Are you managing your cash flow effectively?

A well-constructed budget is the key to good financial management.

Do you find it difficult to manage your money so that you have enough to pay your big bills when they are due?  Having a proper budget that you update regularly will make all the difference.

I hear you say ‘but I don’t know where to start’!

The first step is to find a tool to help, one you like using and find easy to use.  There are lots of free budgeting options available on the internet and the Money Smart website is a good place to begin.  Another really useful option is an App on your smart phone – Monefy is one of the Android Apps that lets you record what you spend and then upload the data to your spreadsheet-based budget.

Find your last pay slip and record in your budget tracker the amount of each pay and the frequency that it comes in.  Record any other income and then begin on your expenses.  Start by identifying what are your needs and what are your wants.  Needs are things that just have to be paid e.g. rent, groceries, etc. and wants are the discretionary expenses like dining out, a morning coffee on the way to work.

Populate your spreadsheet with all of the needs for the current week and for the months ahead so that you know when the car registration bill is due and you can leave enough money to pay that bill when it arrives.  How much is left over each pay period after you have paid your necessary expenses?   

That amount is all that you have left for the wants. 

Do you want to plan for a holiday or a new car?

Identify what you want to do, how much it costs and when it is to be – say you have decided that you want to take a holiday that will cost you $2,000 and you want to go in 6 months’ time.  Look at your budget – you have allowed for the needs, and you know what is left after they have been paid.  Factor in an amount to save each pay as you are entering up your discretionary expenses, or wants. This will tell you if your savings expectation is achievable.  If it is not, then you have to adjust your budget – where can I trim something off the discretionary expenses so I can save what is needed, or do I have to wait longer for the holiday?

Once you are in the habit of watching and tracking what you spend, you will find a budget easy to work with and that you can achieve your goals because you have planned for them.

Sue Dunne

Please note: The information provided in this article is general advice only. It has been prepared without taking into account any person’s individual objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on anything in this article you should consider its appropriateness to you, having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs.

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