Managing your money

A quick guide to better budgeting

On your marks, get set... budget

A good first step toward taking control of your finances is to set-up a budget. It could help you avoid getting into debt, put you in a better position for unexpected costs and maybe help you save something for the future. We've put together some ideas to help you get started.

1. Work out your income

Before you plan your budget, you need to know how much you've got coming in each month and understand any deductions from your pay before it lands in your current account. Also, consider other income you might get like benefits (e.g. child benefit, child tax credit and pension credit) maintenance or child support too.

2. Where could you save?

A budget could help you to understand how and where you can save money. A good place to start is looking through your regular monthly outgoings. Our top energy saving tips could help save you money on your gas and electricity and reduce your carbon footprint at the same time. 

Use the Ulster Bank app to help you check your monthly direct debits and standing orders. 

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3. Essentials vs luxuries

For some, one of the hardest parts of budgeting is identifying what is ‘essential’ and what is ‘nice-to-have’. Paying your mortgage or rent is clearly essential along with buying food and paying for energy. Find your inner Marie Kondo and de-clutter your outgoings.

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4. Dealing with your debt

If you can, pay off any overdrafts, loans or credit card debt you may have as this typically charges a higher rate of interest. But ensure you check the terms of your agreements to avoid any additional fees or charges.

If you’re struggling with your debt, help is at hand.

We sort your spend so you don't have to

If you find you've been spending way too much on certain things, you can set yourself budgets in different categories. You could set-up a spreadsheet or you could let the Ulster Bank app automatically categorise your current account transactions as you go. It could save you time and help you find those non-essential items to cut down on.

5. Ongoing maintenance

Change is one of life’s certainties. Take time to review your hard work as and when changes happen, or at regular intervals to keep your budget on track. That way you can spot any over-spending before it goes too far or opportunities to save more.

If you can, involve your family or household. A shared responsibility for your budgeting efforts will improve your chances of keeping them going over the long term. 

6. Breakdown your budget

The 50/20/30 budgeting rule is a popular one to help keep you right. It works by dividing up what money you have coming in and then breaking it down into how you’ll spend it: 50% on essentials, 30% on nice-to-haves, and 20% to savings, as a guide. 

7. Set a savings goal

On average, customers can save twice as much when they save towards a goal. It creates a reason to cut back and helps bring the bigger picture into focus. Treat it like a household bill rather than hoping you have something at the end of the month to put away.

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We're here to help you budget

Get your finances in good shape, discover helpful hints and tips for everyday spending or focus on something specific for the future.

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