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What is a Budget


A budget is a financial plan that shows where your money is coming from, how much is there and where it's all going. It is a plan for saving, spending and borrowing. It allows you to see your income against your expenses so you can make informed financial decisions.

Creating a budget answers 2 key questions:

1. Do I have more money going out than coming in?

2. What can I afford to spend?


Why should I make a budget?
The main reason to create a budget is to keep your finances under control by tracking how much money you're spending and where it goes.

By creating a budget, you will gain a new perspective on your finances, potentially prevent yourself from making bad financial decisions, and in turn, start saving more money.

If you don't have a solid understanding of your personal financial situation, you're liable to be spending too much money in general. This might lead to buying things which you can not afford. Keeping track of what you are spending your money on can help you to prioritise the essentials.

Cardiff Money Advice team can help you to create a budget; you can drop into the Hub which is located on the second floor of Central Library Hub.
What are the advantages of sticking to a budget?
Worrying about making regular payments such as debt repayment or utilities and rent can have a negative effect on your mental and physical well being. By sticking to a budget you can relieve some of the stress associated with money management. Budgeting can control your monthly flow of money and show areas where spending can be reduced enabling you to repay debts or save money more effectively.

Instead of spending impulsively, money will be valued as a tool to fulfil needs. It is suggested that children raised under a budget will learn the value of money because they are involved in some of the decisions and can identify clearly what the budget allows.

A budget will help you to keep your spending under control so that you don't have to rely on borrowing to cover your day to day expenses.

The goal of a budget is to create an outline for your money that puts you in control, so that your money doesn't control you.

Cardiff Money Advice team can help you to create a budget; you can drop into the Hub which is located on the second floor of Central Library Hub.
Will a budget work for me?
A budget will work as long as you stick to it. If you find yourself falling short of your goals you can use your budget to identify the source of waste and take corrective action. Efforts to stay within the budget will build new spending habits over time, making money available for the most important expenses.
How to make a budget - Some tips

  • Use weekly or monthly amounts - don't mix them up!
  • Make sure amounts are realistic
  • Make a rough copy first
  • Don't forget one-off or annual expenditure
  • If there are any loan repayments, include these
  • Include an amount for emergencies and things like Christmas and Birthdays
  • Re-do a budget when things change, for example; if you change your job or end work, if you finish paying a fine or debt, or if you take out a loan

Identify areas of improvement
Take a look at the Income Maximisation page for more ideas.

Your budget can help you to identify the areas in which you over spend.
Once your budget has identified an area of over spending, you can look at ways to reduce this outgoing.

If you are struggling with your gas, electricity or water bills have a look at the Fuel Poverty page for some ideas.

Alternatively, read the Extra Help section below.

Cardiff Money Advice team can help you to create a budget; you can drop into the Hub which is located on the second floor of Central Library Hub.
What is disposable income?
Disposable income is the amount of money that is left after all expenses have been paid. This money can be used for saving, luxuries or allocated to reducing existing debts further.
Need help sticking to your budget?
One trick that may help you to keep your daily spending under control and within your budget is to use cash instead of your credit or debit cards. This can help you visualise just how much money you are actually spending. Using credit or debit cards has become incredibly easy but if you aren't careful you can begin to lose track of how much money is actually being spent - £2 here and £4 there can soon add up and burst your budget.

Another important trick is to review your budget on a regular basis. Take a minute to sit down and compare the actual expenses versus your budget expenses, to make sure you can stay on track. Keep track of your spending by checking your bank statements and receipts.

If you notice a difference between what you are actually spending and what you have budgeted as spending and can not fit the two together, it might be useful to keep a spending diary over the period of a week/month. Write down everything you receive as income and everything you spend as outgoings. At the end of the week/month you can use this diary to get a comprehensive view of your incoming and outgoings. This can help to create a realistic budget that will be easier for you to stick to.

Regular reviews will help you to identify where you may need to improve or cut back.

Cardiff Money Advice team can help you to create a budget; you can drop into the Hub which is located on the second floor of Central Library Hub.

Banking


High Street Banking - 10 Top Tips
1.Keep track of your spending by checking your bank statements and receipts. Are your standing orders, withdrawals and direct debits correct?

2.Seek further help and advice from Citizens Advice Bureau if interest and charges are added.

3.Pay your bills by direct debits if you can as you will often get a discount for doing so.

4.Fill in chequebook stubs to keep a track of the cheques you have written.

5.If you are paying for additional services such as insurance, check whether you need this or whether you can get the same cover cheaper elsewhere.

6.Be aware of other people around you when you withdraw cash

7.Always cover your input of your pin at an ATM or in a shop

8.Shred any documents you do not need to keep - anything over 6 years old.

9.Shop around for the best bank account for you.

10.Notify your bank as soon as possible if you think you have been a victim of fraud and contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040
Internet Banking - 10 Top Tips
1.Regularly log in and check your statement, looking for unusual transactions. Immediately report unfamiliar items to your bank.

2.Never respond to emails or phone calls that purport to be from your bank and ask for your security information.

3.Never leave your computer unattended when logged in. And always log out properly when you've finished your banking session.

4.Avoid public computers for online banking.

5.Make sure your wi-fi network is secure to prevent unauthorised users accessing it.

