The pursuit of...Budgeting! My Top 5 Tips.

Thinking........"shoes or food?....."

Budgeting....the bane of my life! 
I have tried and tried to be good with money but I must admit, I can be very frivolous with it at times.
When I brought my house a few years ago, I realised that it was time for me to get serious with my spending habits - no longer was it feasible to blow my salary on a designer handbag when I had a mortgage and bills to pay!....there are ways around this....Bicester Village anyone?!!

So, I've put together a few tips that have worked for me, to share with you.

Receipts, receipts and more receipts.... 

Tip 1: Write all your expenses down.

I know it sounds boring, but taking the time out, maybe once a month, to write down all your outgoings will give you an idea of what disposable income (extra money, in other words) you have left at the end of every month.
It's a good idea to have any regular direct debits or standing orders come out as soon as you have been paid - that way you don't have to worry about getting caught short later in the month.

Set time out to write down your expenses

Tip 2: Use cash instead of your debit or credit cards.

Once I've worked out my disposable income, I take out a portion of this extra money and use the cash rather than my debit card.  It means I can keep track of what I'm spending without just whipping out my card all the time which is so easy to overspend with.
Try not to use your credit card if you are able to for grocery shopping or petrol etc. If you don't pay off your balance each month, it means that you will end up spending far more for those purchases in the long term once interest is added on.  Instead use credit cards if you have to for big purchases only.

Tip 3: Use those loyalty cards.

Loyalty or Reward cards can be really handy as they can provide you with lots of  special offers.  I have a Boot's Advantage Card, Tesco Clubcard and Sainsbury's Nectar Card.
Boot's and Sainsbury's are particularly good as you can rack up credit to spend within their stores. 
Sainsbury's Nectar card are also aligned with Homebase and whilst I was home renovating I surprisingly found out that I had reached £20 on my card which I immediately used to take off my shopping! - brilliant!
Tesco and Boot's also send out vouchers every now and then to get money off products that they recognise that you buy regularly....very useful.

Tip 4: Find out what benefits your bank account offers.

I recently found out that with my bank account* I can receive a complimentary TasteCard (below).
It gives you 50% or 2 for 1 discounts on thousands of UK restaurants.  I recently used it and all I had to do was search by area to find out which local restaurants participated.
I also get free European travel insurance which is really handy.
I used to get free LoveFilm membership and free HMV music downloads too so it's really worth finding out what your bank offers in conjunction with your account.
* I am with Natwest bank.

The brilliant tastecard....great food at half the price!

Tip 5: Shop smart

I have two tips in one for you here.  
The first is fresh flowers.  I love having fresh flowers in the house, but all too often they start wilting and dying before I can really appreciate them.
I've found out through trial and error, that for me, the best long lasting cut flowers are carnations.
Yes, they might not be the flowers that you would want a lover to bring home for you (ever since Charlotte scorned them in Sex and The City they have been a no-no!)...but if you're buying them for your home, sprayed carnations can last for nearly two weeks and do make such a lovely focal piece.  I brought a bouquet from my local supermarket for £2 that was big enough to split between two vases - even more of a bargain!

Carnations have earned the unfortunate tag as 'supermarket flowers' or 'petrol station flower bucket'  but they are still pretty and are making a comeback!

The second one is to buy magazine subscriptions.  If you are someone who without fail, buys there favourite monthly magazine each month.  Think about taking a half yearly or yearly subscription where you can get quite a considerable discount and often some sort of free gift for your custom.
It makes sense to do so and that way you get your magazine delivered straight to your door too...what more could you ask for?!

I love interior design magazines!

I don't claim to be a financial expert in any way, shape or form!...but I do hope these little money saving tips may help.
Please share any that you may have of your own in the comments.

Love, Ivy George x 

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