Do you ever get to the end of the fortnight and wonder what happened to your account balance? If you read between the $5 here and $10 there, your bank transactions reveal all your spending secrets and offer clues to help solve the mystery of the missing money.
It’s all too easy to click ‘yes’ for the monthly subscriptions and for these smaller costs to add up to a hefty sum.
It’s a frightening prospect to consider just how much money we are spending without realising it or even needing to.
Checks and balances
Start by looking at all transactions on your accounts including credit cards, savings and transactional accounts.
Identify the wants versus the needs, then list all the necessary costs, such as your rent or mortgage, groceries, motor vehicle loans, insurances, child care costs and utility bills.
Use these fixed costs as the foundation of your budget and always include a savings component, no matter how small. Savings should be included in your first tier of budget planning even if only for the sake of having a pool of money to manage any emergencies.
With some of these costs there’s always the opportunity to review contracts to ensure you are getting the best deal. Do your research and ask for a better deal or switch providers, but watch out for introductory discounts that may expire after a specified time period.
After revising all your baseline budget items and the best deals you can achieve, you should then identify all the extras you are tipping your earnings into and shed those that aren’t required. Combine those that you can and work through the remainder to make sure you are getting the best value for money.
It’s one thing to write the budget, but another thing entirely to stick to it. Foolproof your efforts and set up automatic transactions so the work is done for you. Have the disposable income – grocery, petrol and entertainment money – go into a separate account that you use on a day to day basis.
Taking a good look at your regular expenses and recognising where you can cut back without sacrificing the things you enjoy in life can be the first step to developing a budget that you’ll want to stick with. There is little point in setting unrealistic goals or cutting out all of the fun because it will make your budget that much harder to follow.
Finding financial products that fit your needs and your lifestyle can also go a long way towards helping you keep your finances on track.
The advice in this article is general in nature. We understand everyone’s circumstances are different and recommend speaking to your financial advisor or accountant when considering your financial requirements.