Gather together all your paperwork
If you've been sensible, all of your paperwork will be neatly filed away in alphabetical/chronological order. But we’re betting it’s not. In fact, we’re betting your paperwork is lying in a disorganised pile somewhere.
Unfortunately, the first step of budgeting is to get all of this together - that includes all of your bank statements, credit card statements, pay cheques, utility bills etc. It's hardly the most exciting of tasks, but you'll feel a great sense of relief once it's done!
Set up a spending diary
It can be very easy to lose track of what we're spending where. So to help you understand your spending habits, it's worth setting up a spending diary - in other words, a list of what you spend where.
You can do this using the free MoneyTrack tool at lovemoney.com. If you register your accounts, every time you make a purchase – no matter which bank account or credit card you use – the tool will record it for you, and then allow you to categorise all your transactions so you know exactly what you're spending your money on every month.
Alternatively, every time you take out your wallet to make a purchase, make a record of it. Don't leave anything out, no matter how small - you'll be surprised how the little things add up! It's worth doing this for an entire month to help you get a detailed picture.
Make a claim
If you’re on a shoestring budget, don’t be too proud to claim what you’re entitled to.
The Turn2Us website can help you track down the relevant benefits and Tax Credits.