How to do a budget

Having a budget helps you see where your money is going. You can put aside money for bills and expenses and set up a plan to reach your financial goals.

Follow these steps to get started. Use how often you get paid as the timeframe for your budget. For example, if you get paid weekly, set up a weekly budget.

How to do a budget

1. Record your income

Record how much money is coming in and when. If you don’t have a regular income, work out an average amount.

Make a list of all the money coming in, including:

  • how much

  • where from

  • how often (weekly, fortnightly, monthly or yearly)

This money could be from your wages, pension, government benefit or payment, or income from investments.

2. Add up your expenses

Regular expenses are your ‘needs’ – the essential items you need to pay for to live. These include:

Fixed expenses, for example:

  • rent or mortgage payments

  • electricity, gas and phone bills

  • council rates

  • household expenses, like food and groceries

  • medical costs and insurance

  • transport costs, like car registration or public transport

  • family costs, like baby products, child care, school fees and sporting activities

Debt expenses, for example:

  • personal loan repayments

  • credit card payments

  • mortgage repayments

Unexpected expenses, for example:

  • car repairs and services

  • medical bills

  • extra school costs

  • pet costs

To make sure you’ve recorded all your expenses, look at your bills or bank statements. Include what the expense is for, how much and when you pay it.

3. Set your spending limit

The money you have left after expenses is your spending and saving money.

Your spending money is for ‘wants’, such as entertainment, eating out and hobbies.

Make a plan for what you want to do with your spending money. This will help you to see where it goes and keep within your spending limit.

4. Set your savings goal

If you have a savings goal you can use your budget to work towards it.

Once you know how much money you have for ‘wants’, you can work out how much of it you’d like to save. 

Having some savings can create a safety net for unexpected expenses. Even a small amount set aside regularly will make a difference.

5. Adjust your budget

Your budget needs to work for you and your lifestyle so it’s important to adjust your budget as things change. 

For example, if your expenses start to increase you may need to reduce your spending, or change your savings goal. Or you might be able to save more if you get a pay rise or you pay off some debt.

6. Make budgeting easier

To help make budgeting easier, consider having separate bank accounts. You could have:

  • a transaction account for bills and expenses

  • a transaction account for spending

  • a higher interest savings account

You can then automate your budget by setting up a regular transfer to your savings account on pay day. You can also set up direct debits when your bills are due.

Reproduced with the permission of ASIC’s MoneySmart Team. This article was originally published at

Important note: This provides general information and hasn’t taken your circumstances into account.  It’s important to consider your particular circumstances before deciding what’s right for you. Although the information is from sources considered reliable, we do not guarantee that it is accurate or complete. You should not rely upon it and should seek qualified advice before making any investment decision. Except where liability under any statute cannot be excluded, we do not accept any liability (whether under contract, tort or otherwise) for any resulting loss or damage of the reader or any other person.  Past performance is not a reliable guide to future returns.

Any information provided by the author detailed above is separate and external to our business and our Licensee. Neither our business nor our Licensee takes any responsibility for any action or any service provided by the author. Any links have been provided with permission for information purposes only and will take you to external websites, which are not connected to our company in any way. Note: Our company does not endorse and is not responsible for the accuracy of the contents/information contained within the linked site(s) accessible from this page.

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.