Creating and maintaining a budget isn't about living with the bare minimum, it's about learning to balance your money and use it in the most effective way possible.
In order to create an effective budget, you need to think about what your overall goal is. Buying a property is one of the biggest purchases you are going to make and it can often take some time to save a sufficient deposit. So, before you get started on saving for your home, you need to think about what you could realistically afford.
This is an important for step so you know what you are aiming for. Look around at potential properties and get an idea of what price range your future property will be in. Then do a quick calculation on how much you need to save.
Need some help on how much you need to save for a purchase? Check out our blog 'How to calculate the amount you need to contribute to a purchase' to see how to do this.
A deadline can help give a little more motivation to help you reach your goal sooner. Use a savings calculator to see how quickly you could realistically save this amount. Now you will have you goal including a weekly/fortnightly savings amount and a timeframe to achieve it.
When you are using the calculator note down the mini goals of where you should be every six months. This will keep you motivated by ensuring you are on track and can also give you peace of mind knowing the sacrifices you are making now will not be forever.
Do it yourself
Find out how long it will take to reach your savings goals with the MoneySmart savings goals calculator!
Take a look at all your sources of income and work out what your gross incoming is. Don't forget to include things like interest from savings and investment income. You will also need to consider whether irregular income, such as bonuses from work, should be included in your budget as it is not a regular source of income.
It is a good idea to track your expenses for a month to get an idea of exactly how much you spend. Put in figures for your regular monthly bills, rent, insurances, clothes, haircuts and other repayments. Next is food, entertainment and spending money that is used for lunches, coffee and snacks. A few dollars here and there every day can add up so keep track so you are aware of what it is costing you.
How can you save more on day-to-day expenses? Check out our blog 'How being a penny-pincher can pay off' for ideas.
Unless you are a good saver, the money that comes in currently may mostly be spent in expenses going out. If you are spending more than you earn then there will be tell-tale signs like mounting credit card debt and you will need to rethink things urgently to reverse this.
For those who are starting a budget to save for a home deposit this is the tricky part – how to find that extra $150 per week or whatever your goal dictated. Question each expense line above and think about what changes you could make to cut back.
But you don't need to go all out and slash all your expenses at once. Take your time and try to make smaller cuts at first. Some smaller expenses you could start cutting straight away include:
Coffee before work ($5 every work day): $100 a month
Takeaway lunch at work ($10 every work day): $200 a month
ATM fees ($2.50 twice a week): $20 a month
It may not seem like much, but just these three expenses will cost you an extra $3,840 a year.
Ongoing commitments such as phone contracts, insurance and loans may not seem like large expenses separately, but combined together, they are not quite so little. If you have become complacent and let money go out of your account every month without really checking it, you could be spending more money than you need to. Shop around for better deals and see how much you could be saving.
There are always going to be unexpected expenses that will pop up and often these can cause you to fall off the money saving wagon. However, if you have a savings safety buffer, it can help ease the financial strain if you lose your job, have an accident or a bill arrives that you have forgotten about.
There is a good chance that your circumstances will change while you are saving for a deposit. You may find that your income could increase or your expenses decrease or vice versa. That is why it is important to re-visit your budget every couple of months to ensure it is still ideal for your circumstances and make adjustments accordingly.
The Lending Specialists at State Custodians are on hand to help guide you through the process. They can assist in calculating how much you will need to save and the loan amount required to buy a property. They can also put your income and expenses into their lending calculators and give you feedback on affordability from a lenders perspective. This can all be done easily over the phone. Just call 13 72 62 or leave your details here and they will contact you.