budget normally depends on a steady income and good planning. So, how can you budget when you don’t earn a steady income?

Know what your biggest spends are

When it comes to creating a budget, you need to know what your biggest outgoings are. If you earn a steady income, you can allocate a specific amount for each of these. When you don’t earn a steady income, you need to consider how much you’ll need to cover these costs. The first thing you need to contemplate is your groceries. Consider the lowest cost of your supermarket spends – this includes all the basics you’ll need for the month ahead. Don’t take into account any other food items like coffee shop spends or takeaways. Try to be realistic about the amount you’re going to be spending – if you’re not sure of how much you’ll need, try to track your spending for a few weeks.

You also need to factor in any household bills and other outgoing payments. Consider the minimum payments for your rent, mortgage, phone and any credit cards. If you work from home, you’ll need to add internet bills and electricity on top.

Finally, consider any other costs. This may include transport (whether you travel on public transport or own a car, you’ll need to come up with a minimal amount for this), medical costs, such as prescriptions, and any other outgoings that may arise- it may be worth delegating an amount for surprise outgoings.

Know what your goal income is

Now you’ve established a budget, you can work out how much you need to earn for the month to cover your outgoings. You’ve probably realised that budgeting when you don’t earn a steady income works in reverse to budgeting on steady pay. This method makes it much easier to determine your finances and ensure you have enough money for your overheads. While it can be challenging to ensure you’re earning enough money per month, its advisable to put any spare monthly income into a savings account. That way, if you don’t earn enough to cover your budget, you’ll have a back-up plan to assist you.

Open separate bank accounts

To keep your finances organised, it’s best to open separate bank accounts. One account will cover your savings, while your other account will cover outgoings for bills, groceries and other spends. Finally, open a business account for your incomings. From this account, you can make two transfers per month – one to cover your outgoings and one for your savings account. If you wanted to separate your savings into lifelong savings and a back-up fund, you could always set up two savings accounts – an ISA or high interest savings account can give you a better deal on long-term savings.

5 Easy Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Today

A great credit score can make life a whole lot easier, especially if you’re looking to rent, buy a property or make another significant purchase. If your credit rating isn’t looking healthy, don’t despair! There are plenty of ways to improve your credit score and here are 5 ways in which you can do so today!

Bulk up your profile

Those with little to no credit history may find they have a tough time applying for credit. Even if you’ve had credit in the past, increasing your credit history will have a better impact on your score. Before you go applying for every type of credit possible, be aware that the best ways to boost your score include a credit card or phone contract. Only apply for these if you have no to little credit history, otherwise its best to focus on paying off your outstanding debts first. If you are applying for credit, don’t apply to several lenders in one go as this can have a negative impact on your credit rating. Do your research first to find the best rate and your chances of acceptance.

Extend your credit limit

One way to boost your credit score today is to ask to extend your credit limit. This is an effective option if you can’t financially afford to pay off all your debts. For example, if your current credit card balance is £1000 and you ask to extend your credit to £2000, you’re cutting your credit use in half. Just ensure that you don’t put anymore credit on your card.

Don’t miss another payment

Make sure you don’t miss another payment by organising your finances. Write down your income every month and expenditures, before considering how much you can realistically afford to pay off your debts. Instead of making one monthly payment, try making two as your credit report is updated every month, so two payments will bring your credit down. Furthermore, if you need to make a big purchase on credit, it won’t affect your score as much.

Cancel unused store or credit cards

Ensure you cancel unused store or credit cards as these have an impact on your overall credit score. While different lenders look for varying aspects, having unused credit can be a turn-off. There can also be a greater risk of fraud as you’re unlikely to check these accounts.

Negotiate your balance

If you’re in a position to settle some outstanding debt, negotiating your balance with your lender can be an effective method of improving your credit score. Some lenders are happy to settle debts at a reduced cost if you pay it off in one go. If you’re happy to negotiate your outstanding debt and receive an offer over the telephone to reduce the amount you pay off, ensure you ask for it to be sent to you in writing as confirmation. Alternatively, if you’re struggling to pay your debts, ask if a payment plan can be set up so you can meet the minimum payment each month.

How to Protect Your Credit Score as a New Parent

Having a baby is a wonderful experience but it’s also very costly. If you’re a new parent, getting your finances in order may not be your top priority, however, it’s important to consider the impact a new baby will have on your finances. Purchasing baby clothes, nappies and bottles can all mount up and before you know it, your credit score has been dented. Protect your credit score as a new parent by following these steps.

Set up direct debits

Life is going to be hectic in the first few months with a newborn. Juggling visitors, appointments and other things alongside a lack of sleep means payments may be missed. Instead of trying to think ahead when making payments, set up a direct debit for each lender to make your payments on time and keep your credit score intact. You’ll have one less thing to worry about and your credit score won’t suffer in the process.

Set a budget

Forget about your old budget. Having a new baby can mean your outgoings go way beyond what you initially intended. While a newborn is expensive, purchasing baby supplies and arranging childcare doesn’t need to be beyond your means. Once your baby has arrived, sit down and create a realistic budget, taking into account what you need to buy each week, as well as your incoming funds and other outgoings.

