The first step to improving how you manage your money is to fully understand all of your income and expenditure.
To help with this task, I have created The Catapillr Income & Expense Tool. You can download a free copy via the link below.
PLEASE NOTE THAT CATAPILLR WILL NOT BE ABLE TO ACCESS ANY OF THE INFORMATION YOU INCLUDE IN THE TOOL.
This simple spreadsheet allows you to quickly and easily see how much income you earn each month, how you spend it and how much disposable income you have left.
In addition, the spreadsheet includes a useful summary to highlight some of the keys aspects of your monthly income and expenditure.
Follow these steps to get the most from The Catapillr Income & Expense Tool.
1. Download the tool.
Firstly, download a copy of the Catapillr Income & Expense Tool. You are able to add any numbers in to the white cells.
Get a copy of a recent pay slip and add your salary/wages to the income section. If you are paid weekly, ensure to convert this to a monthly figure.
If you have any other additional income this can be included as well.
3. List out all of your direct debits and standing orders.
I term direct debits or standing orders as “fixed” monthly expenses. These are expenses for which you will have a financial commitment or obligation to pay each month.
If you have internet banking, then it should be very easy to get a list of all of your direct debits or standing orders by going to the payments section within your account.
If you do not have internet banking, then refer to your most recent bank statements. It should be easy to identify which expenses are direct debits and standing orders.
You will then need to categorise the direct debits and standing orders into their expense type, a list of which can be found in the tool, such as mortgage/rent, council tax, car payment, electricity etc. If you can not find a category that fits your payment, then you can add a new expense type at the bottom of the spreadsheet, via “other”, these can simply be over-written to reflect your new payment.
4. Review your direct debits and standing orders.
It’s worthwhile at this point to review all of your direct debits and standing orders and ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I know what this expense is for?
- Is it still relevant?
- Is it the correct amount?
- Is it at the right time of the month for me?
If you’re happy with the answers to all the questions, then great, if not, you’ll need to follow your bank’s process to amend, change or cancel your direct debit or standing order. You should always take some time to review your direct debits or standing orders on a regular basis, to ensure they are correct and still required.
5. Review recent bank statements.
The next step is to review your last 3 months’ bank statements to see if there are any regular monthly payments that are not set up as a direct debit or standing order. If there are, then these need to be added in to the expense section of the tool. You should also consider, if possible, to set these expenses up as a direct debit or standing order.
6. Use the template.
If you’ve completed all of the above steps, well done! You’ve now added all the information in to the template that’s required and it’s now time to start using that data to help improve how you manage your finances.
Firstly, if you have any new direct debits or standing orders to set up, make sure you do them now.
Secondly, ask yourself the following key questions.
Do I spend more than I earn?
To answer this take a look at the Income after Expenses figure.
If this number is positive then great, you spend less than your monthly income.
The income after expenses figure is your monthly disposable income. Simply dividing this by 4 will give you a good estimation of how much money you have to spend each week. Try, as best as possible, to keep your spending below this amount. If you are tempted to spend more than your budget then ask yourself; can I afford it?
If the number is negative, then you have some work to do but you are in a great position, now that you have completed the template and have a better understanding of your finances.
However, you do need to take action now, to ensure that you are not eroding your savings or getting yourself in to more debt by borrowing money, which will only serve to increase your expenses, keeping you trapped in your current situation.
To help you out we have prepared the following advice, which will give you some ideas on how you can bring your spending in line with your income.
The first thing that you must do is continue to complete the income and expense template each month. This will give you confidence that you are managing your money and will help to identify when your income covers your expenses.
Secondly, take a look at your income and see if any of the following ideas are suitable:
- Ask for a pay rise
- Ask for over-time
- Ask for more hours
- Take on a second job
- Sell unwanted items
Now it’s time to review your expenses and consider the following:
- Do I have any non-essential expenses I can cut back on?
- Can I move my debts to a cheaper provider i.e. a credit card balance transfer of debt consolidation loan?
- Look around for cheaper deals on items such as mortgages, mobile phones, utilities etc.
- If you need to buy a non-essential item, ask yourself the following:
Can I afford it?
Can I get it cheaper somewhere else?
Can I buy it second-hand or borrow it instead?
Finally, if your financial situation or debts are causing you stress and anxiety, then please seek out further help. There are numerous debt charities who can provide more in depth help and assistance to your specific circumstances.
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