If you’ve resolved to take back control of your finances, the first step you need to take is to put together an accurate income and expenditure budget.
Around a quarter of the UK population have never put a budget together, and this often means they miss things off a budget that should always be included.
Lots of people tell you to budget but there aren’t that many detailed guides as to what your budget should include.
It may seem obvious that priority bills need to be included, along with things like your mortgage, rent and secured loans, utility bills and council tax; and of course essentials like food. But what other things can be and should be included on a budget?
Here are ten expenses that should be included in personal financial budget if you have or need them. For more details on working out a budget, read our budgeting article.
1. Private pensions
Not all creditors will be happy with this but if you don’t have a work pension and are at an age when you should be making some provision for retirement a private pension contribution could find a place on your budget. The amount paid into the pension should be reasonable.
2. Church/charity contributions
Again the amounts must be realistic but if you have a cause which is close to your heart and you do make a regular contribution to a church or charity this can be included in your budget. If your creditors are not happy with this they can request that you stop paying it.
3. School trips and school activity
If you have children you will have accounted for the necessary expenditure in your budget, but what about things that don’t come up every month, such as school trips? School trips are often a vital part of a child’s education and with the average debt management plan taking around five years you should account for the cost of at least a couple of these trips a year.
4. Children’s pocket money
You’ve covered children’s food, clothes and school dinners, as well as travel and school uniforms. Children need a little spending money also. As long as the amounts are manageable your creditors should have no issue seeing ‘kids spending money’ on your budget.
5. Sports, hobbies and entertainment
If you follow a local team, or enjoy swimming or the occasional trip to the cinema this should be included in your budget. We’re not saying you’ll be able to buy a season ticket to Arsenal but you can have some rest and relaxation, within agreeable limits.
As someone who wears glasses and needs regular eye tests I know that if I don’t replace my specs regularly I can get headaches. Dental costs are also vital for general health. People usually see these costs as ‘out of the blue’ but in a good budget they should be accounted for and the cost spread over the year.
7. Medicines and prescriptions
If you’re on regular medication this should be accounted for in your budget. If you require medication all year round you might also want to consider a pre-payment certificate to save you money. This would all need to be included in your expenditure.
8. Laundry and dry cleaning
Need suits for work? Or wear a uniform that can only be dry cleaned? This can be expensive over the course of 12 months. Your budget would need to reflect this or you’ll find yourself taking the money from other areas.
If you’re a man you might just go for a grade two every month but if you’re a woman a haircut can be essential. Some people even need regular haircuts as part of their job (especially if they’re facing the general public). The accurate cost needs to be represented in your budget. Avoid Vidal Sassoon hair salon prices though.
It’s a bad habit but your creditors are realistic enough to know that you just can’t stop. If you smoke your creditors will usually allow a small amount of money in your budget for tobacco. Usually this would cover cost of smoking rolling tobacco only, so you might be expected to cut back that way. We always encourage clients to reduce the amount they smoke as this is better for your health in the long run.
If you’ve never put a budget together read our article A Beginner’s Guide to Budgeting. If you’re struggling with problem debt you should try our online debt help service Debt Remedy. It’ll help you to put together a realistic budget and will offer the best debt solution available to you.