Use the 'Your budget' layout inside our planners to understand the main expenses that will fall over the year, and how much money you need each week to meet these.
It is tempting to spend what you earn every fortnight or put things you want on your credit card without considering what you actually needed from that period to pay expenses that may not be billed until later in the year.
In this guide, we'll walk you through the process of using our simple budget planner effectively that comes built into our planners.
Go through your last 12 months of bank statements make sure that you have thought of all your ongoing and predictable living expenses (e.g. mobile phone, rent/mortgage, health / car / home & contents insurance, car registration, licence, rates, electricity) and write them down in the first column of our ‘Your budget’ layout under the heading ‘Expense’.
Write down groceries too – your banking app should be tracking how much you spend on this and have your average spend each week already to go if you have a look into the money tracking features they now all offer. If not, or if you pay in cash, then look back on your last four weeks of shopping to find the average.
Be honest with yourself if you have other ‘cost of living’ expenses that are predictable and will not change even with financial pressure, for example dying your hair or getting your nails done. If these items do not budge from your budget no matter what else you would sacrifice, then include these in your expenses.
Write down the amount of each bill in the next column – either the amount that you paid the last time that you paid it (e.g., rent) or the average of what you paid over a longer period (e.g., groceries).
Write down the frequency of paying that bill or expense in the next column. For example, did you pay that amount weekly? Fortnightly? Monthly? Bi-monthly? Quarterly? Six-monthly? Annually?
Convert the amount of the expense to an annual expense and write it in the ‘Annual’ column. For example: if it was paid weekly multiply by 52; if it was annual, write it out in full again in that column.
Once you have written down all your expenses and converted them into annual expenses, add them together and write in the ‘Total’ field underneath the table.
Divide your annual total into a weekly amount by dividing by 52 and writing that into the ‘weekly expense’ field.
Go to your most recent tax return and write down the amount you received after tax and write this into the ‘Annual income’ field.
Divide your annual income by 52 and record this in the ‘Weekly income’ field.
Weekly savings goal
Set an amount that you want to save each week to invest in your future (or prepare for an emergency) and write this in the ‘Weekly savings goal’ field.
Weekly discretionary funds
Subtract your weekly expenses and savings goal from your weekly income, and this is the amount that you have available for discretionary spending each week.
Allocate a portion of your remaining funds for discretionary spending. This category includes entertainment, hobbies, and other non-essential expenses. While the economy might limit your discretionary spending, it is important to allocate a reasonable amount for maintaining a balanced and enjoyable life.
Want to do more with your money?
Set financial goals and track them
Depending on your financial situation, set short-term and long-term financial goals for your savings. Short-term goals could include paying off debt or saving for a vacation, while long-term goals might involve buying a home.
Set a financial goal, and track your progress to meeting this by using our 'Flexible trackers' layout to colour in circles each time you meet a small step towards one of your goals. What gets measured gets monitored
Create a layout for your expenses too
Recreate the ‘Your budget’ layout but as a ‘Your expenses’ layout using a blank page at the back of the planner. As expenses are paid, write them down, and at the end of the year compare the two to see if you had any expenses you had not planned for when you did your budget.
Remember that a budget is not static—it's a living document that should be monitored and adjusted regularly. Keep track of your actual spending and compare it to your budgeted amounts.
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Watch a tutorial on YouTube