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Control my day-to-day money

Life can be very stressful when your day-to-day money is not under control. Whatever stage you’re at, setting yourself manageable goals to get on track can help give you that control.

Everybody is different and will be at different stages of their life, so the feeling of your day-to-day money being out of control will be personal to you.

Do these scenarios look familiar?

  • Running out of money before payday or not being able to spend money on the things that make you happy.
  • Struggling to pay bills and debts whilst putting food on the table, or your debts are taking too much of your pay.
  • Maybe it’s got too overwhelming and you’ve started to not open letters from your bank or the credit card company. 

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Whatever stage you’re at, setting yourself manageable goals to get on track can help give you that control"

Even if everything was under control, perhaps you’ve recently experienced a sudden or unexpected change which is going to affect your finances. This could be illness, divorce or needing to stop work to care for a loved one, or maybe there’s a big unexpected bill to fix the car or replace the washing machine.

If it feels like your mental wellbeing is suffering because you’re worried about money, you are not alone and there is free help available for you. Visit our Support my mental wellbeing page for useful links to charities and other organisations that will be able to help you.

Things can get out of control quickly when money is tight but there are some small steps you can take today to get you on track whatever your situation and we’re here to help give you the confidence to take them.

Getting back in control

Write a budget

As a first step it’s worth making sure you really understand how much you have coming in, what has to be paid from your income (like rent, mortgage, bills, debts) and what else you are spending.

It may sound simple, but getting everything out on the table like receipts, credit card statements and bills can help you see if there are any opportunities to save money.

It can feel scary if you’ve never done this before and your money feels out of control, but this is the first step to getting in control and we’ve got information and tools to help you.

The tool has sections for each type of spending and you can input how much you spend weekly, monthly or annually. The calculator will then add everything up for you to show you a spending amount for a frequency you choose.

You can email a copy of the completed planner to yourself or download it as an Excel file so you can keep track and play around with different spending.

Manage your debt

If you are in a debt emergency right now, there is free support to help you. A debt emergency could be court or bailiff action, threat of disconnection or eviction.

If you have debts but they’re under control, it is worth checking whether you are paying them off in the best order, have the right debt solutions for your situation, the best interest rates and if you can pay them off more quickly.

You can also get support from National Debtline, a national charity who can give free, independent advice for people with debt problems. They have a free phone number and webchat facility on their website.

The MoneyHelper Bill Prioritiser tool can help you sort your bills and payments in the right order and tell you what you need to do if you’re struggling to pay before you miss a payment

Cut costs

Now that you know what you’re spending, you can start to see where you might be able to make cost savings and set a budget you can work with.

You can look at reducing spending on your bills, your debt, subscriptions and your shopping.

Take one area of spending at a time and work through it.

Sometimes saving money does mean cutting back on the things you enjoy for a while until you get yourself back in control. You may be able to find some savings by buying cheaper brands or cutting back.

Government Help for Households

If you’re struggling to make ends meet, the government Help for Households site has useful information to see what cost of living support you could be eligible for:

  • Help with energy bills
  • Help with childcare costs
  • Help finding work
  • Income support
  • Household costs
  • Transport costs

Save for a rainy day

If you have used the budget calculator, you will have thought about irregular but planned costs that come up throughout the year like birthday presents, Christmas, a holiday or the car MOT. But there will also be irregular but unplanned spending for emergencies like car repairs, a new washing machine or to pay your bills if you were unable to work for a time.

MoneyHelper recommend saving three months of outgoings like your rent, bills and debts, so you could cover your living costs if you were unable to work. 

This may feel like a lot of money to save, so start small and once you’re in the savings habit you may be able to increase your savings and your rainy day fund will start to grow faster.

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MoneyHelper recommend saving three months of outgoings like your rent, bills and debts, so you could cover your living costs if you were unable to work"

Keep track of your progress

Congratulations! You’ve made it this far and have already taken so many positive steps to getting back in control of your day-to-day money. If you haven’t actually started yet, don’t worry – just reading this is a positive first step.

It’s important not to treat this like a ‘once and done’. Keep track of your planned budget, adjust along the way and don’t let any set-backs get you down too much; learn from them and try again. 

Most importantly, make sure that you give yourself credit for all the milestones you are passing on your road to getting your money under control.

Key information

Tip: If you have used the budget calculator, make sure you download a copy of your completed budget or email it to yourself so you have it available to you to make changes and record how you are doing. Keeping track and giving your budget an MOT at least once a year is a good financial habit to get in to.


MoneyHelper is part of the Money and Pensions Service.