BUDGETING – ITS EASIER THAN YOU THINK

Budgeting

Why do we spend beyond our means?

We are all manipulated to spend more at holiday times… Christmas holidays, birthdays and many other occasions throughout the year.  Men love the car, auto and machinery tool stores, while women love to shop for clothing, jewellery, shoes and furniture items.  Our family, neighbours or friends acquire a new car, boat, furniture, barbecue and it can make us envious and we think we should have one too. We live in an age when we like to have the latest and the best, but it comes at a cost.

You Need a Budget
Every Dollar Counts

In this article, we will show you some budget sheets that you can use as a simple budget planner. 

We live in a world where “shiny objects” are all around and we feel we just have to have them now, without much thought as to whether we need them or can afford them.  Retailers are out there everywhere, ready to take our money and offering all sorts or incentives to BUY their products.  Most people put items on the credit card or use after-pay systems and find themselves in financial difficulty when it comes to paying these things off.  Credit card debt has increased rapidly over the last 10 years as the banks have made it so much easier to borrow money and pay it off later.  However, for many people it is extremely difficult to pay it off.  

The retail stores generate a buying frenzy before the holiday season, during and then after, offering huge sale promotions.  We all need to realise the big department stores and retail chains price their product up heavily for the holiday times when demand is high and generally make good profits, then at the end of the season, reduce their prices to still create interest in their products, as they are wanting to clear their stock and their warehouses to allow space for the arrival of the new season’s stock, while still making money.  This of course is the time to buy if you have budgeted, and often more discount can be gained if you pay in cash.

you need a budget

Many women purchase clothing on impulse.  They don’t need it, they just WANT it and some buy without actually trying on the item of clothing in the store first, place it in their wardrobe, thinking they will wear it at a later date, then months later, realise it is too tight, too large or too small or simply unsuitable, or they just don’t like it.  (Younger women can easily fall into this trap, wanting the latest fashion fad, to impress their friends).  Consequently, the item stays in the wardrobe, cluttering up space or it is eventually donated to a charity store.  This is a bonus for those looking for a bargain.  

When you find your wardrobe is bulging or there are too many things cluttering up the house, garden or shed, its time to declutter and donate these items to charity to be recycled.  These items are generally sold for only a few dollars.  So, get creative, check out the charity stores as they generally receive huge quantities of unwanted items, new and used, but with a good wash or a fresh coat of paint they will serve your purpose.  You will often find an item of clothing with its original tag, that has never been worn.

I knew an older lady who had plenty of money, who would always looked smart and she said she always checked out the charity stores first on a regular basis and said she has saved thousands over the years.

How to make a Simple Budget

If you wish to save your money for more important things, it’s important to have a budget, an itemised list of your monthly expenses with category headings.  This is where you fill out and record all your income and spending and regular payments due on a weekly, monthly or yearly basis, so you can see that you will have enough money, not only to cover these payments and any unexpected bills, but to save for your future wealth and wellbeing.

Monthly Budget
Budgeting Worksheets

We need to educate ourselves and learn the skill of managing money wisely.  Sticking to a simple budget comes down to being disciplined and getting into the habit of routine record keeping, while putting money aside for holiday spending, school fees and contingencies such as an unexpected repair on the car or house.

Why does budgeting always seem so difficult?

Spending is all about feelings and emotions and making yourself feel good, but we need to use reverse psychology on ourselves and reward ourselves when we overcome the temptation to buy the impulse items, and we need to take the emotion out of the buying experience.

BUDGETING – IT’S EASY ONCE YOU GET STARTED

A lot of families just don’t talk about money and the importance of saving or budgeting.  We generally don’t talk about money to each other as it’s looked upon as being too nosy and prying into others’ financial affairs.  But children need to be educated about money.  This is the main reason for parents giving them pocket money.

What you need to make budgeting work…

1 First, you need to set goals… have a reason to budget.  You need good motivation and you need to be accountable… 

2 You need a parent, housemate, friend or partner to be accountable to.  They need to understand your aims and objectives and will be an encouragement, a support in trying to save money and eliminate unnecessary waste such as credit card interest and fees. They don’t need to know exactly where you stand financially, but they need to have your best interests at heart. 

