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.
Step 1: Understand your spending
Start by putting together a budget that shows your current spending. Identify how much of a gap there is between your earning and your spending.
Is there one particular item that’s bumping up your expenses or is it a range of smaller costs? Look at your spending over the last three, six or 12 months to get a really clear picture of what you actually spend each month. This will also help you identify seasonal costs such as heating bills or extra spend at Christmas that may be adding to your overall spending patterns.
Step 2: Cut back where you can
Look for any areas where you can cut back on spending. The 50-30-20 guide can help you determine whether your costs in certain categories are reasonable.
If you have one large cost that’s really throwing you out (like mortgage payments or rent), it might be worth asking yourself if it’s possible to 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. A good thing to look at in this case is whether the items your spending on fall in to the category of ‘needs’ or ‘wants’.
Through CommBank’s Spend Tracker your CommBank debit and credit card transactions are automatically categorised, this will help you identify any areas where you may be overspending.
Step 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’ll ideally be earning more than you are spending and also setting aside some money for savings and an emergency fund.
Step 4: Keep a close eye on your money
Track your progress closely over the next few weeks. Don’t set your budget and forget about it. 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 of security in mind.
You can set up Transaction Notifications and get notified when you’re charged or pay for something on a CommBank credit card (not currently available if you have an additional cardholder). 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.
Step 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. This could be someone you know who has experience working with money, or pop into a CommBank branch to chat with one of our staff.
Even if things are going well, it can be a good idea to chat to someone you trust so they can help you stay on target.
Read next: Where to go for financial assistance