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By Julie Nipperess.
If you’re not already half-way through your Christmas shopping, then no doubt it’s weighing on your mind. This is, after all, the ‘spending season.’ And for many of us, our focus is usually on the fact that there’s more cash going out of our bank accounts… than there is coming in.
If you made a Christmas budget to get you through, then good on you.
If you didn’t … then there is good news and bad.
The good news is that you’re not alone. Research by the Financial Planning Association (FPA) shows that we each spend about $100 a month on giving gifts, but most of us, about two-thirds, don’t budget for this money.
The bad news is that $100 per month is a pretty substantial expense that’s not planned for, especially when you consider that it’s more than we tend to spend on coffees, dry-cleaning, or our mobile phones!
And I will have said this before… when you don’t have control over your money, it starts to have control over you.
So, what else do you spend money on that you don’t budget for?
Many people think that budgeting is dull. Nerdy. A bit OCD.
But what if I promised you that if you budgeted, and also made a concerted effort to stick to the budget for 12 months, you’d be at least $1,000 better off by this time next year?
The point of a budget is to get to know your numbers, specifically, the difference between what you earn, what you need to spend, what you want to spend and what you can save.
When you’re armed with this information, you can make wise money choices.
Frankly, if you’ve never done a budget before, then you will be surprised at what you think you spend and what you actually spend… So, to make life easy, we’ve developed a budget worksheet you can tailor for your own personal circumstances. Click here.
There are just three steps to the process:
Step 1. Download and print the worksheet
Step 2. Gather up three months of bank statements.
Step 2. Pour wine (or your drink of choice) and settle in for a couple of hours.
This will be the most important two hours you’ll spend this year.
I’m not kidding.
Netflix can wait… Because the other advantage of doing a budget is psychological. The exercise itself completely changes your money mindset.
When it’s done, it will really make you consider every purchase you make. So many of us tap, pop pins and swipe our cards mindlessly… But, when you get to know your numbers, you’re more likely to weigh up the necessity of every cent you spend.
And that’s where you want to be. Because when you are ‘consciously spending’ you’re starting to take charge of your finances.
Some people don’t do this budgeting exercise because they’re worried about what the results might be. And that’s perfectly ok. But here’s the thing: you’ve got to have a starting point. Otherwise you’ll get nowhere. It would be like going on a diet without weighing yourself first. How would you know how you’re doing? A budget is a point of reference and a chart for your progress.
You, my friend, do not work as hard as you do to be ‘poor’ or ‘just doing ok’. Because the fact is, if you have an income, you have an opportunity to create wealth. And I don’t say this lightly. Because wealth is created in small, incremental, consistent steps.
And year upon year, you build on what you’ve got. And then, when you’re confident, you can consider other financial and investment strategies that will help you to get even further ahead financially.
Make no mistake – budgeting is not going to mean that you’ve got to sit at home night after night eating toast and vegemite. Rest assured, even if you have debt, you can still work out a way to manage your money so you can enjoy yourself, pay your bills and save a little, too.
Just remember this: taking control over your money will help you create a life… not just a living. Contact us if we can help.
This is general advice and should not be treated as personal advice. Julie Nipperess is an authorised representative of Step Up Financial Group Pty Ltd, Orange New South Wales. ASFL No: 512509.