3 You need forward thinking because the future is in your hands and your spending habits must change accordingly.  You will sleep well at night knowing that your finances are very much in control.

4 Most importantly, you need to KNOW ALL YOUR ESSENTIAL YEARLY RUNNING COSTS — Be very aware of what all your regular bills are….

  • Car costs… registration, regular maintenance and running costs and when they are due.
  • School fees for those with children.  Make allowances for uniforms, books, tuition fees and school activities.
  • Household running and maintenance costs. Check regularly as you may be entitled to a discount. If so, change suppliers if it works out cheaper and if no fees charged. Many people are not aware of the discounts that maybe available to them, saving lots of money each year, spent unnecessarily.  If you don’t ask or inquire you will never know.
  • Allow for garden, pool, lawn, gutter-cleaning costs
  • Allow in the budget for dental, medical and pet costs.

If you put enough aside, when payments are due, the money will be there, and an unforeseen bill won’t leave you out-of-pocket. 

3 Simple Steps to Creating a Simple Budget

Step 1

Budget Spreadsheet

The first thing to do is to total up your expected combined income for the coming year, from all income sources… wages, bank interest, share dividends etc.  Once you have your total figure, divide it into three categories… 

50% will be allocated to needs, essential expenditure such as food, shelter, energy, transport and loan repayments.

30% will be allocated to your wants… all those things that are nice to have but you could forego if you had to.  This might include entertainment and social outings.  You must take note of this figure because it will place a firm limit on your discretionary spending.

The remaining 20% of your income is to be set aside for your longer-term goals.  This might include travel, debt reduction or a buffer for unexpected events (such as a world-wide pandemic).  It will be very important that you do not spend this money.

This is known as the 50 30 20 Budget.  Some banks will assist you to create separate accounts, making it easier to deposit your income into the three separate categories.

Step 2

It’s important to know what your monthly expenses are. 

It will take time, but you must WORK OUT A WEEKLY, MONTHLY OR YEARLY BREAKDOWN OF EACH EXPENSE.  Your household expenses can be determined by calculating your average grocery bill over a month.

It will take self-discipline to make this work.  Get into the habit of recording each day’s expenditure the same day.  Here is a simple budget layout you can use for recording all weekly expenses.  This one is available in a pad form with tear-off sheets for each week.  At the end of the week you can enter the totals into a simple table.

Budget Planner

There is no need for fancy software.  You can do it with a calculator.  Make it a habit, like brushing your teeth.  Once you have done this for a whole month, you will be in a position to draw up your budget for the coming year.

List your annual, quarterly and monthly expenses.  Total up your expenses for the month and multiply by twelve.  Write these totals into a new Budget Planner sheet.  A simple Excel budget spreadsheet may help.  This will give you your targets for the year and you will know how much you can save from your yearly income.

Step 3  – Your End Goal

Now, the fun part is to decide what is the big important item that you want to save for, and you will know how long it will take.  It may be a holiday… start planning for it.  It may be a car… start researching it.  It may simply be clearing your debts… Start making extra payments off your loans. 

Every Dollar Counts
Know your end goal

Commit yourself to your goal. 

Agree on it with your partner.  Visualise it and stick a picture on your wall.  This will become your motivation to stick to your budget.  Continue to use your Budget Planner sheets to ensure that you remain on track.  This is where your accountability partner can help. 

At the end of the year, conduct an annual budget review as your income, expenses and goals may change.  You may be able to trim a little off your household expenses to improve your weekly budget.  The weekly grocery budget can vary but taking advantage of specials in the supermarket will greatly improve the average grocery bill.  These are simple budget measures that will become a habit as you watch your finances improve.

Now Take Action and Make it Happen!

If you would like to use your computer to help with your budgeting plan, there are some software tools available.  The most popular budgeting programme is called YNAB (You Need a Budget).  And the bottom line is that… You Need a Budget!       

You can find some tips for reducing your weekly expenses here.

