If your expenses are regularly more than your income, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to withstand financial shocks and may end up with debts that prevent you from securing your financial goals.

Getting on top of your finances starts with understanding where your money is going and working out where you can cut back. You will need to keep a close eye on any changes you make until you have habits that work well for you. If you get stuck, make sure you talk to someone about it. 

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1. Understand your spending

Go through your transaction statements for the last three, six or 12 months to see how much of a gap there is between how much you earn and how much you spend.

Is there one particular item that’s bumping up your expenses or is it a range of smaller costs? Notice which costs occur irregularly such as a bigger heating bill at winter or extra spending on groceries or retail at Christmas.

Through CommBank’s Spend Tracker your CommBank debit and credit card transactions are automatically categorised, this can help you identify any areas where you may be overspending.

2. Cut back where you can

Look for where you can cut back. If there’s one large cost that means you’re unable to meet your bills and essentials, see if you can find a cheaper alternative.

If it’s a range of smaller costs that are piling up, give yourself some guidelines for spending in the future. In this case, check whether your spending falls in to the category of ‘needs’ or ‘wants’.

While you might want to cut down on costs such as eating out, it’s also worth seeing if you can get a cheaper phone plan or energy bill by switching providers. 

3. Put together a new budget

Draw yourself up a new budget with revised spending in the categories you’ve labelled for change. Be realistic, it’s important this is something you can stick to.

With the new budget you will ideally be earning more than you are spending and also setting aside some money for savings and an emergency fund. Try using our Budget Planner or another guide such as the 50:30:20 guide or accounts method

4. Keep a close eye on your money

Track your progress closely over the next few weeks. Check your bank account regularly to make sure nothing is slipping away or going unnoticed. If you need to revise your budget, just make sure you keep your end goal in mind.

If you’re with CommBank, you can set up Transaction Notifications and get notified when you’ve been paid, charged or pay for something. By setting up rules about when and how often you’re notified you can make sure that you’re always aware what you’re spending your money on.

5. Talk to someone

If you find you’re still having problems getting your expenses down, it could be a good idea to have a chat to someone you trust so they can help you stay on target. This could be someone you know who has experience working with money or a financial counselling service.

If you’re a CommBank customer, you can call us on 13 3095 or request financial assistance in NetBank if you are behind, or think you are likely to fall behind, in paying what you owe. You can also speak to our Financial Assistance Solutions teams who are here to support you in getting back on your feet in times of financial difficulty.

6. Check if you're eligible for rebates

It’s worth checking to see if you’re eligible to claim for rebates and concessions. We can help you find them through Benefits finder.

You could get drought assistance, money off an electricity bill, taxi subsidies if you have a mobility restrictions, a discount on kids sport or swimming lessons and more.

You will just need to answer five simple questions so we can show you what benefits you may be eligible for. You may be able to call and claim in minutes.

You might also like to talk to your utility provides to see if they can give you any other options for your bills. They might allow you to make fortnightly payments instead of quarterly payments. 

Things you should know

This article is intended to provide general information of an educational nature only. It does not have regard to the financial situation or needs of any reader and must not be relied upon as financial product advice. Some terms and conditions apply to our financial wellbeing features – please see commbank.com.au for details.