How Much Should You Budget for Gambling?

Written By: Mike Lovatt
Last Updated: November 3, 2023

Gambling is one of the most popular types of entertainment available to adults. It also comes with the convenience of being available 24/7 (depending on your location), thanks to the multitude of online gambling websites around.

Not only is gambling fun, but it is also one of the few forms of entertainment where it doesn’t have to cost you anything. In fact, it could earn you money – provided you win.

If you don’t win, gambling can quickly rack up a cost you may not be prepared for. In fact, in the UK, it is estimated that 0.5% of the population (or around 246,000 people) have problems with gambling and don’t know when enough is enough – leading to high debt levels.

However, the issue of overspending in pursuit of a big win can easily be avoided. All that is needed is a budget that you can stick to that allows you to know exactly how much money you can afford to spend.

Gambling in your budget protects you, your finances, and your family and makes the activity more fun – without worrying if you’ve overspent. While knowing exactly how much to budget may be tricky, the tips below will help you figure out how much you should set aside for your next bet.

Work Out Your Disposable Income

The first thing to do when setting a gambling budget is to know exactly how much you have to budget. To do this, you need to know your monthly disposable income after you’ve paid your living costs.

To work out your disposable income, you’ll need a total budget for everything you spend in a month. Considering you’re planning to make a gambling budget, creating an entire budget shouldn’t be a problem because it is just an expansion of your gambling budget.

A complete budget considers your net income (the amount you get after all your deductions have been made) and all the expenses you plan for in a month. Some will be fixed amounts (like rent or a mortgage), while others may fluctuate (like food).

Most experts agree that the following 20 things should be included in your budget:

  • Rent/mortgage
  • Utilities (water and power)
  • Food/groceries
  • Savings
  • Clothing
  • Travel/fuel and car payments
  • Insurance
  • Medical costs or insurance (including prescriptions)
  • Subscriptions (such as streaming services or the internet)
  • Banking fees
  • Personal care products (toiletries)
  • Gifts (e.g. birthday gifts for friends and family)
  • Charitable giving (including religious tithes)
  • Debt servicing, such as student loans or credit accounts
  • Education fees
  • Household expenses such as laundry and cleaning materials
  • Household maintenance
  • Registration fees (e.g. car license registration)
  • Memberships (e.g. labour union fees and gym contracts)
  • Entertainment

These categories should also be further split into essentials, savings, and wants (or entertainment). Essentials are recommended to be at least 50% of your budget, savings 20%, and the remaining 30% can be allocated to entertainment (which includes subscriptions).

Amongst these things are items that use your disposable income. Calculating your disposable income can be done by taking your net pay and subtracting the first two splits – essentials and savings. This 70% is a set amount that won’t include many fluctuations, and you can safely budget the entire amount each month.

The remaining 30% (allocated for entertainment) can be seen as your disposable income. This is money you can choose to spend however you please, and it won’t affect your overall finances if you spend it in a different area of your budget. Gambling – surprise, surprise! – will fall under this entertainment section.

Gambling Budget

While many people will have varying estimates of what your gambling budget should be, the truth is that it is entirely dependent on you. Your only form of entertainment may be gambling, while others may gamble, attend concerts, and go to movies regularly.

Regardless of how you spend money on entertainment, the most commonly accepted budget for gambling is that it should account for no more than 30% of your entertainment budget (which is 30%). This will account for roughly 9% of your total budget.

Here’s a quick example if you earn a net income of £5,000 per month. Of this, £2,500 will be allocated to essentials such as transport, food, and housing. A further £1,000 will go toward savings for the future or a rainy day. That will leave £1,500 as disposable income for entertainment.

Allocating 30% of this £1,500 (or 9% of your net income) will give you £450 to gamble. But if your essentials exceed 50%, this will change this amount, and you’ll have slightly less to play with.

Likewise, if you enjoy gambling and tend to participate more than any other form of entertainment, you can easily adjust the 30% to a higher number. This will allow you to spend more at the expense of different ways to have fun. 

Simple Rules

As mentioned earlier, the budget you allocate to gambling is entirely up to you and your other expenses. However, you should follow a few rules regardless of the amount you set aside to try your luck.

Spend Wisely

Place your bets wisely to ensure you can play for longer. Don’t just play on max bet, hoping it will get you a big win more quickly. Also, search around for the best deal when gambling. Casinos that offer sign up bonus rewards are a great way to get more out of your quid.

Be Strict

Know what your budget is and stick to it. Even if you lose all your budgeted cash, don’t spend more expecting to win it back. Once you’ve hit your limit, have the control to stop playing until your next payday.

Watch Your Emotions

Our emotions can easily cause us to throw budgets out the window. If you’ve had a bad day and know your gambling budget for the month is spent, don’t spend more to feel better. Instead, find a different activity like watching TV or speaking with friends – which costs nothing – or try placing free bets online to experience some of the thrills of gambling without digging into your savings.

Mike Lovatt

Mike has over 14 years of experience with online sports betting, having used countless online betting sites. Mike previously provided football betting tips on goals and corners in Facebook groups before starting his own betting website. A huge football fan, Mike has been writing betting guides and football betting advice for years.

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