3 Quick Steps To Set A Budget

It's only fair to share...

Do you find yourself wondering where on earth your money goes each week? If your cash seems to slip through your fingers, you could probably benefit from a budget. It may sound a little scary, but a budget will help you understand where your money goes, help you control and plan for your expenses, and even put some cash away to save for those little extras.

Getting started

Step 1: Preparing your budget

A great first step to creating a budget is to analyse your spending – take a look at where your cash is going.

  • Carry a small notebook in your wallet or handbag, save your receipts and for a week or two make a note of every dollar you spend, from your morning coffee and paper, public transport fares, petrol and tolls, groceries, meals and movie tickets, rent or mortgage payments…everything! If you spend it, write it down.
  • Don’t forget to include less regular expenses like car rego, insurance and utility bills.
  • Check out the TrackMySpend app, which can help do all this for you.
  • Either way, you’ll soon start to get a good idea of where your money is going, and perhaps identify where you need to cut back, and what you might be able to do without to help save some money.
  • Don’t forget to budget an amount for fun, leisure and personal expenses – while it’s great to aim to save a little, don’t make your budget so tight that you won’t be able to stick to it.

Enter your expenses into a budget planner to calculate how much cash you need for a given time period, such as weekly or monthly.

The next step is to add in all the money that you receive or are paid over the time period. This could include your pay from your full-time or part-time job, any casual work, your pension, government benefits and child support payments.

Step 2: Using your budget

  • Print your completed budget plannerand keep it somewhere handy.
  • Or use the handy TrackMySpend app, which allows you to track your spending and progress against your budget, nominate spending limits, and create expense reminders to be sent as text messages to your phone.
  • However you prefer to view and use your budget, check it before you go shopping or on an outing, and stick to that amount.

To help stay on top of things, it’s a good idea to redo your budget every 3 to 6 months or when there are significant changes to your income or expenses, like getting or losing a job, buying or selling a car or house, or expanding your family.

Step 3: Getting help with your budget

Starting a budget can be a pretty tough task, especially if you’re on a low income or have never done a budget before. But the good news is that once you’ve gotten started the hardest part is done. You’ll find that it does get easier, and you’ll get better at it as you go along. If you’re having trouble getting started, try to get help from a trusted friend who is good with money. Budgeting is a skill that anyone can learn. The more you do it, the easier it will be to stay on top of