Beginning a budget: Examples to help you start

Spending money is something most people like to do. Saving, on the other hand, is harder, but ultimately can be more rewarding.

We talk a lot about the importance of creating a budget for your family, to balance your saving versus spending. This way you still have some luxuries to enjoy, whilst also paying off credit card debts and putting money aside for retirement.

So where do you start and how much could you actually cut back on and save?

Track what you spend

The first step of setting your budget is to find out how much you can spend.

Add up all of the money coming in – wages, tips, investments returns, interest – and get one figure for your total income.

Then, do the same with all the money that leaves your bank account. This list is likely to be longer, and will include regulars such as groceries, transport costs, bills and accommodation. Get a total figure for all of these expense items and subtract it from your income.

Where can I make this budget? Anywhere. Use a trusty piece of paper to write them down, type them into a spreadsheet or collate them on a mobile app.

Find out what you can cut

It’s possible you will either be spending more than you earn, or your expenses will be equal or less than your income.

In either case, you’ll want to cut all the unnecessary items from your regular spend to make your budget nice and efficient.

Food and drink

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Aussie families with young children spend more on food and drink than transport, recreation and medical care. This is confirmed by MoneySmart, who state that young families with kids could spend between $224 and $314 per week on eating and drinking.

In your new budget, make sure to include a section for this expenditure, as it’s vitally important. Let’s look at some simple maths to show you what you could save.

Average cost of a coffee per day Per week Per year
Let’s assume $5 $25 $1,300
Take outs every Friday Per month Per year
Let’s assume $60 for a family with children $240 $2,800-$3,100

By noting down what you spend each month, you can already see that by cutting out your daily barista-bought coffee and avoiding eating out too regularly, your savings start to pile up. And quickly.

Transport

What do you spend on fuel getting to work? The ABS also states that Australians spend around $60 per week on fuel.

What if you were to bus instead? Most major centres offer a digital ticketing system for public transport, which reduces the cost of fares and makes them easy to pay. These savings vary city to city, so make sure to research your local variant to see the benefits of your region.

Banking

Credit card and other bank fees can be a frustrating expense that most would want to limit. Most credit card providers charge interest, annual fees, late payment fees and other little price tags that can add up. Bank account and ATM fees further skim small amounts of cash from your income.

When looking to cut banking costs, consider fee-free transaction accounts, ATMs and even credit cards. For example, Virgin Money offers a No Annual Fee credit card which means no annual fee, ever.

If you can cut costs, even in small amounts, on a regular basis, already you can see that your annual savings could amount to thousands. This means extra funds for meeting day-to-day expenses, saving for holidays, topping up your super and then whatever else you’d love to save for.

Family holidays, here you come!

What areas could you afford to cut back on?