Here are six ways to keep your spending on track

If sticking to a budget is a struggle for you, try these ways to curb your overspending.

Six effective ways to spend less

Many of us have had years of experience managing our finances, but it’s never too late to hone our skills and learn new ways to have more control over our money.

Use a budget
Tracking your expenses over a few months will help you begin to see where you are spending your money. Once you have an idea of how much you are spending on things like food, accommodation, entertainment and similar expenses, you can start making decisions on where to make some cuts and free up cash for other activities you may want to save for, such as an annual holiday or a new car. Use the YourLifeChoices Budget Planner.

Pay off your credit cards
Credit card debt can incur high interest rates and is a waste of your money. Ideally, you would like to stop paying interest on your debt and pay the principal debt off as soon as you can. Shop around the banks to find 0 per cent balance credit card that doesn’t accrue interest for a specified amount of time (Westpac and NAB are currently offering 12 months and 26 months, respectively). Apply to transfer your credit card balance and start paying it off as quickly as you are able – preferably, before the 0 per cent interest period expires.

Boost your credit score
Having a good credit score gives you more options if an unforeseen expense arises. If, for example, you have to purchase a new washing machine unexpectedly, with a good credit score you may be able to negotiate a low or no interest payment plan with the store. One of the best ways to ensure a good credit score is to always pay your bills early or on time.

Distinguish needs from wants
Perhaps the best way to work out what we need versus what we want is to simply walk away from a purchase. On most occasions you will forget about the item you were going to buy, so obviously you didn’t need it. You could also leave your credit cards behind when you go to the shopping centre and only take as much cash money as you want to spend. If your choice comes down to spending the $100 in your wallet on groceries or buying a new pair of shoes, the difference between needs and wants soon becomes apparent.

Create an emergency fund
Once you have highlighted areas where you can cut spending from your budget, start putting away any excess in your savings account to create an emergency fund.

Analyse your spending
Can you negotiate better rates for your phone or electricity bill? Do you really need that monthly magazine subscription, or could you wait a month and borrow the magazine from the library for free?

Do you have any tips for our readers on how to budget?


    Disclaimer: All content on YourLifeChoices website is of a general nature and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It has been prepared with due care but no guarantees are provided for the ongoing accuracy or relevance. Before making a decision based on this information, you should consider its appropriateness in regard to your own circumstances. You should seek professional advice from a financial planner, lawyer or tax agent in relation to any aspects that affect your financial and legal circumstances.


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    4th Sep 2018
    I have always watched my budget and made sure my wants never outweighed my needs -- I have always made it a rule to never owe money at all -- if I can't afford it I do without.
    Big Al
    4th Sep 2018
    Determine how much is required for fixed costs eg mortgages, loans, insurances, power etc, then transfer this 2 a second account on the same frequency as you are paid. Whatever is remaining is discretionary .. determine how much u want to save/retain from the discretionary amount then whats left over you can 'spend'. But heres the trick, withdraw your 'spend' in cash and use this cash 4 everything else eg groceries, nights out etc. Only use your debit card to withdraw this cash, then park it til next payday.
    If you are struggling then cut up credit card/s, pay tbem off from your savings/retained asap.
    4th Sep 2018
    If you are going to cut up C/Cards then don't forget to CANCEL them at the bank as if not you will be charged the yearly fee, if you use them or not
    4th Sep 2018
    I find it a bit strange that this author writes to people who are getting on in years, are techno literate and competent enough to make sensible comments. Are we the wrong audience for these tips when we have been managing our finances for years?
    4th Sep 2018
    The problem is that there are many people who live beyond their means, but when they retire and their income has decreased, they find themselves in trouble. I know many personally, some who had good jobs but spent it all. This article would benefit them 40 years down the track.
    4th Sep 2018
    I watch my budget and plan accordingly for the fortnight ahead Do mot have credit cards. Id I need thins then I will put on la by. Cheaper than credit cards.
    4th Sep 2018
    C/cards are great if used the right way I have had one for many years and have not paid a cent in interest as I pay it in full b4 the due date, yes I do pay a yearly fee BUT I make that and more by the rewards I get and I always get cash rewards and I get 55 days free loan too
    4th Sep 2018
    People are starting to cut down spending. This is good as there could be some shocks in food prices coming up as well as increases in credit charges.

    4th Sep 2018
    The best was to spend is to spend less
    4th Sep 2018
    I've always worked from a budget. Don't have a credit card. The only time I had one, was when I lived in the US for 4 years; they would not let me buy anything from a catalogue unless I had a credit rating. So got a card, bought essential items (it's damn cold in the Mid-West!). Then got rid of the card when I came back to Australia. Unfortunately, now that I'm older, my health costs are escalating. Don't have an answer to that, but am doing what I can e.g. go to a doctor who bulk bills. Big Al, the discretionary money in cash is a great idea. I have recently started doing that and finding it helpful. Of course this is just at the same time as businesses are all going cashless with 'swipe and pay'!
    5th Sep 2018
    I have direct debits set up on all the regular bills (pre-determined budgeted fortnightly amounts in accordance with my wages) set up to come from my points earning no annual fee credit card (free flights YaY!). I also direct deposit the combined fortnightly total (bills amount) to my housing loan (reducing interest & paying off loan quicker) & then transfer the amounts to pay credit cards bills as they get direct debited so no interest charges on the credit card

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