2015 has arrived and for many of us so has a new set of financial goals, challenges and boundaries. The smartest and most effective way to avoid the hazards of the previous year is to get yourself working with a new budget that helps you action everything you hope to achieve and potentially more. In order for your budget to be effective, you’ve got to make sure you’re working with a realistic outlook in mind; we’ve all endured the experience of aiming too high and having the wheels fall off in the first few weeks, despite our best intentions.
Here we’ll outline some great ways to make your budget a financially liberating experience rather than a miserable prison you inevitably plan escaping from with the use of yet another credit card.
You got this. Paying an outside company to do your budget for you might not be an effective use of your income and might lead to a very restrictive lifestyle you’re unlikely to enjoy.
Start by looking backwards
Rather than start off by thinking about what you want to spend, look back at what you do spend. Check through a month’s worth of statements/receipts to see where your money really goes. For example, you might only be budgeting for one meal out a week but you mightn’t realize that your busy lifestyle means this is something that happens more like four times a week. Compromises are good, drastic unmaintainable changes are not.
Use a Budget Planner and think long-term
There are plenty of great online budget planners that can be tailored to best suit your lifestyle. Choose between a weekly, fortnightly, monthly or even yearly budget, but make sure you include and average out one-off yearly expenses that often throw our budgets out such as rates, rego and, depending on your employment status, any potential future tax contributions that aren’t immediately obvious. For a number of effective tools to track your spending and create a great new budget, click here.
Use separate accounts
Set up separate accounts linked to your main bank account and as soon as you’re paid move your cash according to your budget into the different labeled accounts. Having specific accounts for funds needed outside of everyday spending is an effective way to prevent yourself from overspending as your available immediate balance is much more accurate in its visibility.
Make one of these accounts flexible
A “flexible money” account might be a good otion. If you place 10-20 per cent of your income in this account, when expenses outgrow your predictions or random costs arise, you should be covered by this buffer.
Don’t burn your leftovers
If you find yourself with a few extra dollars at the end of your regular budget period, don’t feel the need to immediately spend them for the sake of it. Open a high interest saving account and move the funds across at the end of each pay cycle. You’ll find what might have just been a cheap pair of shoes or an extra take out meal could turn into a tangible fund for a holiday or a new vehicle.
Spending doesn’t always mean buying
Look at ways you can reduce huge one-off outlays that will throw off your budget. In 2015, more and more people are considering becoming users of services rather than making large investments in ownership. For example, Go Get is now a popular alternative to owning your own car and renting items such as computers, phones, TV and white goods that are often usurped by new technology each year is also a way to avoid breaking the budget for families as well as small businesses.
Revise and revise again
Every three months, start again at step #1. Incomes, expenses, needs and wants are fluid in nature and a smart budgeter will always revisit and improve their budget regularly.
*FlexiRent does not provide legal, tax or accounting advice. See your tax advisor for details.