Only apply for new credit if you need it

While it can be tempting to apply for credit to cover big purchases like a cot and pram, only apply for new credit if you really need it. Unused credit can affect your credit score negatively, while applying for too much credit at once can also have a negative impact. Write a list of all purchases you require and set a strict budget for each one – you’ll know how much credit (if any) you’ll require. If you’re searching for new credit, try looking for one with low interest – some lenders offer zero percent interest on new purchases for a limited amount of time.

Check your accounts

Check your accounts regularly to ensure that no unconfirmed purchases are being put on your credit or store cards. Fraud can occur at any time and while you’re undoubtedly busy with a new baby, spending five or ten minutes checking your accounts every month can be worthwhile.

Don’t put small purchases on credit

Small purchases like a few groceries at the local supermarket may not seem like much but they can add up over time. Instead of using a credit card for goods like food and toiletries, ensure you only use cash or your debit card – this will prevent your credit card bills soaring as well as protecting your credit score.

Make additional payments

If you’re in a position to make additional payments, reducing the amount of credit you own will protect your credit score. Making an extra payment per month will help to significantly reduce your debt and put you in good stead for future purchases, such as buying a house or car.

How to Feed Your Family on A Limited Budget

If you’re on a strict budget, buying food for all the family can be a challenge, especially if you need to feed the family for an entire week. However, despite differing tastes and limited funds, sometimes thinking outside of the box can ensure you don’t go hungry. Here are some effective ways of feeding your family on a limited budget.

Coupons

Living on a low budget doesn’t mean you can’t indulge. For example, collecting coupons from newspapers, magazines and online gives you endless ways to stretch your budget. You could also get friends and family to collect these for you too. This way, you can have all of your favourite food items at a fraction of the cost! Another way to get coupons and even free food is to contact your favourite brands. For instance, if you and your family love a top branded pasta sauce, try emailing that brand and stating that you love their products and wondered if they had any free samples or coupons of new products that you could try, and recommend to you friends and family. They may say no, however, they may offer you money off coupons as a thank you for taking time out of your schedule to complement them.

Mystery shopping

Becoming a mystery shopper at food outlets or grocery stores allows you to eat for free while making money. You can find mystery shopping companies by googling them and usually it’s fairly straightforward to sign up. Generally, mystery shopping involves agreeing to spend a certain amount instore and giving feedback on customer service. You get reimbursed for your purchase and are normally given a fee on top. It’s a great way to save money and eat out for free!

Buy food staples

Being in a family environment can be challenging, especially when it comes to food, which is why you should aim to get the most out of the money spent in your weekly shop. The best way to ensure you can stretch those meals out for a week is to buy raw food, vegetables, raw meat etc. This way, you can make multiple meals for a fraction of the cost. Just ensure that you plan your meals in advance and have food containers to store any leftovers in your fridge or freezer.

Bargain buys

Always keep an eye out for food bargains. Most supermarkets have clearance shelves offering short dated items at discounted prices. You’ll also find many items on buy one get one free or 3 for 2 offers. Some stores promote bargain items at the front of the shop, around the tills. However, this is normally done to generate spur of the moment sales, so make sure you really need or want the item before purchasing. Another way to grab a bargain is to buy at pound stores or discount shops – just make sure you check the size or volume of the item you’re buying to ensure you’re getting a great deal!

9 Ways to Treat Yourself Without Spending Money

Whether you’re on a fixed budget or you’re at that point in the month when your purse strings are tight, not having a bulging bank account doesn’t mean you need to go without. In fact, there are plenty of ways to treat yourself without having to spend a penny. Are you wondering how? Take a look at the following ways to give yourself a little pick-me-up without splashing the cash.

Exercise

Don’t have enough money for the gym? No problem! Going for a jog or learning a new workout routine can be a great way to get in shape without spending any money. YouTube has an array of free workouts you can do in your home and many of these are from professional trainers so you know you’re getting effective exercise that will whip you into shape.

Go for a stroll

Going for a leisurely walk is a great way to relax and burn off a few calories. What’s even better is that it’s completely free to do!

Read a good book

Reading can be a highly relaxing pastime, especially if you’re looking for a little quality ‘me time’. If you don’t have any good books at home, join your local library. You can also find many free digital books online to download.

Have a Netflix and chill night

Why not watch some of your favourite movies and tv shows on Netflix and have a chilled evening. If you don’t have Netflix, you can sign up for a free 30-day trial. Amazon Prime also offer a free trial too.

Visit a museum

Day trips don’t have to cost money. Did you know that there are many free galleries and museums open across the UK? Why not take some time out of your busy schedule to unwind and learn a little more about the arts.

Take a warm bath

Relax after a long day with a warm bath, candles and soothing music. You may also want to pamper yourself with a face mask, body treatment or whatever you have in your beauty cabinet.

Whip up a treat

You may already have a few ingredients in your kitchen cupboards. A quick google or Pinterest search will bring up thousands of delicious recipes. You could make something you’ve never cooked before or create an old favourite. The choice is yours.

Get creative

If you’re feeling creative, you could use your skills to make something from scratch or upcycle an old piece of furniture. All you really need is some paint, fabric and a few tools. If you don’t have any equipment at hand, see if your family, friends or neighbours can lend a few items.

Volunteer

While volunteering may not seem like a way to treat yourself, it can actually make you feel great! Giving back to the community is a great way to spread joy, whether you’re helping people or animals. Look online or in your local newspapers to see what opportunities are available in your local area.