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Creating a wedding budget

It is super easy to allow wedding spending to get out of control. So it is important early on to get a hold of your wedding spending and keep it reigned in. One of the best ways to do this is to create a budget that allows you to track all your spending as well as all the contributions to the wedding fund. Today we will be sharing with our readers a FREE PRINTABLE wedding budget. 

If you click on the image below it will take you to a google docs from there you can download the spreadsheet. Print it off and start the budgeting process. 

Here are some handy tips to get the most out of the printable.

First, make a note of all the contributions. This will give you the total you have to work with and will guide the rest of the process. 

Decide what expences you will have. For example if you have a combined ceremony and reception package then amend to reflect that. At first you wont be entirely sure how much of your budget you will spend on each area and although there are percentage guides don't worry if they are not exactly how you plan to spend. Talk to friends and family who are recently married to see which areas they found their budget went mostly too. Also try to decide on what you plan on having (the budget sheet will have categories that not everyone will use), identify what areas are of highest priority and other which are less important. For example for us photography was super important to us and we attributed a high percentage of our budget to this area, whereas my dress was only £150. We found the best way to start to figure these amounts out by collecting a number of quotes and combining these with guide percentages to see how much is sensible to spend in our area. This will be your budgeted amount.

Once you have contacted a number of vendors and narrowed it down you will have a better idea of how much it is likely to cost. We recommend contacting 3-5 vendors for quotes to give you the best idea of prices. This is your vendor quote.

You may also want to assign certain expences to money given my particular individuals. For example it may be the bride and grooms responsibility to pay for the groom's ring. You may want to use a colour coding method for this. 

Finally once you have bought all that is needed for a expense area then give it a tick next to it at the end. Do this to remind yourself to stop spending from this category and to control the budget. Its also a good idea to keep a copy of all the receipts as you go along so that you can verify the total when writing it in the budget. 

If you use the spreadsheet be sure to let us know how it helps you with wedding budgeting :)

Money Monday || Cash envelope system

As many of you know I am a big fan of Dave Ramsey and one of the ideas he advocates is using a cash envelope system. Todays blog post is about how I implement this into my life. 

So firstly I don't use cash for everything. I use a combination of cash, debit card and direct debit/standing order to pay for my monthly expenses.
Rent and bills are paid by standing order so they are set to come out. Other expenses such as textbooks, clothes, transport which I pay less frequently and have annual budgeted limits I have envelopes for (though sometimes I use debit).
There are two main areas I always pay for with cash, my weekly grocery shop and entertainment/ eating out. These are also the two areas I am most prone to overspending. I take out my cash once a week, usually the day I do the food shop. Previously had tried using actual envelopes for these categories, but this was not helpful as I'm always changing bags and would forget to take them if I was just popping down the shop. So instead I use the separate compartments of my purse to separate the money into its respective categories. 

Within my purse there are three compartments. One I use for my weekly shop money, the other I use for my dining out and entertainment money and the back compartment I use to keep all my receipts and coupons. 
For other expences which I spend less frequently (i.e. clothing or books) I use my cash envelopes (and these are kept at home unless I'm going out to buy from that category. They are super easy to assemble and I usually print in greyscale to save ink(and pennies). Below is a link to the cash envelope printable that I use. Whenever I spend from these categories I will make sure to write down how much I spend and on what on the front to help me keep track. As I find for expenses I have an annual (not weekly) budget for because they are less frequent it is super easy for me to forget what I've spent. 
If I use my card to spend from one of these categories then I take the cash out of the envelope and deposit it into my account (or put it aside for next weeks budget and withdraw less cash the following week).

How to vacation on a budget

It is that time of year where summer vacations are nearly there. Chris and I are off to USA for three weeks on a road trip from California to Colorado and back very soon (we are both super excited for this). But holidays are expensive, for us this is the last big holiday for several years as Chris is starting college in September, and I'm in law school. Despite being a big holiday, we have worked hard to find the best deals and keep the cost as low as possible when booking. Today we will be sharing our tips on having an amazing vacation on a budget.

Make an itinerary. Know when you want to fly out. When you need accommodation for what locations and what you plan on doing during your days, this especially important for day trip planning. Though having some flexibility on your dates is helpful and will help you to be able to pick dates which offer the best value for money. 

