Learn to how budget better!
Download our free budget planner here:
Follow our step-by-step budgeting tips below to master your finances
Step 1: Figure out your income after expenses (Nett income)
The first step in creating a budget or spending plan is to figure out the amount of money you have coming in minus all your deductions. Keep in mind, however, that it’s easy to overestimate what you can afford if you think of your total salary as what you have to spend. Remember to deduct your expenses like rent, taxes, Retirement savings and groceries when creating a budget spreadsheet. Your final take-home pay after deductions is called net income, and that is the number you should use when creating your very own budget.
Step 2: Track your smart spending in detail
It’s helpful to keep track of and write down your spending so you know where you can make adjustments. Doing so will help you identify what you are spending the most money on and where it might be easiest to cut back. This is the very reason we have created a money journal- for you to keep track of your money at all times.
Begin by listing your fixed expenses. These are regulars like rent or bond repayments, utilities or vehicle installments. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to cut back on most of these, but knowing how much of your monthly income they take up can be helpful for future reference.
Next list all your variable expenses—those that may vary from month to month such as groceries, petrol and entertainment. This is an area where you might find gaps to cut back.Bank statements are a good place to start with your research and to list.
Tip: Record your daily spending with anything that’s handy—a pen and paper, an app or the Smart Money Journal.
Step 3: Set those smart money goals
Make a list of all the money goals you want to reach in the short-and long-term. Short-term goals should take no longer than 2 years to achieve. Long-term goals, such as saving for retirement or your child’s education, may take more than 10 years to reach. Remember, your goals don’t have to be set in stone, but identifying your priorities before you start planning a budget will help. For example, it may be easier to cut spending if you know your short-term goal is to reduce that anxiety provoking credit card debt.
Step 4: Make a smart plan
Use the variable and fixed expenses you listed to help you get a sense of what you’ll spend in the coming months. With your fixed expenses, you can sort of predict how much you’ll have to budget for. Use your past spending habits as a guide when trying to predict your variable expenses.
You might choose to break down your expenses into categories, between things you need to have and things you want to have. For instance, if you have to drive to work your petrol probably counts as a need. A monthly app subscription, however, may count as a want. This difference becomes important when it’s time to make changes on where to cut back.
Step 5: Adjust to having smart habits
Once you’ve done all these money moves, you have what you need to complete your smart budget. Having written down your income and spending amounts, you can start to see where you have money left over or where you can cut back so that you have money to put toward your smart goals.
Want-to-have expenses are the first area to look for spending cuts. Can you skip movie night in favor of a movie on Netflix? Try amending the numbers you’ve tracked to see how much money that frees up. If you’ve already changed your spending on wants, evaluate your spending on needs. You may need internet at home, but do you need the fastest available?
Lastly, if the numbers still aren’t adding up, you can look at changing your fixed expenses. Doing so will be much more difficult, but another way to view a “need” may just be a “hard to part with.”
Tip: Small saving amounts can add up to a lot of money, so don’t overlook the little stuff. You might be surprised at how much extra money you accumulate by making one minor adjustment at a time.
Step 6: Keep checking in on your smart budget
It’s important that you review your budget on a regular basis to be sure you are on track. You can also compare your monthly expenses to those of people similar to you and compare notes. Few elements of your budget are set in stone: You may get a promotion, your expenses may increase or you may have reached your goal and want to plan for a new one. Whatever the reason, keep checking in with your budget on a regular basis.
Download our free budget planner here:
This journal is dedicated to living your best life. We’ve thoughtfully created a beautiful, nurturing space within these pages to guide, support and hold you as you fill it out. We want to help you develop a clear vision of what your ideal financial life looks like, then give you the tools to achieve it.