We all have different expenses and priorities but I will try to cover them all using some broad categories. Not all categories apply to everyone and please add any of your own. Please feel free to let me know what I have omitted.
The necessities are really shelter, nourishment and clothing. There are lots of other things that we see as essential in Western cultures but if we strip it all back these are the bare necessities so we will start with them first.
Mortgage repayments or rent
Transport costs – car and/or public transport
Utilities – water, electricity, gas
Communications – telephone, internet
Health – including health insurance
Other insurances – house, car, life
The first thing you need to do is to know how much you are spending in each of these categories at the moment. Some, like rent or mortgage payments will be easy as it is a set amount. Decide on a timeframe such as weekly, fortnightly or monthly and then work out how much you are spending in each category for the specific timeframe. I would recommend weekly or fortnightly, however, monthly is an option if you are paid or receive benefits as your major income source on a monthly basis.
Now, you need to add up what you are spending on the essentials and what income you have. Is you income enough to cover your essentials? If not, you will need to work out how you can cover the shortfall. Increase income? Reduce costs? Even if you have calculated that you have enough income to cover the essentials, now is not the time to be feeling smug. Remember, there is no allowance here for gifts, treats, outings, birthdays, Christmas, haircuts, coffee, snacks or eating out. If you think this sounds extreme, it is, but it can be done.
Read this link from Frugal Queen’s blog. http://www.frugalqueen.co.uk/p/our-story.html I began reading this blog about 3 years ago and it is absolutely inspirational. Froogs pulls no punches about what has to be done to improve your financial situation but she leads by example and we would all do well to follow her lead. Once you have read the previous link, I would strongly suggest that you take the time and read the blog from the very beginning. You will not do it all in one sitting but you will start to see that by taking some fairly drastic action you will see the light at the end of the tunnel. Some things will be relevant and others will not but the message is clear – take responsibility for your own financial position and do something about it now! Cut your spending to the bone. There is no use mincing around the edges and wailing that you can’t do it. You can and you must.
Tomorrow I will cover what I refer to as ‘Emergency Action’. These are things that you can do right here and now that will make an immediate difference. You will not necessarily be able to continue such drastic measures long-term but it will help to kickstart your journey to balance the budget.