Flights- Book early. We booked in January for a June/July holiday, but the prices were even cheaper when we looked in November/December. We found SkySkanner a really helpful site for comparing flight prices. Also think realistically about how many of the 'add-ons' you need. For us we knew that where we would be staying would have laundry facilities so we decided that we would share one 'hold' luggage and them both have our carry-ons (Chris has promised me that he will be able to fit all his stuff in his carry on; though we will see how that pans out). A lot of the cheaper airline make up their profits with add-ons. Food on the flights worked out as a £50 pp add-on. There is no way the food is worth that, and so we will be taking our own pack ups (and buy drinks in duty-free as we have to work around the liquids limit). We are flying with Norweigan who worked out £150 cheaper than everywhere else (plus I got cashback through Quidco)

Car Hire- At the end of the day all you need is a car to get you from A to B. It doesn't have to be a fancy model just ensure it can fit the number of passengers and the right amount of luggage. Big names such as Hertz and Avis often don't work out the best price. Plus never wait until you arrive in the country to pick up the car you sometimes pay  double what you would if you book online in advance. Also don't forget to compare the cost of the drivers if there are several of you travelling. If any of the drivers are young or have points/penalties on their license then the costs will increase. Consider whether someone else could opt to drive. 

Accommodation- I personally really love for booking accommodation. Firstly they offer some of the best prices out there. They have a really good cancellation policy. Plus for every ten nights you book you get one free. For our road trip, we have been super blessed and are able to stay with family and friends along our journey (we have only had to book eight nights out of the 20). also works through several cashback sites so you can save even more on your holiday. By being able to pay in advance you avoid paying debit-card international transaction fees. 

Foreign exchange- Monsey Saving Expert has a super useful tool for comparing exchange rates which are what we used when determining who to go with for our travel money. Never use a debit card abroad as the charges are extortionate. Though the site is correct in that there are a select number of credit cards that do provide slightly cheaper travel money. At the end of the day, they are still credit cards and so there is the temptation to spend much more than your budget as you can go into debt. However, if you have the financial diligence, then this may be the best option. If you want the security of having money on a card without the issue of debt or card fees, then a travel cashcard/passport works well. We opted to convert some of our money onto Travelex cash passports and the other in cash (in case we cant get to an ATM).

Theme parks- Booking in advance rather than on the day can save huge amounts. They are often 2/3x as expensive on the door also look for multi-day savings passes. Food at theme parks is also super expensive so bringing a packed lunch is often a good idea (though check how much a locker will cost). Another good thing to do is look online at what food places that are within your budget. Disney allows you to search their food outlets online based on cost p/p.

How do you save money on your vacation?

Making the most of casback

Who wouldn't want free money just for shopping? We that is exactly how cashback works. Whenever I make a large online purchase I look to see if I can get cashback. 

Currently some banks offer cashback on purchases made. The Santander 123 Credit Card (and I'm only advocating credit cards if you can use them responsibly i.e. pay them off every month and even then I strongly caution against them) has a staggered cashback depending on the type of purchase. Lloyds offer an 'everyday offers' scheme which provides cashback and is available on all current account including student accounts (and can be used on a debit card). Also if you are a Lloyds customer be sure to sign up to their 'its on us' scheme where they can randomly pay for something you purchased on your card during the month up to the value of £500.

My favourite online cashback scheme is Quidco. I have found myself using it a lot whilst booking my holiday to America this summer. We managed to get cashback on our flights, accommodation, car hire and currency exchange which has saved us quite a bit of money and all for buy what we would have bought in the first place. Plus there is a handy app so you can see what inshore cash back offers are available in your area. Though the cashback may not seem like huge amounts it quickly adds up. But remember to not let it encourage impulse buys purely because of the cashback. 

Grocery cashback- Quidco, Shopitiize, Checkoutsmart and TopCashback all offer cashback schemes for shopping where you upload your receipt and if it coincides with any cashback offers they are running you get the money back. I find that it works well to check these sites when you are writing your shopping list. Though don't be fooled sometimes it still works out cheaper to buy generic store brand rather than the branded product with cashback. For all my English readers out there head over to CouponShop for the latest top cashback deals and where best to use them. 

What amazing deals have you found with cashback schemes?

Save money while eating out

For Chris and I eating out is by far the luxury we find hardest to cut back on our budget. Its a big part of our social life and something we enjoy doing for dates. Despite our love for dining out we have managed to incorporate it into our budget by using the following tips to reduce the cost of dining out. 

