Let’s be honest: spending money is fun. What’s not to love about getting swipe-happy at Sephora or ‘surprising’ future you with gifts purchased during an online shopping binge? You know what’s not so fun? Being the person who holds up the queue at Woolworths when your card gets declined, because you already spent all your money on fun stuff. The thing is, most of us have good intentions when it comes to our finances. We know we should be putting away a decent portion of our paycheck for the future. But sometimes, our need for instant gratification wins and we find ourselves splurging our house deposit money on a new pair of Lululemon tights.
The good news is, spending and saving don’t have to be mutually exclusive. You can actually do both at the same time! It’s all about taking control of your own finances by creating a budget for yourself. For many of us, the ‘B word’ is enough to elicit fear, dread or at the very least, an eye roll. Or, maybe you’re like me and you’ve set up a budget (those good intentions, again!) but have a lot of trouble sticking to it. But creating a realistic budget that is tailored to your specific needs and situations is actually the most efficient way to reach your financial goals.
Trying to save without a budget is like playing soccer without a goal post: you’re not going to know whether you’ve scored! It’s not about restricting yourself, it’s about putting boundaries in place so you can still do the things you love while achieving your financial goals
Read on for Canna’s top 5 tips for creating a realistic budget you’ll actually be able to stick to.
1. Stay calm
Just like you shouldn’t grocery shop when you’re hungry, it turns out you shouldn’t create your budget when you’re emotional!
It’s important to be in a calm and level-headed state of mind when you sit down to do your budget. I often tell my clients to do it with a glass of wine, as it can be quite confronting to realise how much you’re actually spending!
2. Do your preparation
Make sure you’ve got everything you need in front of you before you set out to make your budget. That includes a template, a list of your expenses, a calculator (you can use your phone, just put it into flight mode so you’re not distracted) and preferably at least three months of bank statements.
It’s a good idea to have your bank statements in front of you, because people often forget or underestimate certain expenses. Cross-referencing your list against your bank statements will ensure that your budget is as accurate as possible. I also recommend using a pre-populated budget template like the ones on my website, as this will help jog your memory about expenses you may have forgotten.
3. Be honest with yourself
Sticking your head in the sand about your spending is only going to set yourself up for failure.
You really need to have a truthful conversation about your spending with yourself. Are there areas where you could cut down on luxury purchases, like takeaway coffees or unnecessary app subscriptions? If you do decide to get rid of or reduce these purchases, find out how much you’ll be saving and put the equivalent amount directly into a seperate savings account. This will ensure that you’re not just swapping it for another luxury purchase!
4. Set a wide buffer
Unexpected expenses are always going to come up, that’s just life. For this reason, Canna recommends rounding your expenses up when you’re creating your budget.
If your internet bill is $50, I recommend rounding it up to $80 in your budget. This allows you to be a bit more flexible and gives you a wider buffer for when unexpected purchases arise.
5. Check in regularly
Your budget shouldn’t just be a temporary thing you use when you’re trying to get back on track or out of debt. It should be a tool you continue to use long term, no matter what your life circumstances are. Even wealthy people use budgets – it’s probably half the reason they’re rich!
You should be reguarly engaging with and revisiting your budget. Make sure you’re constantly updating your expenses and sliding in new ones as they come up. You should have your budget set up in a way that makes you feel empowered and motivated. That way, you’ll actually want to keep using it!