Starting a budget for yourself or your family is useful to keep track of your regular expenses, how much you’re earning and spending, and can help you start saving for a goal.
Try these 3 simple steps to start your budget:
  1. Add your income
  2. Subtract your expenses
  3. Balance your budget
Add your income
Include your salary, Centrelink or other government benefits, and interest that you earn on savings accounts.
Subtract your expenses
Expenses include basic necessities such as rent or home loan repayments, utilities, council rates, car registration, phone bills, insurance and school fees. Also include your regular purchases, such as a daily takeaway coffee, your weekly grocery bill and cigarettes.
Keep in mind the monthly, quarterly and annual fees associated with credit cards and other personal debt, as these are often charged as lump sum payments and can hit your pocket hard if you haven’t planned for it in your budget.
Balance your budget
Review your income and expenses. Do you have any money left over for savings? Or are you getting into debt? Weigh up whether you can live without some luxuries, or ‘wants’, such as pay TV, daily coffees, alcohol or cigarettes. In many instances you may be able to simply switch to a cheaper (or free!) alternative, such as riding a bike to work, to help you boost your savings.
Adding a goal
To save for a specific goal, such as a holiday or home loan deposit, you can breakdown what you need to save per month and add it to your budget. Other important life changing events, such as getting married or having a baby, can significantly change your budget and savings plan. See more tips on saving.
Are you unsure how much of your income should be allocated to your expenses? Try Budget Test, it’s a free downloadable calculator to help you work out how much you want to spend on various expenses.
Moneysmart’s Budget Planner tool helps you to record your income and expenses over a weekly, fortnightly, monthly or an annual basis. Use it for free online or downloaded as an Excel file. Allow approximately 20 minutes to complete it.
For advice on managing and getting out of debt, see Moneysmart’s ‘Managing Debts’ section for helpful tips and directories to Financial Councellors and legal services.
For advice on long-term planning, a Financial Planner can help you assess and advise you on how you can achieve your goals.

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