Budgeting for success in 4 easy steps

With the end of the financial year approaching, it’s a good time to review your personal balance sheet. If it’s not as healthy as you would like, perhaps it’s time to do a little budget repair of your own.

Budgeting for success in 4 easy steps

Just as governments need to set policy objectives and budget for future spending commitments, households need to feel confident they can meet their current and future financial commitments.

So no matter how much you earn, it’s always a good strategy to check that your spending doesn’t exceed your income. It’s also important to think about how much you need to save today to pay for all the things you want to achieve in the future.

Before we look more closely at your personal finances, it’s worth understanding how you may be affected by the big picture.

Budgeting for success in 4 easy steps

Cost of living pressures

The big economic issues for everyone right now, from the federal government and the Reserve Bank to businesses and households, are inflation and interest rates.

While economists talk about inflation, individuals experience this as an increase in their cost of living. Inflation increased by 3.5% in the year to December, with the price of fuel and the cost of buying a new home the biggest contributors. Prices of food, transport, health and insurance are also rising.i

Rising prices also put pressure on the Reserve Bank to lift interest rates to dampen demand. Lenders respond by increasing interest rates on mortgages and other loan products. While the Reserve Bank recently lifted rates, homeowners and investors need to be prepared for the increase in mortgage repayments.

While higher prices are not a major concern if your income is growing faster than inflation, annual wages growth is lagging inflation at just 2.3 per cent.ii In other words, unless you’re lucky enough to secure a big wage rise your finances could be going backwards in real (after inflation) terms.

Given these challenges, what can you do to get ahead?

Start at the beginning

Money may not buy you happiness, but having enough to afford the life you want to lead certainly helps. So how much is enough?

A recent survey by Finder found 25 per cent of Australians wouldn’t feel affluent unless they earned at least $500,000 a year.iii Not only is this almost nine times the average income of around $60,000, many of today’s rich listers started out with far less.iv

There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big but you are more likely to achieve your goals by being realistic and to start with, making the most of what you already have.

Before you can build wealth, you need to understand what’s coming in, where your money’s going and where you could make savings, by following these four steps:

  1. Add up your annual income from wages, investments and government benefits.
  2. Add up your spending on essential living expenses including mortgage or rent, groceries, utilities, transport and insurances; and discretionary spending on the fun stuff like clothes, dining out, entertainment and holidays. If you don’t have receipts, try tracking your spending over three months or so using one of the many free online budgeting apps.
  3. Subtract your total spending in step 2 from your total income in step 1. If you spend more than you earn or barely break even, then look for areas where you could save. Things like cutting back on takeaways, impulse spending online, and streaming services you rarely use. Ring your mortgage lender to negotiate a better interest rate and when insurances come up for renewal, shop around.
  4. Draw up a budget to track your spending and put a savings plan in place to achieve your goals. Even a simple plan will help with discipline and make regular saving automatic.

Putting it all together

Some of the most popular budget strategies take a bucket approach, with separate money buckets for needs, wants and savings.v Most aim to set aside around 20 per cent of your income as savings and paying yourself first by setting up regular debits to a savings account. If you have debts or don’t have an emergency fund, then these should be attended to before you direct savings to investments or other goals.

To be successful, a budget needs to be one you can stick to, tailored to your personal goals and financial situation. If you would like us to help plan your personal budget strategy, get in touch on 03 9553 0271.

i https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/economy/price-indexes-and-inflation/consumer-price-index-australia/latest-release

ii https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/economy/price-indexes-and-inflation/wage-price-index-australia/latest-release

iii https://www.finder.com.au/average-aussie-needs-330000-to-feel-rich

iv https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-06-20/are-you-middle-income-see-how-you-compare/100226488

v https://www.finder.com.au/best-budgeting-strategies

Share this post


Authorised Representative 298494
Interprac Financial Planning Pty Ltd 

Darryl Jopling

Senior Adviser

I have worked in the financial services industry since 1982 and as a Financial Adviser since 1999.

I have worked for large Financial Planning businesses, Membership based organisations and looked after the financial planning needs of clients within an Accounting Practice before starting my own business.

I am married, have 4 older children and a grandson and I am keen golfer with mixed results like many .

I have been through many of the strategies I talk with clients about myself and with my family.

I have been through the journey of seeing my parents move into Aged care and negotiated the difficulties and pitfalls of understanding the system for them and this gives me an excellent insight into what is required to assist families at this difficult time.

In a previous roll I used to run retirement seminars looking at Centrelink and Retirement Incomes and how to make these work for you. I have helped many of my clients with Aged Care advice when their parents needed to move into Nursing Homes. For many clients I assist them with superannuation, building wealth and protecting their loved ones with insurance.

I am supported by his, Licensee, Interprac Financial Planning’s in-house resources and ongoing technical, systems and training.

I am committed to understanding your needs and identifying strategies and products to help you achieve your goals.

My guiding principle as an Adviser is to design plans which help to provide my clients with clarity of purpose and the opportunity to build a solid financial foundation.
I will take the time to listen, explain things clearly and keep you informed throughout the advice process.

My experience is complemented by professional qualifications including:

  • Certified Financial PlannerTM Professional
  • Diploma of Financial Planning

At Choice Financial Advice we work with you along the way on life’s journey.

Whether you are getting married, starting a family, embarking on the trip of a lifetime, planning to enjoy your years after work or assisting elderly parents with Aged Care and Nursing Home placements, we can help.