Budgeting 101

Budgeting. It’s a word that not many people like to hear. Most view it as a complicated exercise and give up before they start. It can in fact be an easy exercise, that yes takes a bit of time but is a worthwhile exercise.

The question you need to ask yourself is – do I want to be in a better financial position by the end of the year or do I still want to be chasing my tail, trying to pay bills. If you want to be in a better financial position then you really need to know where it is that you are spending your money.

Step 1: What bills do you have?

There are going to be regular bills like your car registration, birthdays, phone, power, water, rates that come in either yearly or quarterly. Food is a regular bill but is weekly. Spoiler for those who are disorganised… Christmas is a regular bill you know that you are going to spend up but Christmas happens at the same time every year as does the New Year. Then there will be irregular bills like car or house repairs, clothes, vet bills, takeaway, coffees, pub nights, movie nights and shoes etc.

Step 2: Write it down

Find the bills that you have paid over the last year if you have kept them. If you haven’t then you are going to have to rack your brains to remember the bills you paid. Rule a piece of paper up or create an Exel document with columns across the top with the months of the year and down the side the name of the bill. List them all – the regular bills and the irregular bills in the column of the month paid, and the amount paid. Don’t forget to include food, takeaway, coffees, and personal items etc.

Every time you paid a quarterly bill put it in the column for example: Power is normally a quarterly bill so you might put $300 (quarter) in February, May, August, November. Yearly bills would be put under the month paid. For weekly bills times the figure by 4 as there are normally 4 weeks to a month and put the figure in each month of the year.

If you want to live better than you do, include the things you don’t have but would like to have such as holidays and include yourself. Where would you like to go for holidays, how much approximately would that cost you, how many times would you like to go away – once a year, twice? Write it down. Pay yourself a portion to stay in savings – how much would you like to save $20, $100 a week, whatever the figure write that down. If you want to have a holiday once a year at Christmas time then put approximate figure in December’s column.

Step 3: The shock

Add the figures up and you will get how much you spent in the last year. If you have included wants as well then this figure you will be looking at. Once the figures have been added up and you have your yearly figure, then divide the total by 52 (weeks in the year) and you have the figure that you need to be bringing into the house each week.

If your income is not sufficient to cover your expenses, then you have to either increase your income or lessen you expenses. But by having everything listed, you can see where most of your money is going.

How do you increase your income? Get a second or even third job depending on what your current work situation is. Find another avenue such as pet walking, house sitting, be creative and sell stuff on ebay or etsy.

How do you lessen your income? It may be as simple as instead of buying 3 or 4 cups of coffee a day you buy 1 or 2. Buy generic items instead of brand name items for paper goods like tissues and paper towels. If go to movies or the hotel every week maybe only go once a month. Shop around for deals and use coupons where you can.

There’s a saying ‘If there’s a will, there’s a way’ and perhaps that’s the biggest challenge. Do you have the will, to make the hard decisions, in order to get a more financially secure life.

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