First, make a list of things you use every day – where you live, food, clothes, power, hot water, a telephone, transport. Thinking about money this way helps you prioritise spending on what you need most, such as rent, meals, shoes, electricity, gas and water, bus fares or petrol for your car.
Next, make a list of things that you want or do regularly – whether that’s going out with friends, subscribing to magazines or paying a football club membership. Add up how much you spend on each of these items each pay or benefit cycle. This is called discretionary spending, and can be cut back if you need to tighten your belt.
Most of our bills, such as credit card repayments, gas, water, come in monthly or quarterly. Mark them on a calendar so you know when they are coming up. A good way of making sure you have enough money when they arrive is to look at all of your recent bills and divide them by your pay or benefit period (usually fortnightly) and put that money aside. If you find it difficult, think about opening a basic bank account and transfer a set amount there every pay day. Visit our FAQs and Links page for more information on basic bank accounts.
Add important dates to the calendar, such as birthdays and Christmas. Check your bank and credit card statements from last year to see how much money you spent on gifts and celebrating and add that up. Then divide that amount by your pay or benefit period so you know how much money to set aside.
It might pay to shop around for a better deal on your energy needs, or ask your provider about payment options. Many utility companies offer bill smoothing. This is a way of paying bills by instalments – say every pay day – rather than paying one large bill every quarter. Get in touch with your gas, electricity or water company and ask them whether they offer this service.
If you are in financial hardship, or on a low income, you may be eligible for the No Interest Loan Scheme. You can borrow between $300-$1,200 for essential household items. It also contains links to good online tools such as budget calculators and planners to help you start.
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Disclaimer: ACM Group believes that informed consumers are the best consumers. The information contained on this website is general advice aimed at improving financial literacy and breaking the cycle of debt. It is not intended to imply any recommendation or opinion about a financial product.