Understanding and managing finances and money can be hard, especially if you're a young adult carer and you've got more than just your own money to worry about. There are so many, apps and websites that tell you to do this and that, where do you even start?
Budgeting - The Basics
Understanding what you've got coming in and going out is the first step of getting to grips with managing and understanding your finances. I know even this can be daunting, especially when spreadsheets are involved - but it doesn't have to be complicated.
The best simple tool to get started I've found is the Budget Planner created by The Money Advice Service, a free and impartial money advice website.
Before you start, it's a good idea to get any bills or regular receipts so you know when money is coming out and exactly everything you or your household pays for, like Water, Electric, Car Insurance, etc.
First Steps - Income
Make sure you enter all your incoming money in this section. Incoming money just means anything that is paid to you, or your household. There are different categories so you can add more than one type of income, like if you get benefits and a student loan.
Next Steps - Outgoings
Outgoings are everything you pay for regularly, like rent or a mortgage payment, water, electric etc. Try and get it as accurate as you can, but if you're not 100% sure, a rough estimate will be fine.
The Interesting Part - Spending Breakdown
This is where you see if you are spending more than what you have coming in, or if you are left with money at the end of everything. The handy chart shows what you're spending the most money on - it might surprise you!
Don't Panic! If your budget says your overspending, you've already taken the first step to managing your money better.
Save and download the spreadsheet, and if you are spending more than you have coming in, or you're spending too much money on something that could be spent elsewhere, make another budget – this time with the budget you want to stick to.
Maybe you spend £20 a week on takeout and want to save money? Set your spending goal to £20 every two weeks and see how much money you could save.
Or maybe you're shocked at how much money you're spending on electricity? Try cutting down on usage, even turning the lights off when a room is not in use can help, or investigate if you could save money by changing providers.
It's all about Ingoings Vs Outgoings
Once you've got the hang of looking at your money, what you pay out, what you owe, things will become a lot easier to handle. Then you can even start investigating how to save money, and become a real expert at your finances!
If you're still confused or worried about your finances, The Money Advice Service has great advice and links to help you figure things out, including information around benefits entitled to Young Adult Carers. You can also call the Citizens Advice Service, who can provide free and non-judgemental advice around finances and debt. Or, if you're a young adult carer or carer in Wiltshire, you can call us at Carer Support Wiltshire on freephone 0800 181 4118 for advice.
Try out the budget planner for yourself and let us know in the comments how you got on!