Budgeting 101


Financial difficulties are one of the biggest challenges facing relationships and are often one of the main players in marital separation. Stress over mortgage payments, utility bills and groceries is hard to deal with. Managing on a single income can be tricky at times and this is where budgeting can be truly effective. ba12003 I know financially speaking, my husband and I have struggled a little recently. That’s not because we didn’t have enough money coming in, but rather that we weren’t as efficient as we could have been with how that money was spent. So, we both sat down and had a look at what money was coming in and what money needed to go out, drew up a budget and now we try to stick to it! This is how to go about it: Essential monthly payments First of all what are the payments you HAVE to make each? They might include:

  • Mortgage repayments or rent
  • Private health insurance
  • Preschool or school fees
  • Phone bills

Income Now, combine all of the money coming in on a monthly basis like wages and Family Assistance Payments. Subtract all of your essential monthly payments from this income. Now the rest of this money is not a free for all to spend. From this amount you need to consider and be prepared for:

  • Essential quarterly payments like Rates, Water, Electricity and Gas, School fees and annual payments like car registration and tax.
  • Groceries, petrol, incidental expenses like medication and doctor’s visits, as well things like charity donations and planned giving as well as presents for birthdays and special occasions.


  • Utility bills – a lot of service providers will let you pay a monthly amount proactively. For instance if your bills are regularly $600 per quarter you could pay $200/month rather than paying $600 in one lump sum on the bills due date.
  • Schedule – online banking gives you the option to schedule your payments to fit your cash flow. We use online banking to pay all of our bills, as well as charitable donations and planned giving. We also time these payments to the first few days after my husband receives his monthly wages so that they come out before we spend the money on other things.
  • Shop with a list – compiling a shopping list (and remembering to take it with you) and sticking to it, will help you avoid any impulse purchases.
  • Meal plan – plan your meals for the week and you’ll save on your grocery bill.
  • Plan – set aside what money you can each month for savings so you can manage a family holiday or the occasional dinner out with hubby, movie night or other little treat for the family.
  • Bargain buys – when non-perishable items are on special buy in bulk and store them. Buy clothes at the end of the season in next year’s sizes for your children. Buy bedding in autumn and spring when the sales are on, not in winter when they’re full price!
  • Repair – if something can be fixed, repaired or mended don’t throw it away, especially if there is plenty of wear in it!
  • Shop in advance – I purchase Christmas and birthday gifts for my family throughout the year even if it’s eleven months away. I find this really helps cash flow, especially in December, because all of the purchases don’t come out of the bank account at the same time.

Rewards Believe me you will be rewarded for creating and sticking to your budget. Since we started our budget a couple of months ago we have been able to take stock of our financial position and become comfortable in the amount of money we can allocate to various things. We feel much more confident about sticking to the budget and in doing so I was able to allocate enough money to buy a new quality down doona for our bed and another for our son (and these I got at half price)!

Filed Under: Family LifeFeaturedFinances

About the Author: Emily is a former ACPA award winning editor and journalist turned stay at home mum and blogger. She lives on a farm in regional NSW with her husband and their five children where she spends the time she should be doing housework reading books and writing posts.

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