Do you feel you need to pull in the belt on your budget this year?
Here are seven steps to ensure budgeting is about expanding your options, not restricting them.
List Your Luxuries
Write down everything that is important to your lifestyle, suggests Simone Milasas, Founder of Creator of Joy Of Business.
“Do you love wine? Then jot down whether it’s a clean skin, a $30 drop or a french bottle. What do you want the luxury in your life to look like? Once you have your luxuries – not necessities – on paper, you can then itemise how often you can indulge in them," she says.
"You may find that French champagne and caviar is possible once a year, or once every two months. You may surprise yourself by avoiding ‘excluding’ these things from your life, but rather, including them every so often instead."
Face Your Financial Reality
Simone also suggests revolutionising your financial reality by knowing exactly what it costs to live your – not someone else's – life.
“Write down every single expense you have. Be brutally honest, don’t hide anything,” Simone recommends. The big costs – like car maintenance, school fees, gym memberships etc, need to be broken down to monthly outgoings and divided by 12 (or whatever payments they are made in, whether that is weekly, monthly or fortnightly etc.) to ensure there are no surprises during any month of the year.
“When you get the total, ask [your employer] for that amount of money and more,” she suggests. “The first time I did this exercise I was in shock, but I chose to go for it anyway. What was the worst thing that could happen? In months, I was on track to earning that amount of money and more! This doesn’t make logical sense, but every time I do this exercise my money flows change."
Share Your Financial Goals
If you are married or have a partner, approach all of your financial realities and goals together. “What’s your rent reality? What’s your shared mortgage reality? Your shared utilities? Your shared interests – including movies, restaurants etc?" Simone urges you to ask. "Look at these realistically together so that there is no area for confusion or a break down in communication about your priorities so that you both retain your personal goals without losing the shared ones."
Visualise Financial Progress
“It’s not an either/or universe,” Simone enthuses. “So have a look at what you can buy and then demand you make more money in your life. Look at the trajectory. Are you making more money now than you did when you were 18, 30 or 40?” she asks. The point is that we usually make more money as we get older. Don’t lose the pace of this progression. Whether it's happening or not, focus on it happening and it will.
Change Your Perspective
“What if it wasn’t about living on a budget?” poses Simone. “What if it was about creation? Look at the energy budgeting takes – is it negative or positive – and how much it restricts you. And then look at the energy ‘creation’ takes when you create new opportunities with your budget. The energy is very, very different. With creation you need awareness and openness, but budget is just about cutting things off. If you have awareness of you’re your financial reality it’s a totally different perspective,” she says. Creating a positive energy around your finances is far more fruitful than a negative one.
Look At Your Finances With Fresh Eyes
Instead of letting another year fly past you, look at your desires for the year at the beginning of it, so opportunities aren’t closed off to you. For example, if you really want to take that skiing trip, cost it effectively and start putting $50 away per week – or whatever you can afford as a regular debit into a savings account – so that while you’re side-tracked by life in general, you are saving up for that bucket list holiday that has simply become a part of your finances.