Read more about Creating and Managing your Wealth

Managing Personal Debt

Make Money Online

by Chris Sheldon

Do you have your credit card under control?

Having a Credit card can often lead to racking up huge amounts of debt, well beyond your capacity to repay within the month required by most credit cards.

The holiday season, Christmas time, can be a particularly dangerous time for over-spending.  “After pay”, credit cards, tap and go, all are fraught with problems for all of us.  Using these easy-pay systems feels so easy and we think we can pay these items off at the end of the month.  But the end of the month comes around quickly and we have forgotten about all the other items we also have bought, with absolutely no thought to keeping track of our spending.

Retail stores make it so easy for us to part with our money. We can pay the furniture or TV item off in two years’ time, but that time also comes around very quickly and huge fees can start applying, with no chance of paying it off quickly because in the meantime we have bought several large items, also on the pay-later scheme.  

It’s such a trap for us all.  Retailers just want our money whether we can afford it or not.  We often know at the time of purchase that we won’t be able to pay these items off, but the desire for the product outweighs affordability.  We just don’t realise how quickly debt can grow and often these items are things we don’t really need or could put off until we have the cash.

Many of us have been down this path of over-spending and built up credit card debt that has gotten out of control.  If you cannot pay back your credit card debt each month, then you have a problem. If you are spending more than you earn, your debt will escalate.

The Solution to over-spending

The answer is simply to BUDGET. We all must learn the skill of budgeting properly, writing a list of the things we spend on each month.

The first step is to open an account for a DEBIT CARD.

We live in an age where things are changing very quickly and we want everything now. We don’t want to wait… we want all things bright and beautiful that we see every day. We want the brand-new car, and a lovely house to show off to our friends, along with the latest new furniture, of course.  This can look very impressive to others but deep down we know that being up to your neck in debt can cause stress, leading to some long-term health issues.  Our neighbours, friends and family may also be suffering from a similar debt crisis. Living well beyond our means is a major problem. From the outside, it looks like we earn a great wage and manage our debts.  Some of us might be paying off the debt each month, but it is a huge issue for most people.  Banks or finance companies lend money so easily and retail stores have sales all the time and we are tempted to buy the latest and greatest. We live with an ”I WANT IT NOW” age.

Why Budget?

The top 4 things that most people want when they retire are …

  • To be debt free, their house fully paid off and to have a nice car
  • To be comfortably retired with enough money to enjoy a great lifestyle, being able to make lots of choices for themselves
  • To be able to travel frequently in their own country or overseas.
  • To be able to help their children financially.

This all sounds so familiar and to many so very unachievable, but by changing our ingrained spending habits, it can become achievable.

For a lot of us, most of our money each week is going out as soon as we get it, having to pay for all these items …

  • The loans for the cars,
  • Credit card repayments for the things we can’t afford right now
  • A 25 to 30-year loan for the new home, paying interest to the bank at a much higher rate than we are earning on our savings account.

Over spending creates so many issues.  We struggle to live in balance, causing much unnecessary worry and anxiety for ourselves.

Borrowing more is not the answer, as the cycle starts all over again.

Leakage and wastage

Wealth Management

We need to look at where exactly is the leakage or wastage happening. The money that is going on STUFF we really don’t need or can do without. The one item that give us no pleasure and we don’t feel happy about is CREDIT CARD INTEREST.  And this is one of the biggest causes of leakage. If you are still paying for the holiday you have not long taken, you obviously could not afford it in the first place.  If you keep putting items on the credit card and you never pay it off, just keep paying the monthly fee, your debt compounds.

Sound familiar?  If so, you need to take a good look at the monthly interest that you pay on each credit card or any other items you are paying off.  To seriously address this leakage or wastage, you may need to take out a loan for paying off all the items you have listed and reduce your credit card limit and only use your credit for emergencies or services charges only.  Then, take out a debit card where you put in each week an amount you can afford for food, petrol and essentials each week, to get your spending back in check.  

Then, look around your house and yard and see what items you could sell that you are tired of that could bring in money to help reduce debt.

To be continued [OTHER AREAS OF WASTAGE]