Our household income changes from month to month (due to Husband being self employed) but is generally very low. I use an old-school Book Keeping Journal to plan our finances for the year. Most people, I know, would prefer a spreadsheet but I like the act of committing our expenses to paper with my own pen. Also we haven’t had a printer for eight years and I like something that I can look at and scribble notes and amendments on!
I keep track of our joint finances and mark off each direct debit or standing order as it comes out our joint account. Husband and I still use the system of having our own accounts and then each paying in an agreed amount each month. Our joint account expenses include: Water (South West – notoriously the highest charges in the country), Council tax, Boiler insurance (saved our skins this winter I can tell you), life insurance, home and contents insurace, Mortgage, combined gas and electric, insurace for both cars, TV licence, car tax for Husband’s car (he puts in extra funds for this). We also budget to save 40 pounds a month towards car maintenance and theoretically we would also save money from here towards anything else – hoidays, emergency funds etc. I say theoretically because quite often we struggle to just pay for the basic commitments above to it isn’t always possible to put aside anything extra.
The above also includes 200 pounds for food for the month. Honestly this isn’t really adequate as this also includes non-food items like toilet rolls, laundry supplies, toothbrshes etc and we go over this without fail every.single.month. But the grocery budget will be a whole other post!
My personal budget (ie what is left over once I’ve made my contribution to the joint account) looks like this:
Lovefilm/Amazon Instant Video membership – 9 (We get huge value out of this and I think and average spend of 2.07 a week (calculated over the year) makes this well worth the spend. Particularly since we don’t really get to the cinema anymore. Haven’t been to see a grown up film for about 3 or 4 years. We go to see a kids film maybe once a year. So this membership is great for us.).
Petrol – 30: I work from home half of the week and only go into the office for one day. I also work locally so that keeps expenses low. I could earn more if I went to the nearest big town but then I’d have to pay more in commuting and parking. I walk whereever possible (though living rurally this isn’t always feasible!).
General – 30: This pays for my weekly coffee out with friends (2.25 if you’re interested and totally worth it), make-up, a book, going out etc. To be honest though this tends to get sucked away on random little expenses here and there.
Car tax – 15.75: Really I could have set this up to come out of the joint account but it didn’t work out that way!
Holidays – 10: Theoretically I could leave this alone and afford an ‘away’ holiday in about 1 million years time but it always ends up being used in going out during the school holidays. Which I’m fine with.
Personal savings – 9: Theoretically this pays for my hair to be cut every 2-3 months and any clothes or shoes I’d need. Let’s just laugh about this for a moment. Surfice it to say that – hooray! – I’ve had my hair cut once this year and I have bought zero in the way of clothing or shoes. Ditto make-up and skincare actually but that’s another post as well.
We get a small amount of tax credits (we could get more but haven’t got all of our figures ready – self employment is complicated) and we also get the monthly standard child benefit that everyone gets. Out of this we have lots of mini funds that pay for school uniform, kids clothing, birthdays, activities, school trips etc. Basically it all goes on the children.
My youngest turned two in January and is going to start pre-school next month. As he isn’t 3 and we’re not hard up enough there is no help with funding for this so we’ve got to find just over 12 pounds a week to pay for the 3 hour weekly session. My parents used to help with childcare but now they don’t. This means Husband can’t work on the day I go into the office and I have to get the rest of my work done when our son is napping. But I’m not getting enough done in that small window anymore so we’ve had to cave in and try pre-school (it’s a lovely one, I would have preferred to wait to go to a different one though but they can’t go there until 3). Realistically we need two mornings but it’s already going to be a struggle finding 50-65 pounds a month to cover that one morning. I’m really not sure where it will come from. As you can see there isn’t much wriggle room in our budget. But I’m sure we’ll find a way!