Finance Expert Anthony Bell helps you make and stick to a pain-free budget

By Anthony Bell, Finance Expert

“My New Year’s Resolution was to keep an eye on my budget, but I’m already struggling. Please help!” RESCU’s finance expert, Anthony Bell, is just the person to ‘rescu’ you. Here, he helps you establish a realistic budget, pay off your debts and start saving for a brighter future.

With the start of any new year, it is common for people to set a budget. Setting a budget is all good and well however you need to be able to stick to it!

Below are Anthony Bell’s tips to assist in making your 2010 budget the one that you’re able to follow.

Make the budget realistic: When setting a budget there is no point in estimating expenses for certain items at unrealistically low levels. 

If you do this, you are just setting yourself up for certain failure and a possible spending spree, just to make yourself feel better! 

Categorise your expenses and then see if there are ways to reduce these costs. For example, you may buy a coffee on the way to work each day. A good way to save some money is to have a coffee at home or in the office instead. 

Assess where you are spending your money: Before you set your budget, a good idea is to write down what you are spending your money on. This will allow you to ascertain where and what your income is going towards. 

It is the little things that we forget about which all add up. By writing everything down, there is no way you can forget.

Credit Card debt vs. savings: If you do have credit card debt, it may also be costing you up to 20% per annum in interest. 

If you are paying a high interest rate on your card, the best thing you can do is pay it off and fast! In these instances, your savings may have to be sacrificed in the short term however it will enable you to get the noose off your neck. Once the credit card is paid off, you can then allocate these payments towards your savings.

How much should I save?: Rule of thumb is you should save at least 10% of your income. These savings can then be used towards a big ticket item, such as a deposit on a house. By saving, it also allows you to have funds aside should an unexpected expense come up. 

Get rid of the temptation: If you find it difficult to keep within your budget, make sure you minimise the temptation to spend. One of the most common ways to overspend is to put purchases on the credit card and worry about payment later. If you are unable to resist the temptation then it may be time to cut up the credit card and start operating on a debit card system. This way you can only spend what money you have.

If you cannot bear cutting it up, then leaving the card at home when you go shopping is another option. By doing this, you reduce the risk of impulse purchases.

Living towards a budget can be hard, however in the long run it will assist in reducing your financial stresses and provide you with financial security into the future. 

For more tips on becoming financially secure, read Anthony’s prior blogs on getting your finances back on track after Christmas overspending, and becoming financially secure in 2010.

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