1. Order mains only and leave the starter and dessert (or share a starter if you are desperate). Portions are often so big I found that if I had a starter I would struggle to finish my main. 
2. Water not soda. Drinks are one of the most overpriced items on a restaurants menu and alcoholic beverages are the worst. Tap water goes well with every dish and even better with our budget.
3. Use coupons. This is one of my favourite ways to save, I have had a couple of free 'tastecard' which get 2for1 in a number of restaurants. Also many offer student discounts. Sign up to restaurants mailing list as they will often send offers this way as well. Nectar and Tesco Clubcard points can also be redeemed and used towards a meal out. Also don't forget Groupon who regularly have deals on restaurants.
4. Eat lunch not dinner. Lunch menus are generally much cheaper and many places are offering the exact same food as served as dinner. This is because there are less customers at lunch time so by lowering prices they aim to obtain more custom. Though sometimes portions are smaller don't see this as a negative as you are helping both your waistline and your wallet
5. Portion control. Many places portions are massive and far to big to be eaten in one sitting. Don't be afraid to ask for a 'doggy bag' and take home the rest of the meal for another day.
6. Cashback. Don't forget to check if you can get cashback with your meal as well. Quidco often give cashback for takeaway orders. While banks such as Lloyds can give cashback for actual meals out. For example I can currently get 15% cashback from Gourmet Burger Kitchen through my bank. 
7.Copycat recipes. The best way to save money is not to eat out. If you find yourself craving your favourite restaurant dish why not try finding a copycat recipe for it as there are tons on the internet especially Pinterest. One of our favourite sites for cooking restaurant quality food at home is Great British Chefs, these are some of the best chefs in the UK sharing their favourite recipes there are ones for all abilities and tastes. 
8. Don't always tip. Sounds controversial but I am a firm believer in only tipping for exceptional service (and I say this having waitressed before). Though I appreciate that tipping culture varies significantly depending on the country don't go giving money away on sub-par service. 

How do you save money when eating out?


Saving money on utility bills in college

Managing bills can be challenging at the best of times. There are so many factors that impact how much they will cost and it can be difficult to predict future expenditure. For students bills are one of the most unpredictable outgoings (unless your super lucky to have them included in your rent). Living in a shared house you are not in complete control of your household consumption. But there are a number of things you can do to to ease the cost. 
  1.  Sit down with your housemates at the start of the year and talk about your expectations for consumption. Do this again when you get bills especially if it has gone up and discuss what changes can be made. Discuss who is in charge of which bills and when things will be paid and how. 
  2. Don't assume the previous tenants found the best deal. Seach for the best energy supplier at the start of your tenancy. Try using a comparison site like MoneySupermarket  to compare prices. Companies will try and lure you in with 'student' deals. But depending on your consumption they are not always the best value especially if you will be living there over the summer. 
  3. Set heating and hot water on timers. Most of the time you will be out of the house so during the winter it is economical to have heating and hot water set to a couple of hours in the morning and evening. We have it set for 7-9am and 6-8pm and this works really well. It also means that there is no arguing about heating being on too much or not enough as it is all pre-set.
  4. Give the dishwasher a miss. It is super easy to just chuck your pots in the dishwasher and be done with washing up but it costs a lot more in energy than washing up by hand. As you will only have your washing up to do it will be over and done with in no time. 
  5. Say bye-bye to stand-by. Try to ensure all communal appliances (and your own as well) are turned off at the socket after use. Though they don't use tones of energy for such a simple task of switching off it is definitely worth it. 
  6. Share laundry loads. If your house comes with a washing machine rather than everyone doing laundry individually and share loads and you wont use the washing machine as much. Saving you electricity and water. Also give the tumble dryer a miss and use an indoor airer or an outdoor washing line.
How did you save money on your utility bills in college? 

Free Monthly Budget template + GIVEAWAY

Print out your FREE monthly budget template so that you can grapple your finances better.  Use these to track your spending through out the month and allow your to better understand your spending habits.  It it so much easier to control your spending when you see everything written down. Although there may be payments such as rent that you can change but other spending such as entertainment is much more controllable.

You might find after doing your budget that you are overspending in a number of areas. Consider using  a 'cash only' system where you take out the budgeted amount in cash only meaning once its gone it is gone. 

So I have recently set up an Esty store and will be selling pritnables (keep an eye out over the coming weeks as I upload more items). 

Today's giveaway is a free budget planning printables kit which includes:
• Monthly Budget

• Bill Payment Tracker

• Savings Tracker

• Debt Snowball & Creditor information

• Monthly Totals (2 pages)

• Binder cover 

For your chance to win enter using the raflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

10 things I've bought that saved me money

Inspired by BudgetGirl's video tag I decided to embark upon the "Things I've bought that saved me money" tag.

