How to Budget Like a Pro

By Katherine Houston

Managing your personal finances can be a tricky task, here are a few ways you can budget like a pro.

Cut unnecessary costs

Costs like late fees on your credit card or start-up fees on a gym membership are just something you could do without. Look for ways you can eliminate these costs, perhaps set a monthly reminder on your phone to help pay your bills on time or joining the gym through refer a friend promotions. If you tend to carry a balance on your credit card each month, you may want to consider a credit card with a low interest rate to avoid being stung with high interest charges. The Latitude Low Rate Mastercard has a low standard interest rate of 9.89% p.a., which is lower than the major banks (as of September 2019*). How low is that?

There’s an app for that

These days, there are a tonne of budgeting apps at our disposal, making us hard-pressed to come up with more excuses why we can’t monitor our spending. There’s something about seeing your total expenditure laid out in front of you that makes you more considered when spending your money. And don’t worry, it’s a good thing! Many apps provide the option to choose spending limits for categories like entertainment, groceries, shopping and coffee, and alert you when they’re reached to help you create better money habits. Some have even digitised the old school envelope spending method to display a similar allocation of budget.

Top apps in the Google Play and Apple app stores include Money Manager, Goodbudget and Spendee. Give them a go and see what suits you.

Try it for a month or even a week, you may be surprised where most of your money goes! Here’s hoping it’s towards a few fun things.

Home hacks

You don’t need the latest and greatest in interior design to lift your living room. Places like Freedom, Kmart and Bunnings are a fantastic resource, with items often at a fraction of the price, that can help minimise clutter and elevate your home. Whichever room is your target for a spruce up – be it kitchen, living room, bedroom or bathroom – you’ll find affordable alternatives with just a little hunting.

You can clear the clutter with baskets from Kmart that are handy for your rugs or throws during the warmer months, or bring the outside inside with indoor plants from Bunnings. If you’re one that struggles to keep your plants alive or simply don’t have time, try a palm or cut your losses and invest in artificial plants. Freedom delivers here with a selection of artificial plants to brighten the room.

Hate taxes? Don’t do them.

You don’t have to count receipts yourself, leverage the great technology that’s there to help you. If you’re looking to track your expenses either for personal, work or small business, there’s plenty of software designed to make this easier for you, plus, it could be your lifesaver come tax time.

Besides the resources the ATO provides, software such as Expensify helps you with your expenses, capturing receipt data including date, time and amount to make claiming your tax as seamless as possible. There’s also YNAB (You Need A Budget) that helps you manage bills and life expenses and avoid scrambling pay check-to-pay check. It’s also available as an app and currently rated 4.2 in the Google Play store.

Everyone has their own life hacks for budgeting and one method (or app) doesn’t always suit everyone. However there are plenty of options out there, you just have to discover what works best for you by experimenting with a few.

*As of September 19, 2019, the major banks’ equivalent low rate credit card standard interest rates were above 9.89% p.a. You can find this at Canstar.