6.Don't open emails from unknown sources as they may contain a virus.

7.Install the latest anti-virus and anti-spyware software, use an effective firewall, and keep them all up to date.

8.Keep your operating system up to date. You can do this by setting your computer to receive and install updates automatically via the internet.

9.Keep your web browser up to date.

10.Don't write your passwords down in full or share them with anyone.

Purchases


Choosing a product
The Financial Services baseline survey into financial capability in the UK found that most people are poor at choosing products.

Getting the best deal and the most efficient product can reduce your spending and have long term effects on your budget.
For example; buying energy efficient 'A+' or 'A++' rated models could save you its purchase price in reduced energy bills.

Comparison websites can help you to find the best deal. Alternatively looking on Which? or Consumer Advice websites that help you to choose the most efficient product within your price range, can save you money.
Meal Planners
Creating a meal planner every week can save you money on your grocery bills. By planning your meals you can make a list of food that you need and make sure that you stick to it when you visit the supermarket. This will reduce those impulse buys. It will also reduce the amount of food wasted in your household.

Find out more on the Income Maximisation page.

Additional information and advice


Where can I get more help and information about budgeting?
Cardiff Money Advice team can help you to create a budget.

Email: advicehub@cardiff.gov.uk

There are many agencies out there that can offer advice on budgeting and money management. If you would prefer to work out your budget on your own then it may be helpful to visit the following websites for more information:

www.adviceguide.org.uk
The Citizens Advice public site has a money management section with information, fact sheets and online tools.

www.advice4me.org.uk
This is a Citizens Advice public micro site aimed specifically at young people.

www.moneybasics.co.uk
Money Basics have tools to help with money management including a 'spendometer' which can be loaded onto a mobile phone.

www.moneysavingexpert.com
The Money Saving Expert offers lots of practical information and interactive activities.

www.moneymatterstome.co.uk
Money Matters to Me offers lots of practical information, interactive activities and online tools.

www.netmums.com
Net Mums can offer lots of practical information on saving money, including menu planners, as well as useful contacts.

www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk
The Money Advice Service offers lots of practical information on budgeting and surviving on a low income

www.stepchange.org
StepChange Debt Charity is the new name for the Consumer Credit Counselling Service. StepChange offer free advice on problem debt.

www.turn2us.org.uk
Turn2Us is a charitable service that helps people to access the money available to them through welfare benefit, grants and other help.

Students


Please see the funding for schools section on the Income Maximisation page for full details.


Students with dependent children
If you are a full time student with dependant children you can apply for a Childcare Grant through Student Finance Wales. This grant is dependant on your University course, your income and that of your partner and any other dependants. If you are eligible you can receive up to 85% of your childcare costs.

More information can be found on the Student Finance Wales website: www.studentfinancewales.co.uk
Students with adult dependents
You may be eligible for extra money if you have an adult who is financially dependant on you. This Student Finance Wales grant is dependant on your University course, your income and that of your partner and any other dependants.

More information can be found on the Student Finance Wales website: www.studentfinancewales.co.uk.
Students with disabilities
Disabled Students' Allowances can help to pay for extra costs when studying, as a result of a disability. The amount you can claim does not depend on your income, or that of your parents or partner. You will have to attend a Disabled Students' Allowance needs assessment to determine the help required to complete your course.

More information can be found on the Student Finance Wales website: www.studentfinancewales.co.uk.

Shopping


For information on how to save money with your shopping take a look at the spending less on clothes and goods section on the income maximisation page.



Travel


For information on how to save money on travel take a look at the travel section on the income maximisation page.



Stopping Smoking


Ready to stop smoking?
If you are interested in stopping smoking, you don't have to do it alone, there is plenty of free support to help you stop smoking including free NHS services such as Stop Smoking Wales and the Hospital-based Smoking Cessation Service.
Where to get help to stop smoking

There is plenty of support available to help you stop smoking:

Stop Smoking Wales

  • Free advice and support sessions to smokers across Wales
  • Morning, afternoon and early evening sessions
  • Trained advisor to help you plan and prepare for your quit date, support and guidance
  • More than 60 per cent of the smokers who attend the support sessions give up for good
  • Information on how to access nicotine replacement products from GPs that can help

Tel: 0800 085 2219
Web: www.stopsmokingwales.com



Hospital based Smoking Cessation Service

  • Free advice and support sessions for all smokers who are outpatients, inpatients and their partners, as well as parents of paediatric patients who want support in giving up smoking
  • Trained advisor to help you plan and prepare for your quit date, support and guidance
  • Available at University Hospital for Wales, Cardiff and Llandough Hospital
  • Staff working at the hospitals can also access the service
  • Access to nicotine replacement products

Tel: UHW 02920 743582 or Llandough 02920 715420

STOPTOBER
The STOPTOBER campaign aims to encourage all smokers to think about making a stop smoking attempt and to prepare for the the 28-day stop smoking challenge, starting on 1 October.

Smokers are five times more likely to stay smoke-free if they successfully make it through the first four weeks.

All smokers are encouraged to participate in STOPTOBER - sign up now to take part at www.smokefree.nhs.uk/stoptober where you will be provided with a detailed 28-day step-by-step programme to support you in your smokefree attempt (or search for Stoptober online).