Do you struggle to find the inspiration to create and stick to a budget? Don’t worry, most of us do.
That’s why we’ve compiled some of the best tips for you to be able to identify “money leaks” and keep your spending on track.
Getting started: Building my budget
To begin your budget, you have to know exactly how much money you have coming in, versus how much you have going out in the form of financial commitments, major bills and living expenses.
If you need some help getting started, follow these simple steps:
Step 1: Record your income
This will include all regular income you receive from paid work, government payments such as Austudy, and any income you receive from investments (i.e. interest from money you have in a term deposit).
Only include regular income in your budget calculations. If you make extra income from overtime or get quarterly bonuses, it’s best to exclude these- you may miss out on your bonus next quarter, and overtime can fluctuate dramatically (or stop altogether) depending on a whole range of factors.
Step 2: List your expenses
Fixed expenses are those that stay relatively stable each month and take up a big chunk of your income. They include major living expenses like rent, food, loan repayments, insurances, and food.
They also include other regular expenses such as transport, petrol, regular medical appointments or medication. Subscriptions of any kind – whether it’s a gym membership or your monthly Netflix fix – also need to be included.
To really get on top of your finances you need to account for ALL of your expenses. If this sounds overwhelming, don’t panic!
Just follow the steps below to track down those money leaks...
1: Grab a piece of paper and divide it into four sections. Head each section Week 1, Week 2, Week 3 and Week 4.
2: Get your bank statement/ myMOVE app and bring up the previous months’ worth of transactions.
3: Look at transactions in the first 7 days of the month. In the “Week 1” section, write down every expense that isn’t accounted for in your fixed expenses. That means every coffee, every unscheduled shoe purchase, and every $50 withdrawal from your local pub that happened in that week.
4: Repeat this process with the transactions in the second, third and fourth weeks of the month
When you’ve finished, add up the total expenses for each week.
Step 3: Add up your Income vs. Expenses
The next step is to total your monthly income and your monthly expenses. Your aim is to see your end result showing more income than expenses.
Managing my budget
If your expenses are LESS than your income- congratulations! It’s time to start channelling those extra funds into a high interest savings account and start saving for a rainy day or your next big ticket item.
If your expenses are MORE than your income- don’t stress! It’s time to start working on ways which you can reduce your expenses. A good place to start is with your variable expenses. Most of the time there is room here to cut back on non-essentials so that you’re living within your means.
The great thing about having a budget is that you know exactly where your money is going which makes it a lot easier to see where you can cut back to get your expenses under control.
It could be as simple as cutting down on your barista made coffee by bringing your own to work. Or it may mean taking public transport when you’d usually catch an Uber, or cancelling your gym membership and exercising outside instead.
Our tips for sticking to your budget
Review your budget regularly.
Budgets are not something you should simply ‘set and forget’. It is important to review your budget on a regular basis to make sure you’re staying on track. By doing this you’ll also be able to identify any ‘money leaks’ which may have crept in.
Allocate part of your budget for fun!
It’s a good idea to allocate some money for entertainment- whether that’s a weekly trip to the movies, dinner out once a week or a hobby you love. Being unrealistic with your budget will mean you’re far more likely to throw in the towel and go back to your old spending habits.
Research shows that it takes two months to form a new habit, so set yourself the challenge to build and stick to a budget over the next couple of months - you might surprise yourself on what you are able to achieve.
Do you have any other budgeting tips? Let us know!
This blog post is for general information purposes only and is not intended as financial or professional advice. It does not have regard to the financial situation or needs of any reader and must not be relied upon as financial product or other professional advice. You should seek your own independent financial, legal and taxation advice before making any decision about any action in relation to the material in this article.
Railways Credit Union trading as MOVE ABN 91 087 651 090. AFSL/ Australian Credit License number 234 536 | ABN 91 087 651 090.