It can be hard knowing where to start when it comes to creating your own budget. We have so many outgoings that it can be difficult to track exactly where all of our money goes. Setting up a budget for the first time can often be quite overwhelming, and can be stressful to stick to in the initial months of using it, but the benefits are well worth it.

You may ask, why have a budget? Put simply, a budget is an effective way to monitor your incomings and outgoings. You can set up a weekly or even monthly budget depending on your needs. There are lots of online tools you can use to help you create a budget and, if you have a smart phone, there are even apps that allow you to track your spending as you shop. If you don’t have access to a computer or a smart phone, you can simply visit your local bank and they can sit down with you and help you plan your finances – it’s not as scary as it sounds!

Having a plan for your money can help you visualise your goals and ambitions in life and plan how to go about achieving them. There is a wealth of motivation that can be found in reaching your target goal when saving (no pun intended). So, to answer the question of why have a budget: budgets can put your mind at ease, and when you can start to use your money in a smart way, you can start saving. You might even surprise yourself at how much you spend without realising it!

Once you have your budget in progress, you can then start looking at other beneficial financial options such as the type of bank account you have. It’s always a good idea to go to your bank and discuss the type of account that is best for you. There are specific savings accounts with higher interest rates if saving is something you are wanting to do, and there are also accounts with no overdraft fees or bank charges if you are on a lower income. There is an account to suit everyone; you just need to find your fit and this can be done by making an appointment with your bank of choice.

Everybody has outgoings that they need to budget for, and a big chunk of outgoings is made up of bills. Having a budget shows you what funding you have to allocate to each of your bills. Bill management can be hard at first, especially if you have a lot of them, but once you’re able to  visualise the funds you have to put towards each bill, it becomes a lot more manageable.

When designing your budget, it’s important to set realistic goals. There can be a huge risk of disappointment if you overestimate how much you are going to save over a period of time, or if you cannot afford something you really want. This is why it’s important to set a realistic budget. If you make small achievable financial goals and stick to your budget, you can experience success.

We all know money is stressful, especially when we feel it’s not under control. Creating a budget for yourself will give you back your control and will empower you to achieve your goals.

The Australian Government’s MoneySmart website has a range of accessible budgeting tools to help you get started. You can find these at www.moneysmart.gov.au/managing-your-money/budgeting

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