The number one thing that everyone must do to save money is create a budget! Not to be Captain Obvious here but it really does work! There is a way that you can create your perfect budget, without having to skimp on the things you enjoy in life.
You might not know it, but you’re already half way there! I should also tell you that this ‘budget’ you are about to set for yourself isn’t a strict ‘budget’ as such.
Its more of a guideline. Which is what makes it so awesome!
Here is how we have managed to create our perfect budget, and how you can make this model work for you.
Step 1: Figure out what you are currently spending.
The first step you should take in creating yourself a realistic and achievable budget is to figure out what you’re currently spending. On everything.
Sit down, take a look at your spending history. Go back and add up everything you have spent in the last 3 or so months and create a simple chart of your average expenditure.
Which spending should you include in these averages? We recommend starting with the basics:
- Groceries (all food purchases including regular shops and top ups)
- Petrol (for all cars in your household)
- Power Bills
- Internet Bills (although this may not change every month)
- Water Bills
- Take Out (all meals purchased outside of regular food shops)
- Entertainment (anything spent on having fun)
You may think this is quite simple, maybe a little too simple, but remember it’s better to start out small so you don’t become discouraged if you can’t hit unrealistic goals.
For each of these categories, go through your (bank) statements (online works best) and add up everything you have spent on these in the last 3 months. Then divide it by the amount of transactions you added together (it pays to keep track of this as you go).
These figures (for each category) are what you will be using as the basis of your budget!
Now, that wasn’t so hard, was it? 🙂
Step 2: Hold a trial run
Now you have all of your averages, it’s time to hold a trial run. I would allow a month for this, so you can get a really good idea about where you can comfortably set your budget at.
This can be the most trying time when setting your budget. We recommend at this time that you also take a good look at what you are actually purchasing.
Ask yourself if you really need it. You have to be ruthless!
Whenever you spend anything this month, use your averages as your guide. That’s right! Try and use your averages as your budget. Give it a good and fair go. If your average spend is way below your usual spend, just give it your best shot.
Don’t panic if you need to spend more than your average, this part is all about finding that sweet spot.
Make sure you record your spending for the month, just as in step one.
Step 3: Set your final budget!
Now that you have given it a decent trial run, it’s time to set your final budget. Take a look back at each category individually, it makes the whole budget setting task a little less daunting. Here are a few tips that may help you create your final budget figures:
- If you have managed to stick to your average spend as a budget, great! Stick to it!
- If you have only just gone over the average, but have still managed to get everything you need (and its less than you would normally spend) that’s great too! Round the figure that you spent down (get all ‘dem savings in) to the nearest 10 and stick to it!
If you have found it really difficult to keep anywhere near where your averages are, I recommend you first take a look at what you are actually spending your money on, just to see if this may need to be taken care of first.
- Creating your perfect budget isn’t going to happen overnight, give yourself a decent amount of time to make sure you get it right. If you restrict yourself too much, life can become boring and miserable.
- Don’t beat yourself up if you go slightly over your budget, this isn’t your typical strict budget. It’s more of a guideline. If you feel you deserve to buy yourself a tub of ice-cream, BUY THE TUB OF ICE-CREAM!
- Do you really need it? Do you already have it at home? Could you buy a cheaper brand?
- When setting your budget, be hard on yourself! Be ruthless even! The only way you are going to see any results from your budget, is if you really, really want to succeed!
Its not easy, but it CAN easily be done!
Feel free to ask us any questions or share your way of budgeting in the comment section below or via the contact form!