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Tips for budgeting

Keeping a budget will help put you in control of your money. It will help you to:

  • manage your income
  • pay your expenses on time
  • get the most out of your money.

Keeping a budget is as simple as calculating how much income you earn and taking away whatever you spend. Try to include all your income and expenses as soon as possible or you might forget them.

Download our budget planner (XLSX, 325KB)

Income

Think about how much money you have coming in.

It might come from:

  • wages
  • government assistance (such as Austudy or other allowances)
  • grants or bursaries
  • share dividends
  • interest from term deposits or other bank accounts
  • rental income.

Expenses

Your expenses might fall into several categories. These include living expenses, work expenses, car expenses, repayments and other expenses.

Living expenses might include:

  • rent, board or mortgage payments
  • groceries
  • electricity, gas, water, phone and internet bills
  • insurance
  • body corporate fees
  • council rates.

Your work expenses might include:

  • public transport
  • lunch money
  • business expenses if you are a sole trader.

Your car expenses might include:

  • petrol
  • registration and insurance
  • maintenance.

Your repayments might include:

  • a home loan
  • a car loan
  • a lay-by
  • credit card repayments.

Any extra expenses might include:

  • entertainment costs (such as movies, dining out, concerts or sporting events)
  • clothes
  • study fees, including HECS/HELP repayments
  • private appointments (such as haircuts or medical consultations)
  • holidays
  • memberships and subscriptions (such as gym or magazines)
  • other incidentals (such as alcohol, lotto tickets, pet expenses, gifts or donations).

Make sure to be honest with yourself about your spending. This will help you to save money or afford to buy something you really want.

Overspending

If you are spending more than you earn, you will need to make some sacrifices with your spending or consider other opportunities to earn money. Examine your budget and decide where you might be able to save.

For example, you could:

  • move somewhere cheaper
  • make your credit card payments earlier to avoid high interest rates
  • find a more cost-effective mobile phone plan (including the cost of apps and games)
  • think about selling your car and using public transport
  • spend less on clothes, shoes, music downloads, dining out and other non-essentials
  • share the cost of gifts with others.

Think about ways that you may be able to earn more money. For example, you could:

  • get more hours at work or another job
  • check with Centrelink about extra benefits you may be entitled to
  • ask the Australian Tax Office, your employer or an accountant if you’re paying too much tax
  • sell something you don’t really need to raise cash
  • rent out a spare room to a paying housemate.