Keep Track of the Expenditure
According to MoneySmart, it is not only spending significant amounts of money that can get us into financial trouble, even the small expenditures can end up costing us more.
It is essential to track our everyday expenditures. It helps to live within our means and our bank statement shows where all our money goes.
We then compare our expenditure against our budget to identify the spending we need to cut off.
Stick to a Budget
A budget is a list of items and how you intend to spend your money or income in the future.
Here’s what it means.
A well-written budget helps you develop a plan towards fostering a saving culture.
Here’s a guide on how to draw a simple budget:
Bring together all the financial details – Gather information about all your income and then get all the details about how you are spending the money, i.e., bills.
Calculate how much you earn – Calculate how much money you make and the frequency it comes in, i.e., monthly/weekly, etc.
Calculate the expenses – Check through all the statements and bills and note down the monthly expenses. Try to achieve accuracy as much as possible. Estimate the costs that fluctuate. Add all the expenses to establish the monthly expenditure.
Does the actual budget balance? – Write the monthly income and total expected expenditure side by side.
Income – Expenses = Actual Result
Evaluate the status and set appropriate goals – Now that you have a clear picture of what your financial situation is; you need to determine whether you are satisfied with the results. Then, make any desired changes if you need to. Then formulate a list of the goals you want to achieve with the new budget.
Formulate a new budget – On a new document, write the income at the top of the page. When you’re satisfied with the result, then this is the budget to use. It will set out what you can spend and on which items.
Pay Off Any Credit Card Debt
With interests going as high as 25% or more in Australia, using a credit card may hinder you from reaching your saving goals.
Make payments through direct debit and pay more than the minimum amount required to avoid more interest.
You don’t necessarily need to use a credit card, but you can choose to withdraw the cash you need for a specific period.
That said, this would only apply to the people who pay off their credit card debt in good time and in full.
Find a credit card that offers cash-back programs to redeem rewards every few months and channel them towards your savings account.
Create a Long-Term Saving Plan
When access to money is restricted, having a savings account gives high-interest rates instead of the primary transaction accounts.
Savings accounts offer a way to put some of our income aside, if not all of it. It is the amount left after you’ve taken care of all expenses and paid our taxes.
You can ward off the temptation of eating into your savings by creating automated transfers into the savings account.
Kylie Travers reiterates that rounding down the account balance ensures extra cash goes into the savings account.
For example, if you check your account and it has $109.35, you could round it down to $100 and transfer the extra $9.35 to a savings account.
In a few months, this will result in a few hundreds of dollars in the savings account without much effort.
Focus on Recurrent Expenditure
While the little bits help, the large recurrent expenditures provide ground for increasing the savings.
Check the expenditure in a year and estimate how much will be for savings. You can choose to refinance the home loan, compare insurance providers or services you pay for.
Spend some time going over the finances in a bid to save more money.
For example, if you choose a low-cost energy retailer, you could lower your energy bill even by half.
Even with internet and mobile service plans, ask for the cheapest plans. They will never volunteer information about more affordable methods to customers who don’t ask.
Control Impulse Buying
ATMs, online shopping, and credit cards have made spending easier, especially on what we don’t need.
How often we fall into temptation solely depends on our will. Studies show that self-control is like a muscle. It wears out if not put to use.
If you spot something you’d like to have, says Canstar, give it a day before buying the item. Give it 30 days when it’s not a necessary purchase. In this case, you realize that the urge could fade away.
Another way to work it out is to see how many work hours the purchase will represent. You may end up feeling the purchase is not even worth that time.
The ABS indicates that food is the second-largest category of spending in our households. It comes after housing costs but before transport costs.
The top tips for food budgeting are:
Critically look at the receipts and estimate the cost per unit of the items commonly purchased in the house.
Keep a daily food diary and keep a calculation of the cost for each meal.
Keep an inventory of the fridge, freezer, and pantry.
It is best to first consume all the food in the house to save money.
Avoid Poverty Mentality
Most people consider the use of money and other resources carefully as a good skill. However, as much as this is an excellent way to save, we need to be aware not to be too frugal.
Eventually, we get ahead with our financial issues by earning, saving, and investing. If we focus too much on groceries or utility bills, we are at risk of poverty.
If we have a poverty mentality, we constantly think about the shortage of money or lack thereof.
It is the kind of behaviour that tends to bring self-limiting ideas.
In contrast, people who believe in prosperity link their decisions to the benefits of a specific action.
Smooth the Bills
Bill smoothing is for utility providers (water, electricity, gas) to make payments monthly or fortnightly. Thus, you don’t have to pay the whole bill in one instance.
It takes care of those with tight budgets from having a lot of debt and paying too many interests due to late payments.
Richard recommends adopting a similar approach with your day-to-day finances: regularly keeping money aside for the hefty expenditure.
It allows you to save money to clear specific bills on an annual basis instead of every month. Take advantage of any discounts given for premiums and bulk payments.
Sum up all the annual bills and save up for the bills in advance.
Practice Becoming a ‘Promiscuous Consumer.’
Brand loyalists beware…
The chances are that the business owner knows that you’re not price-sensitive compared to prospecting customers.
The vendors charge non-competitive prices because they perceive less sensitivity to price.
Be on the lookout for a vendor with better prices without allowing emotional connection blind you. Showing that you can easily opt for cheaper options may prompt the vendor to offer a better deal.
If there is no upgrade or a discount, do not despair. There are other vendors out there willing to do so much more.
Managing your finances is not only for short-term goals but also long-term goals.
A budget will give an insight into whether we are spending less or more than our earnings.
It enables us to save, review its pros & cons, and see how it affects our family life.
If there are parts where we are unsure about the budgeting plan, then we can double-check all the calculations or seek professional advice.
1. How Should a Beginner Start Budgeting?
A budgeting journey begins by; set the financial goals, examine how you spend money, and set up the budget.
2. How Do We Make a Monthly Budget?
Budgeting keeps the priorities in check. Work out the income against expenditure. Always put into consideration the basic expenses and the extras we can do without.
3. How Do We Budget Properly?
Have realistic expectations when formulating the budget. Stick to what will help in balancing the income and expenditure as well as allow us to save.
Track how often you get to spend money by writing it down or using an app.
4. How Do We Budget On Low Income?
Set up a budget first.
There are budgeting apps to help you track your spending, and recurring bills. They help you monitor your overall financial big picture, your spending, and your savings.
5. How Do We Make A Budget Spreadsheet?
Need a customized budget? Create it on excel from scratch. Here’s how to go about it.
- Open a blank workbook.
- Set up an income tab.
- Automate the spreadsheet with formulas.
- Add your expenses.
- Add sections as needed.
Once we have created all the required sections, we need to keep track of the running balance. For a detailed look at how to make the budget spreadsheet, check this out.
7. How Much Money Should We Set Aside for Food Each Month?
The average food spend per Australian is $4740 per year or $91/week or $13/day.
Therefore, if you are trying to put together a weekly food budget, a rule of thumb is to allocate approximately $100/week per person in your household.