6 Steps you can take today to achieve your financial goals

Are you struggling to manage your household expenses, mortgage repayments and other unexpected bills that always seem to arrive at the wrong time? It might be time for you to sit down and create a budget that works for you.

Many homeowners have achieved their financial goals a lot sooner by creating and following a careful budget. Who knows – you might even be able to pay a little more off your mortgage each month and be mortgage free a couple of years sooner.

Step 1 – Identify how you’re spending money now
Get out the bank statements, receipts and online banking, and spend some time examining exactly what you spend money on now. Be honest, and don’t forget to factor in the things that only come up on occasion – like car registration, birthday presents, Christmas etc.

Step 2 – Set goals for the future
Work out what you hope to achieve by implementing your budget. This will help to motivate you because you will be working towards an actual goal and you can see the results.

Step 3 – Use budgeting software or other methods for monitoring spending
There are some incredible programs available now for budgeting, accounting and monitoring spending. Many of these can be synced with your internet banking so that they automatically collate the information for you.

Step 4 – Leave room for the occasional unscheduled purchase
There’s no use creating a strict budget if you can’t stick to it. If you currently go out for dinner once a week, rather than removing it altogether, try budgeting for dinner out once a month. If you don’t feel like your life has come to an end, you’re more likely to stick to the budget and achieve your goals.

Step 5 – Watch out for disappearing notes
Do $20 notes seem to grow legs and walk out of your wallet whenever you stop at the ATM? If you don’t need to withdraw cash then try to avoid it. Most outlets have EFTPOS facilities these days, so try using your card for small purchases, rather than withdrawing money and making it disappear.

Step 6 – Don’t count on uncertain wins
Don’t spend money that you can’t afford, because you think that you might be getting a tax return this year. It’s dangerous to rely on any money that isn’t definite when you create your budget. Maybe you could wait until you actually receive the money and then do something really special with it once you have it.