Are you a real scrimper, constantly denying yourself great opportunities in the name of saving money?
Or do you prefer to ignore your bank balance and just spend until you can’t anymore?
Your relationship with money determines how you spend, save and ultimately live. Whether you fear it, enjoy it or love to hate money, you need some relationship with it in order to achieve your goals – even if you just want to get by.
Creating a budget can help to improve your relationship with money – but it needs to be realistic and specific to your own life in order to be successful. To this end, here are our budgeting tips to help you build a plan that works for you, not against you.
Creating an extremely restrictive budget is a great way to fail fast. You need to be honest with yourself about your habits and whether or not they work for you. Say you cut out barista-made coffees as part of your budget. If you were getting these coffees every day, it’s likely you’ll quickly miss them by going cold turkey. This might, in turn, lead you to cave in and breaking your budget or even disregarding the plan altogether.
Instead, allow your habits or create a budget that eases you away from them. It takes an average of 66 days to form a new habit, according to University College London – so your budget should give you time to adapt.
Your relationship with money may be suffering because you don’t allow yourself to enjoy the things that matter most to you. After accounting for regular expenses like rent, utilities and food, you should consider identifying the areas of your life you’d like to spend more time and money on. For example:
Allocating money you can use to help friends in need, donate to charity or buy gifts for loved ones can help you to feel more positive about your money, as you know it’s contributing to something meaningful.
There’s a lot of truth in the saying “time is money”. Fortunately, this means you can often spend money to save time.
Budgeting for food boxes or cleaners, for example, can remove the burden of planning meals or maintaining a home and make more time for you to focus on what makes you happy.
The latest designer coat may look great – but once it’s threadbare its value is gone. Experiences, however, last forever. Spending more on experience creates positive memories and strengthens your relationship with those you share them with.
What do you actually want out of life? If you’re saving for a house, are you doing so because it matters to you or because you’ve been told it’s the Australian dream?
Setting goals is an important part of budgeting, and easy to get wrong. They shouldn’t be arbitrary or unimportant to you, as you simply won’t be motivated to achieve them. Instead, ask yourself what you really want most out of life. That might be as simple as financial independence – having assets that earn income at least equal to your expenses. This is your long-term goal.
You then need to ask what short-term goals you need to achieve in order to work towards the long-term objective or make you happy in the here and now. For example, buying your first investment asset or paying for a dream wedding.
How often have you had to turn something down because you don’t feel you can afford it? Constantly allowing your budget to stop you from enjoying things will make you resent money.
Instead, say “yes” to money – give it the time needed to foster a strong relationship. Take as much as half an hour out of your evening once a week to go over your finances and find out what expenses are working for you and what needs to be revised in your budget. When you can make time for money, it can make time for you.
Lastly, make budgeting a team activity. If you’re living with a partner, being open and honest about your spending can help the relationship both of you have with money. By sitting down and building a budget together, you can ensure your financial goals are in-line or equally respected. Without honest communication, it’s possible one person may feel they’re unable to spend for themselves.
Working together as a team, you can overcome financial obstacles more easily and hold each other accountable to better reach mutual success.
Remember to be honest, realistic and forgiving when building a budget. Just as your relationship with another person requires give-and-take, so too does your relationship with money.
What you need to know
This information is provided by Invest Blue Pty Ltd (ABN 91 100 874 744). The information contained in this article is of general nature only and does not take into account the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular person. Therefore, before making any decision, you should consider the appropriateness of the advice with regards to those matters and seek personal financial, tax and/or legal advice prior to acting on this information. Read our Financial Services Guide for information about our services, including the fees and other benefits that AMP companies and their representatives may receive in relations to products and services provided to you.
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