Where do I start with budgeting?

1 September 2021

Why you need a personal budget

Welcome to budgeting basics. A healthy relationship with money and overall financial feel-good starts with the very basics – budgeting! Most important ‘adulting’ tasks are somewhat dull and get pushed onto the backburner, but future-you will thank you for taking the time to prioritise your financial wellbeing and preparing a personal budget. Let’s dive in.

What is a personal budget and why is it important?

Budgeting methods vary, but to start with you need a breakdown of your incomings (what you earn) and outgoings (what you spend) over a set period. Knowing these figures and analysing your spending habits then allows you to take control of your financial situation and work on improving it by setting yourself a personal budget.

Unless the Lotto ball drops your numbers (and the likelihood of that is minimal), budgeting is the only way to achieve your dreams of buying a home, or a houseboat, a campervan, or a 1978 Luke Skywalker action figure with double-telescoping lightsabre to add to your Star Wars collection (at a cost of $25,000 in mint condition you won’t be playing with it). The truth is, even with a Lotto win, personal budgeting is a must as more money in the bank simply doesn’t equal financial literacy.

Car and Home

Assessing your situation and spending habits

Assessing every cent you spend (including that controversial smashed avo on sourdough for Sunday brunch) allows you to divide necessary spending (your rent or mortgage payments, electricity bill, credit card payments etc) from discretionary spending (the smashed avo).

Where are the leaks that are allowing money to drain away? Too many impulse buys using buy now, pay later schemes? Too many food deliveries when you did, in fact, already have food at home?  Look at plugging them up. This doesn’t mean you can’t get takeaway occasionally or buy those to-die-for ripped denims, you just have to think first and ask yourself if they fit in your budget before you flash the plastic.

Another important item to look for is the amount of interest you are paying on borrowed funds. Could you refinance your mortgage at a lower interest rate to reduce your home loan repayments? Could you consolidate your debts into one low-interest repayment? There are loads of ways to save money if you do your research. These are all questions you should ask your financial advisor to determine what’s best for your situation.

Setting your goals

Your first goal is to be able to always pay your bills on time so you don’t harm your credit rating (or increase your stress levels).

Next, if you haven’t already got at least enough money to live on comfortably for a month stashed away for a rainy day, then that should be your next savings goal.

Once you have that backup fund, you can reward yourself. Whether it’s a week camping on a beach somewhere warm or a more accessibly priced Star Wars collectible than the Luke Skywalker figure above, set yourself an achievable goal to begin with. Once you’ve achieved that goal, you’ll feel proud of that success and can set yourself a bigger goal. Setting goals gives you something good to look forward to and makes sticking to a budget much easier.

Research different budgeting methods

There’s a host of different budgeting tips and budgeting methods out there on the internet. Take a look and you’ll find templates, apps and more to get you set up. There are many methods, but the principles are the same: set goals, allocate money accordingly and monitor your incomings and outgoings. Methods range from simple to sophisticated, from spreadsheets to comprehensive apps designed to make your life easier. Testing several methods will give you the best indication of what suits your lifestyle and time commitment to budgeting.

Budgeting Basics

Automate your savings

Pay yourself first! Many financial institutions have an option for you to have a weekly or monthly amount automatically moved to a dedicated savings account, preferably as you get paid to avoid temptation. This is one of the most effective ways to watch your savings grow, as its automated and out of sight, out of mind.

You’ll be surprised how a little bit of adulting around budgeting will make your relationship with money a little more positive and empowering. The rewards definitely outweigh the initial effort!

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Important Information

The content on this page is general information only, it is not intended to be advice or a substitute for professional financial advice. It does not take into account your situation, needs or objectives and you should consider whether it’s appropriate for your situation and seek professional advice.

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