Is it more practical to use a weekly or monthly budget?

Is it more practical to use a weekly or monthly budget?

With summer fast-approaching, social occasions on the up and prices for basic necessities are becoming more and more unmanageable – so it’s no surprise if all you can think about right now is your budget. 

Even seasoned budgeting veterans are likely to be rethinking their every move at the moment.

With endless ways to save and spend, it can feel like navigating a minefield trying to work out the most practical way to budget – whether it’s monthly or weekly.

We asked a budgeting expert to share the best way to go about setting your budget. This is what they had to say…

Should you have a weekly or monthly budget?

The annoying answer to the question of whether you should organise your finances by week or month is that it truly depends on how much disposable income you have left after your bills.

‘If you’ve got a decent amount of cash left over after your bills you can work on a monthly basis,’ says Jasmine Birtles, CEO of self-help money site MoneyMagpie.

‘But if things are really tight and you’re on a low budget, or you’re really worried about the bills, then I would say go on a weekly budget – because you’ll be more able to keep on top of it.’

How to manage a monthly budget:

Jeremy Helm, a financial analyst at MWB Solutions, recommends the following:

Note down all of your fixed costs

List all of the costs coming out of your bank each month.

You should even look at three months’ worth of outgoings to remind yourself of some costs that might not come out each month – many people forget water bills if it’s not a monthly cost, for instance, as well as quarterly subscriptions.

Note down any variable yet unavoidable costs for the month

Make sure you don’t forget about any upcoming costs that are unavoidable, such as birthday gifts or upcoming events you had planned.

Once all of your costs are noted down, subtract them from your income so you know what’s left over.

Prioritise your costs

When you record your costs, split them between essential and luxury and make amendments where necessary.

Make sure your costs are also ordered in priority order, as well as detailing when the money goes out, to ensure you won’t have any cashflow problems.

That being said, though, Jasmine actually thinks that most people should do a little bit of both.

‘We all need to have an idea in the back of our heads of how much money we’ve got to play with each month and each week,’ she tells Metro.co.uk.

Jasmine recommends calculating your fixed costs on a monthly basis – including any annual costs, like a TV license, which you can divide by 12 to work out how much you need to save for them each month. 

‘Once you know what you’ve got coming in each month, take away your monthly expenditures and you’ll know how much you’ve got to play with each month,’ Jasmine says.

‘Then, divide that number by roughly four (or five if it’s a five-week month), and then you know how much you’ve got to work with each week.’

This method, while it might make managing big purchases on things like new furniture or unexpected car costs a little more difficult, it does stop you from running out of money a week before payday.

Tips for managing a weekly budget:

Rachel Martin, director of StriveX and founder of Accountant She, recommends the following for managing a weekly budget:

Be flexible but prepared

Give yourself a weekly allowance – but be flexible with it.

Budgeting doesn’t mean you can’t go out and enjoy yourself, it means being prepared for it.

You’ll probably spend more money the week it’s your sister’s birthday and your friend’s hen do, right?

So, give yourself a bigger weekly allowance that week and spend a little less the following weeks.

Review your transactions weekly

Make it part of your weekly routine to review your transactions.

Ignoring your bank account is definitely not the best way to budget.

Instead, take some time each Sunday to review where you are spending your money.

If you do this weekly, you will have fewer transactions to review and it won’t take as long as opposed to if you did it monthly.

Have a separate budget for big purchases

Finally, set money aside for those big purchases.

A lot of banks, like Monzo and Starling, have pots now which make it easier for you to set aside money for specific purchases, like holidays or house and car repairs, or even your haircut.

It also helps to write down the big purchases you will have in the next few months so you remember what you’re saving for.  

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