If a fear of your financial state is making you want to avoid opening your bills or looking at your bank statement, you’re not alone.
Confront your fears
Many people find managing their money a challenge and can often avoid doing so. By taking control, you can change the way you feel about your finances so you can feel they are working for you in a positive way. The first step is to take an honest look at your current financial situation by reviewing your bank statements and bills to see what obligations you have so you can start to set a budget.
Try talking to a friend who has good financial habits as they could inspire you. You could also talk to a professional like a financial planner or accountant to get advice about how to plan a budget and stick to it. If you are really stressed about your financial situation, you could seek support from a qualified financial counsellor. Help is available so there’s no reason to go it alone.
Set a budget
A budget need not curb your style, rather it could tell you exactly what you have so you can spend and save with confidence. A budget shows you if you are spending more or less than you can afford. It enables you to direct your money to where it matters most, so you can stay on top of bills and start putting money towards your future goals. To set a budget, you could use one of the many budget calculators available here and the Commonwealth Government’s MoneySmart.
Take a realistic look at your daily spending habits to find one small way to save. Spending small amounts on regular items such as coffee and parking can really add up so take a look to see where you can make small changes such as bringing your own coffee or catching the bus to save money. Spending five dollars each working day on a take-away coffee adds up to approximately $1,200 each year, which you may prefer to redirect towards essentials, such as bills, or luxuries such as holidays.
Set some goals for yourself and plan how to achieve them. Having a plan will bring your savings goal to life and could help keep you on track to achieving it. Whether you want a holiday or a house take time to recognise important savings milestones along the way. Make sure you tell your friends about your plan so they can support you and help you celebrate your success when you finally reach your goal.
Create a buffer
Try stashing money into a separate account each pay day and leaving it for emergencies only. Not only is this a practical strategy, but by having funds available for unexpected expenses, you could feel better prepared and help increase your financial confidence. By resisting the urge to dip into this account unless you really have to, you could find you have enough to cover unexpected costs such as car repairs or replacing essential household items when you need to.
Don’t lose touch of your finances
Review your account statements regularly to see how you are managing your money and see if you need to adapt your budget to account for changes in income or expenses. One option could be to put all bills and statements as they arrive, in to a folder that you open at a set day every couple of weeks to review your financial situation and adjust your budget, if need be.
Pass on good habits
Teach your children how to manage money. Most children learn their financial habits from their parents so by helping them to set goals and save, you could be helping them to create their own positive financial future. Perhaps give them pocket money in return for helping around the house, which can be placed in a piggy bank and saved for a special purchase of their choice. Teaching them to save for a special item will help them understand the value of money and give them a sense of achievement when they finally buy something with their own money.