As we kick off a new year, many of us set goals and intentions for the year to come. I’ve talked about how I start my year in this video, and how I choose a top line theme to guide my focus every year. For a few years my theme was actually personal finance, because I really needed to get my money organised and build up some savings.
Regardless of culture, many people seem to find it hard to talk about money, wealth and income. Here in Australia I know quite a few people who at times lived on their credit cards and basically spent money they did not have to pay for their basic needs. Sometimes we end up in those tough times in life where bad things happen and we get behind.
The good news is that by educating yourself about budgeting and personal finance (I still can’t believe it’s not taught in most schools and education systems!) you can change your situation!
If you don’t know how to get started with budgeting, just check out my previous blog and video with the beginner budgeting template I used to get my finances organised a few years ago. It’s a longer video, but it shares exactly how I moved from $0 in savings to feeling in charge of my finances. Budgeting is a clear and helpful way for anyone at any income level to make the most of the money they have and build the future they want. It takes time and dedication, but it’s very possible!
How to start?
I’ve got a really simple way for you to get started:
- Track all your income (money earned, any $ gifts, bonuses etc) and spending for the month of January and February.
- Use my super basic budget tracker spreadsheet (or just a piece of paper) for each category and track every dollar you spend.
- When I first started doing this I sat down every day and wrote down what I had spent that day. It only takes 2 minutes if you do it daily, it’s much harder to do if you only do it once a week, because you tend to forget little things (especially if you pay cash) that you bought.
To track your money this closely helps you see where things are at and what you’re actually doing. It can be an eye opener and many people are not comfortable doing this because they feel ashamed of how bad they are with their money or that they feel that “it’s just a few takeaway meals, it’s not a big deal“.
If this is the case for you, please allow yourself to put any judgement aside and use these 2 months to ‘date your money’. Just getting to know what is happening in your financial life will help you see where you can improve and start connecting you finances to a goal like:
- going on a big trip
- paying off your student loan
- buying a house
- upgrading your car
- being debt free
In my world a simple life is one with as little waste as possible. By following a budget, I have more freedom and peace of mind. I also experience less waste in terms of money, time and energy.
* Please note: I’m not a financial advisor, so all the advise shared here in the blog and in my videos is just what I’ve tried and learned myself and what is working for me right now. Naturally you need to experiment and see what works in your unique situation! Always seek professional financial, legal or other advice before you make any big financial decisions in your life.