The very first step to having financial security and savings to fall back on is having a budget. The next step (and the one that feels a lot harder) is sticking to it!
Many of us follow tips on how to budget but still fail to reach our savings goal. To prevent this from happening, start with the basics but add a few ‘ninja moves’ that will improve your chances of success.
How To Budget: The Basics
Before you create your budget, you need to be clear on how much money you earn each week or each month.
This figure could fluctuate when you’re in a casual job. If this is the case, use the amount you know you are paid, no matter what. Any extra cash can be used as surplus and added to your savings.
If you don’t get paid holidays, remember to take this into account and revise your income to reflect your monthly average.
Once you are clear on your income, it’s time to look at your expenses.
Break your monthly living costs into the following that apply to you:
- Rent payments or mortgage repayments
- Insurance (car/property/life etc.)
- Utilities (phone/electricity/water etc.)
- Loan and credit card repayments
- Vehicle operating expenses
- Petrol/public transport expenses
- Memberships & subscriptions
- Entertainment & gifts
- Medical and health expenses
Ideally, the total of these will be less than the amount you earn. If not, it’s time to review your expenses. Focus on eliminating debt or find a way to make more money.
#BudgetHack: Avoid bill shock by dividing annual bills like car registration into monthly amounts and including them in your regular expenses. Make sure you put some money aside each month so you are able to pay when these bills crop up.
How To Budget: The Extras
Include room in your budget for two extra items;
- Unexpected expenses
No matter how hard you try to avoid it, there will always be costs you haven’t planned for. They may be extra medical bills, an impromptu weekend away with friends or an unexpected car repair. If you have some funds unallocated each month, you won’t feel the sting or be tempted to cash out your savings account.
Should a miracle happen, and you don’t have any unexpected setbacks, you can save the extra money or treat yourself to something you enjoy.
When it comes to your savings, aim to specify a figure rather than simply putting away the money you have leftover at the end of the month. This will help you reach your financial goals much sooner.
#BudgetHack: Create an additional savings account (or bucket, as some call it) and have the money automatically withdrawn shortly after you get paid. This way you’re less likely to spend on non-essential items.
How to Budget: The ‘Ninja’ Moves
Budget ninjas rely on automatic withdrawals and set up different bank accounts so they can stay in control of their money. For example, set up memberships, subscriptions and regular bills as direct debit payments that are withdrawn soon after you’re paid. This way you’ll always have the money you need to pay them…. and if you can’t pay for a subscription or bill, you’ll know it’s time to get rid of the membership or rearrange your budget.
Most banks will allow you to have multiple accounts for free. Set up as many as you like, e.g. A savings account, a daily expenses account, a bills and subscriptions account and an emergency funds account.
If you’re really serious about being a budgeting ninja, you’ll take the time to track your spending. Do this every day for a month, either using an app or a notepad. At the end, take a look at the reality vs your budget. You may be surprised to realise you’re spending a lot more in some areas than you thought.
Budget ninjas also learn to say ‘no’ to themselves and others. Instead of saying “I can’t afford it” when tempted with an unnecessary expense, they say “I’m not going to spend money on that” or “It’s not in my budget this month”.
Saying no takes a certain amount of self-discipline but will break the habit of impulse buying.
“It’s not how much money you make, but how much money you keep, how hard it works for you, and how many generations you keep it for.” – Robert Kiyosaki
The final budget ninja move when it comes to knowing how to budget is to have a clear plan for the money you are putting aside. Perhaps it’s a new vehicle, a home deposit or an overseas trip. If you have a figure and a timeframe in mind, you’ll be more motivated to get there.
#BudgetHack: Budgets aren’t ‘set and forget’. Review your budget every quarter. You may find expenses have crept in or dropped off.
Read more: Top five tips to improve your credit rating
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Disclaimer: The information above is of a general nature only and does not consider your personal objectives, financial situation or particular needs. You should consider seeking independent legal, financial, taxation or other advice to check how the information relates to your particular circumstances. We do not accept responsibility for any loss arising from the use of, or reliance on, the information.