Six tips to sort out your household finances as cost of living crisis bites

MAKING ends meet is tougher than ever as costs spiral and energy bills rocket.

It’s understandable to feel anxious and worried but put yourself back in control by finding a budgeting technique that works for you.

Put yourself back in control by finding a budgeting technique that works for you

Put yourself back in control by finding a budgeting technique that works for you

This week, Harriet Meyer looks at six different budgeting styles so you can choose the right one for you.


TAKING the time to write your spending down can make you more mindful in your approach to your money.

At the top, write your monthly household income after tax.

Then write down your main outgoings such as mortgage or rent, council tax, gas and electricity, broadband and any debt repayments.

You can then see what’s left to spend each month on other things.

Carry a notepad around with you to write down what you buy and its cost as you go, seeing if you can stick within budget.

Abigail Yearley, from TopCashback, says: “As you write down your outgoings, you’ll start to consider each purchase and whether you really need it a lot more than before. This helps to cut down on impulse buys.”


THIS style of budgeting involves withdrawing money from your bank account each month, and “stuffing” it into envelopes or wallets.

Each will be labelled for particular things, such as groceries, meals out, clothes, and holidays.

You decide on which particular spending pots are best for you.

If you’ve a spending goal in mind, such as a birthday party, you can include that and set cash aside.

Plenty of savvy budgeters swear by this technique but keep in mind that you will miss out on savings interest.

The aim is not to spend any more in a particular category unless you take cash from another envelope.

If you’re not a cash user but reckon this method would suit you, some banking apps make it possible to do something similar by putting your money into “pots”.

3) THE 50-30-20 RULE

THIS simple approach breaks your spending down into needs, wants and savings.

You set aside 50 per cent for all your needs — so your bills.

Then 30 per cent goes on your wants, such as hobbies, dinners out and shopping.

Finally, 20 per cent is for financial goals such as paying off debt or savings.

You can come up with your own ratios based on your spending and situation.

For example, if you’ve stacks of debt it makes sense to put more of your budget towards paying this off and cutting down elsewhere.

This can be a good if using too many budgeting categories feels overwhelming and you want a straightforward plan.


THIS old technique is aimed at getting you to think carefully about your spending.

You can buy English translations of Kakeibo books (pronounced kah-ke-boh) with tips on how this works from financial experts, or make your own using YouTube guides.

The technique is simple: You split your spending into four categories: survival (essential costs) optional (eg. shopping and eating out), culture (eg. cinema and books), and unexpected extras (eg. repairs).

Once you’ve recorded everything you spend, you think about how much you’re spending, what you want to save, and how you can maximise cash flow.


SET aside money for your financial goals as soon as you get paid.

This way, money goes straight into your savings for things such as future holidays, or your retirement, so you don’t have to track expenses and wait until the end of the month to see what you have left over.

For example, you may ideally save ten per cent of your income for retirement, five per cent in an emergency fund and five per cent in a holiday fund.

You spend the other 80 per cent on essentials and enjoying life.

With costs soaring, you can reduce these percentages.

If you’re hitting your savings goals, and not sinking into debt, you’re doing it right.


THESE can seem daunting and complicated, but you can create one that will suit you.

Use Excel on the computer, or one of the downloadable spreadsheets on websites such as

Faith Archer, money blogger at Much More With Less, says: “Typing my outgoings into a spreadsheet makes me much more aware of what I spend.

“I set mine up with pages for normal spending, regular bills and income.

“As a freelancer, the income sheet helps me keep track of whether my invoices have been paid.

“Writing everything down really forces me to think about where my money has gone, rather than glossing over individual purchases in bigger spending pots.”


Ali Duke uses the cash-stuffing technique to budget after seeing it on TikTok

Ali Duke uses the cash-stuffing technique to budget after seeing it on TikTokCredit: Chris Balcombe

PART-TIME supermarket worker Ali Duke uses “cash stuffing” to keep on top of her family’s finances.

The mum of two saw the budgeting technique last year on TikTok.

Each month she looks at what’s left from her salary after paying essential bills by direct debit, withdraws the cash and places it into binders and wallets.

One is for Ali’s everyday spending, with wallets divided into sections such as date night, grandson Luke, who is 18 months old, clothing, hobbies, beauty and health.

The other binder is savings-orientated, with wallets for days out, and events such as Christmas and birthdays, car maintenance and an emergency fund.

She sets herself £5 savings challenges for goals such as Christmas.

She’s also saved £500 into her emergency fund.

Ali, 43, who lives with 39-year-old husband Mitch, a safety inspector, in Poole, Dorset, says: “I’ve paid off debts such as sofa payments, and generally have more money to cope with price increases.”

Best apps to help with budgeting

MONZO: This online bank’s app gives a clear summary of your spending in different categories and rounds up outgoings to the nearest pound to set aside as savings.

You can set spending targets in categories, and a bill tracker flags if your direct debits are higher or lower than usual.

PLUM: This app works out how much you can afford to save based on your spending and shifts this money automatically into a savings pot each week.

Simply connect the free app to your current account.

EMMA: See all your accounts in one place and track spending in 16 categories.

You set your own budgets, work out how you can save and receive regular bill and spending updates.

It’s a great way to get a snapshot of your overall finances and how to manage these best.

MONEY DASHBOARD: You’ll receive spending categories to make budgeting simpler on your personal dashboard, such as essential bills and food.

You can set budgets and see what’s left each month.

The app will also let you know if you’re spending more than you can afford.

SNOOP: Gives you a personal robot to help you budget better and you’ll be notified about where you can make potential savings such as by switching a utility provider.

Download for free and connect to your bank account and credit cards.

You can also set alerts so you don’t overspend.


NURSE Andrena Walters, a single mum of three, uses the Hyperjar app to budget and save toward goals.

She allocates her salary each month to different spending “jars” in the app.

Andrena Walters uses an app to save and carefully control her spending

Andrena Walters uses an app to save and carefully control her spendingCredit: Leon Images

Andrena, 31, of Great Barr, Birmingham, says: “I put £250 a month into one for essential bills, £850 for rent into another, and have separate jars for each of my three kids, as well as one for specific savings.”

She tries to save £200 a month, although it’s a struggle now, because the cost of everything has soared.

The app has been particularly useful after Andrena struggled to open a standard bank account because of a poor credit rating.

She says: “I read about it online, and found it easy to use.

“You have to move your money into the jars manually so it makes you really think about what you’re spending.”

Her saving goals include a new car and a holiday.

She earns a return of 4.8 per cent, and adds: “It has been a fantastic to budget.”