1. Annual bus pass. At £365 a year rather than over £4 a day this has definitely saved me a lot this past academic year. 

2. Water bottle and travel squash. I take these to uni everyday and it saves me so much as I don't end up buying drinks on campus. All I've gotta do is find a water source and add the squash and voila the perfect refreshing drink

3.  Slow cooker. Chris and I received this as a gift for our engagement (so not technically a purchase). There are so many recipes I can make with my slow cooker, and they are perfect for my busy schedule. It means that if there is a meal all ready for me when I get home 

4. NUS card. This is a student saver card that gets you student discount at so many stores and restaurants. It is only £12 a year but I have definitely saved more than that from the card. My tastecard also falls under this category (though I have never actually bought one, having won them in competitions). Tastecard's get you 2for1 in many restaurants.

5. My DIY 'savvy cents' wallet. I found a super cute French Connections purse at TK Maxx about 2 years ago and recently started using it again as it has so many compartments making it easy for me to use a cash only system. This has helped me save money by not using my card and also sticking more stringently to the budget.

6. Hair scissors. I have been cutting my own hair for the past three years and this has saved me so much money. I find that with curly hair it doesn't need to be super perfect. 

7. Tupperware. I recently invested in some better quality Tupperware and love using it. I am keen on cooking in bulk and freezing. I also like to purchase items in clearance aisle and freeze them. In addition, I've been striving to take lunches with me to uni much more (as the canteen is expensive). 

8. Falling under a similar category my drinks flask (thermos flask). I bought a super cute Kate Spade one on eBay before starting college and love it. In the winter I will take soup into uni for lunch, or hot chocolate. 

9. 'Bag for life' I have a couple of the 10/50p bags that I reuse, this saves me money when shopping at the shops on campus which charges for every bag that I use. This is not only great for my budget but also for the planet. Plus when it wears out take it to the supermarket and they will change it for free hence the bag for life. 

10. Staples better binder. I bought 5 during my high school years and they are still going strong and I intend to use them for the whole of law school (as I've only got one year left). I also use one for my household binder. This has saved me money as lower quality binders I have used in the past have 'died' really quickly and meant more cost for buying replacements.

Be sure to check out the other videos on this tag

Living on an irregular income in college

This past week was Student loan/grant payment time for those studying in England. For many it was long over due.  Often students find themselves really struggling to budget with such an irregular income resulting in them going overdrawn or having to borrow from another source. However, there are a number of simple but effective ways to deal with an irregular income. 

  1. When your student loan/grant comes in divide it up into the number of months that it needs to last you (usually 3 or 4) and put everything but this months money in a easy access savings account. This way you can pay your self a monthly pay cheque making it much easier to budget as you know how much you have to spend over shorter periods of time as well as long term. This essentially provides you with a regular income through an artificial means. Though it requires self-control to do this is really pays off and aids budgeting.
  2. Try to have all bills frequent and rent infrequent. If you are fortunate like I am my landlord lets me pay my rent when student finance comes in, allowing me to pay 3 times a year. If you let your landlord know this before you sign the contract they are usually fine with it. For bills try to have them monthly. Quarterly/biannual bills are awful because it is so easy to forget about them, they are hard to budget for and it is hard to change your usage habits if you don't know how much you are using. 
  3. Try to have fixed bills. For example at the moment my internet bill is a fixed monthly amount. This allows me to budget this easily as I know exactly what it will cost each month. Whereas my electricity bill is not fixed and so it is much more difficult to budget. If you don't have a fixed bill try to produce an average and allow a little more (about 10%) so as to give you some flexibility.
  4. Splurge at the end of term, not the beginning. So your bank account is fuller than it has been in months. Stop, and think about much more rewarding it would be to have a treat at the end of term. Try to budget to leave your self an 'emergency fund' but if your are lucky and there are no emergencies this term you should have a nice pot of money to treat yourself or invest.
  5. Stay out of your overdraft. Yes they are often charge free and interest free in student accounts but this is a habit to build for life. At the end of the day it is not your money and therefore do not consider it part of your student 'income'. This may be difficult but with careful budgeting (and potentially increasing income through part-time work) it is possible
  6. Try to add a regular income into your budget. The best way to do this is to take up part time work. Adding some routine into your budget will make things easier and more manageable plus you'll have extra money to work with. You could use your part time work income specifically for bills to aid in the creation of a financial routine. 
Happy saving :)