The Real Reason You Can’t Stick To Your Budget

It’s all about organisation.

If money management isn’t your thing, nothing will get you cruisin’ for a snoozin’ more than personal finance. Dull though it may seem, household budgeting is just one of those things grown-ups do, like making the bed and getting to work on time. Here’s how to get the household finances under control.

Big spender?

“Look at what you are actually spending rather than what you think you are spending,” says Canna Campbell, a financial adviser who’s dedicated to helping people plan their financial future. The founder of SugarMamma.TV, Campbell says the first step in creating a realistic budget is to look carefully at how you spend your money. “Write down your true cost of living and update it regularly,” says Campbell. This means you should check your bank statements frequently so you can track where your money is going. The Australian government’s Department of Human Services has a range of free, easy budgeting tools on their How To Budget page.

Stay focused

“The most common mistakes you can make are underestimating your real cost of living and forgetting your financial goals,” says Campbell. “Distractions and temptation can cause destruction.” Having a goal gives you something to work towards, allowing you to reap the benefits of a budget. Pick a goal and start saving. It might be a renovation or a holiday, or a night out at a fancy restaurant. Choose an amount to save each month and build this into your budget.

Live a little

If you’re saving for something big, you might be tempted to cut back in all other areas. Skip the takeaway coffee, say, and catch public transport instead of cabs. But beware: the daily grind can become a struggle if you deprive yourself of life’s small pleasures. Campbell says a budget doesn’t have to equal sacrifice. “A budget has nothing to do with going without,” she says, explaining that its purpose is to highlight your spending patterns, ensuring you spend less than you earn. “It makes you more mindful about where you choose to spend your money.”

Stuff happens

Another area of budget failure is if you don’t have a contingency for unexpected costs: phones break, bills increase, kids grow out of school uniforms. “Round up all your expenses to account for increases in the cost of living,” says Campbell. “And have a separate ‘life account’ for those things that happen to all of us, such as dental work, car prangs and parking tickets,” she adds.