So, here’s the first of my weekly financial round-ups for March…
I got my Health in Pregnancy grant through this week. This is a one off payment of £190 which can be used for anything though the suggestion is, I suppose, that you use it towards healthy food. Since trying to have healthier snacks is something I blogged about just yesterday the timing seems to be pretty good! Thus, I have just done my weekly food shop and added £20 to my budget for the week. I’ll probably do the same next week too which would essentially mean I am now budgeting £200 for groceries this month (though this does include a lot of non-food items like bin liners and so on) – £160 from my regular food budget and £40 from my grant. I have bought lots and lots of veggies, some fish (which I think I can just about stomach again) and an unimaginable amount of fruit; raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, melon, apples, bananas, yellow plums…
GENERAL SPENDING/POCKET MONEY
I have £55.05 left to last me for the next two weeks. I’m still trying to stock up on shampoo, conditioner and so on. Boots had an offer on Dove shampoo and conditioner and some of their own brand shower gels all at £1 each. When I paid for them I got given a No 7 voucher so I bought some of my eye make-up remover for less than £2. Someone else has given me another No 7 voucher so I expect I’ll be popping back in for some toner in the next few days!
As predicted a couple of small things have come up though I’m pleased to say that, halfway between paydays, more than half remains (£50 out of £75).
Deciding to do these weekly posts on my finances made me have a good think about any niggling jobs that needed to be done or if there were any additional ways I could manage my finances better. I’ll try to put a bit of effort in each week to come up with at least one thing! This is what I managed to come up with for this week…
I went to a bank (not my usual one) where I opened a savings account with £10 about 10 years ago and never looked at again. I am told the account is considered inactive (and that I might have actually taken the £10 out at some point!) but that they will send me a cheque in the next 30 days for whatever remains. The savings account now barely pays any interest so I have closed it as it won’t be any use to me. Hardly a dramatic money making venture but it only took a few minutes out of my lunch break to pop into the local branch and it got a very small loose end tied up if nothing else.
I’ve also had a good look at our joint account. Inexplicably I have always had a bit of a mental block regarding this. We use it for all of our direct debits for utility bills etc but I can never seem to get a precise handle on what is coming out when. By overpaying a bit here and there we have slowly paid off a small overdraft on the account which is good. However, we have an empty savings account attached to it which we never seem to use. One or two bills (such as telephone/broadband) vary a bit each month so we try to overbudget for these. My new plan is to keep a better eye on this and, at the end of each month, see if there is anything that could be transfered to the savings account. We’re talking small sums here – £5 or £10 a month probably. However, it is these small amounts that really do add up and since we’ve taken the trouble to go out and earn the money it seems madness to let it go to waste (ever noticed how small amounts of money just seem to evaporate if you don’t make a point of doing something with them?!). This is unlikely to ever add up to anything significant but could be used towards other expenses such as car maintenance or unexpected bills. Having the odd £40 stashed away here and there is always handy!
Decision made, I just needed to work out how to monitor what was going on with the account. One of the problems is that a lot of the companies we pay by direct debit seem to take their payments on slightly different days each month so it isn’t entirely predictable. I’ve created a table showing all of our direct debits and standing orders in roughly the order they ought to go out during the month. I’ve put a copy for March in my Filofax and can now cross each payment out as I check our internet banking. This should mean I can keep an eye on whether everything has or hasn’t been taken out and also if there is anything actually left over. I’ll be really interested to see if this means we have something in that empty savings account at the end of the month!