6 step guide to better budgeting

Budgeting is important. It helps you prioritise your expenses, allowing you to allocate your money wisely and effectively. It provides a clear picture of your financial health, enabling you to identify areas where you can save and ultimately reach your financial goals. Additionally, budgeting helps reduce financial stress by providing a sense of control and stability over your income and expenses.. To help you get started, we've put together a 6-step guide that will put you on the path to financial success.

So, let's dive in!

Karen Deenihan, Aviva Life & Pensions Ireland DAC
Karen Deenihan, Aviva Life & Pensions Ireland DAC

Step 1: Get Organised

Having a clear view of your finances is essential, so take some time to gather all the necessary paperwork. This will include wage slips, bank statements, utility bills, credit card bills, receipts, and any other information related to your income or expenses. Find a quiet space to work, and ensure you have a pen, paper, calculator, and a cup of tea or coffee to hand.

Step 2: Work Out Your After-Tax Income

Now that you're organised, it's time to get down to the numbers. First, you need to know how much money you have coming in each month. This will be your after-tax income – the money you receive after all your taxes and other deductions have been removed. If you're employed, this should be easy to find – just check your payslip. If you're self-employed, you'll need to use your self-assessment tax return to work out your after-tax income. Make sure you include any other income sources, such as investments or rental income.

Step 3: Review Your Spending

The next step is to review your spending. Start by dividing your expenses into two categories – essential and non-essential.

  • Essential expenses are rent/mortgage payments, utilities, groceries, and other bills you can't do without.
  • Non-essential expenses are things like entertainment, dining out, and other luxuries. Note how much you spend on each of these categories each month. This will give you a good idea of where your money is going and where you might be able to cut back.

Step 4: Set Your Budget

Now, it's time to set your budget. Start by subtracting your essential expenses from your after-tax income. This will show you how much money you have left each month for non-essential expenses. Decide on a reasonable amount to allocate to each category of non-essential spending. Be realistic – if you set your budget too low, you'll go over it and feel discouraged. If you set it too high, you won't be able to save as much as you'd like.

Step 5: Track Your Spending

Once you have your budget, you should track your spending carefully. Keep a record of everything you spend and ensure you stay within your budget limits. There are plenty of budgeting apps and tools available that can help you with this.

Step 6: Review and Adjust

Finally, reviewing your budget regularly and adjusting it as necessary is important. Life is unpredictable, and your financial situation may change over time. Ensure you're always aware of your spending and adjust your budget accordingly. By following these six steps, you'll be well on achieving your financial goals.

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Aviva Life & Pensions Ireland Designated Activity Company, a private company limited by shares. Registered in Ireland No. 165970. Registered office at Building 12, Cherrywood Business Park, Loughlinstown, Co. Dublin, D18 W2P5. Aviva Life & Pensions Ireland Designated Activity Company, trading as Aviva Life & Pensions Ireland and Friends First, is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. Tel (01) 898 7950.