Budgeting. It can be a scary word when we hear it. Or one that we often throw around but never stick to. I can honestly say I have never been the best at saving my money. I prefer to live life without worry and that means carelessly spending money on food, books, clothes and everything in between. I found it easy to save for my last 3 week Europe trip without strictly budgeting, however, this time around, I need to ensure I have plenty of money to cover my 5 week trip, settling in London and enough left over in case things don’t go as planned. I also want to have a small amount saved that I can build upon to travel during the European Summer. This has meant that I have put myself on a very strict and very tight budget, and I’m proud to say for the first time in my life, I am sticking to it. Of course budgeting will be different for everyone. We all have different incomes and different expenses. However, I hope that these following tips can apply to anyone regardless of their income or expenses.
- Work out how much you want in the long run – Before you do anything, work out a rough estimate of how much you want to save in the long run. This does not have to be definite or set in stone, just a rough guess. Work towards this goal and if it changes along the way, adapt your budget to suit. I started out with a smaller figure before creating a tighter budget to save just that little bit extra to make sure I am not leaving myself with nothing. Perhaps you will start with a large, strict budget and realise you do not need to save so much and relax on your savings a little bit. I did some research in to how much a general 5 week holiday in Europe may cost and how much I would need to set myself up in London and just created a rough estimate from there.
- Cancel any subscriptions that you don’t use – I won’t say cancel all of your subscriptions, you have to allow yourself some things. Keep subscriptions to things you use on a regular basis. I use Netflix often and it is a low monthly cost so I decided to keep this. However, I also had subscriptions to Stan and Foxtel which I rarely used, so I cancelled these and save over $35 a month on those (it might not seem like a lot, but it adds up). Once my phone contract ended I swapped to a different provider offering the same services for half the price, now I am able to save that leftover money.
- Download a budgeting app or keep a record – I found the Daily Budget app to be very useful when working out a budget for myself. It allows you to input your income, your recurring expenses and how much you would like to save. It then calculates how much money you can spend a day. Once you’ve set it all up you can add in any extra income and record what you are spending and on what.
- Do free things – Having fun doesn’t need to cost money. Go for a walk, go to the beach, find a free museum. I’m lucky enough to live near some amazing National Parks and exploring the outdoors is a fantastic free way to spend your time and catch up with friends. Go waterfall hunting or find a new favourite trail walk. If the outdoors isn’t your thing then perhaps spend more time reading, invite friends over for a movie night, become a true Netflix binge addict and watch TV shows and movies. If free activities don’t interest you at all, allow yourself small amounts of spending money on activities. $5 here and there for a coffee doesn’t hurt, just don’t get in to the habit of doing it all the time. If you’re from Melbourne, check out Lonely Planet’s list of free things to do in Melbourne.
- Cut out anything that you don’t NEED – This can be the trickiest one to stick to. When I go to spend money, I now ask myself ‘but do I NEED this?’ If the answer comes back as ‘no’ then don’t buy it. I had an addiction to buying books. I have so many it will take me years to read them all, but I continually went back and bought more and more. I have simply cut this out, as well as buying clothes. I have plenty of clothes and do not NEED any more. I have always been one to go out for regular dinners, I have not cut this out completely, just reduced how often I do this. I have limited myself to once a week, and I no longer go out for lunch at work. Packing your own lunch every day saves more than you would think. Be kind to yourself, don’t take absolutely everything away from yourself, allow yourself one or two things here or there.