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How to budget

A budget is a plan that helps you manage your money. It’s the first step to taking control of your finances. A budget helps you figure out how much money you get, spend and save.  

Making a budget takes a bit of effort, but taking the time to do this can really pay off. 

Why make a budget 

Everyone can benefit from making a budget, not just people who are having trouble making ends meet.  

A budget is especially important if you: 

  • Want to make the most of your money 
  • Don’t know where your money is going 
  • Don’t save regularly
  • Have problems paying your bills or debts
  • Feel like you’re not in control of your finances
  • Are planning for a major purchase or a life event 

 Making a budget can help you feel better, less anxious and more in control of your money 

It can also help you to have more money for things that are important to you. 

Steps to take before you start

Step 1: Think about your goals

Identify your short-term and long-term goals. 

Examples of short-term goals:

Examples of long-term goals:

Step 2: Know where your money is going

Tracking your money will help you figure out what comes in and what goes out of your pocket. Every euro you spend affects your overall budget. With this knowledge, you can make decisions about future spending.  

Keep track of your spending from a week. Use this weekly spending diary or spending calculator from the CCPC.   

 

Step 3: Think about your needs and wants 

Once you know where your money is going, decide which things are your ‘needs’ and which are ‘wants’.  

Needs are the essential items you need to live, such as paying for accommodation or electricity.  

Wants are everything else or the things you could live without. Rank your non-essential expenses. Once you’ve figured out your needs and wants, you’re ready to start your budget.  

How to make a budget

Making a budget is easy with our free My Budget tool. You can create a customised budget in a few simple steps. If you have several debts, you may prefer to use our My Full Financial Picture tool, which includes information about each debt. 

Tips to help you stick to your budget

Now that you have a budget, try to stick to it and review it from time to time. To help you stick to your budget, try to: 

  • Keep all your receipts and bills 
  • Be realistic about how much you need, a tight budget is harder to stick to 
  • Keep your spending as much as possible to what is in your budget 
  • Update your budget with any changes (increase or decrease in your wages, bill increases and so on) 
  • Compare your budget to what you actually spend at the end of each month 

You should review your budget from time to time to see how it’s working in reality. If your actual spending often varies from your budget, adjust the budget to make it more realistic. You can set a reminder to make sure you review your budget regularly. If you make it a habit, you are more likely to stay on track.  Read more about setting up a money management action plan.

Get help from MABS

If you’re struggling to manage your money or to make ends meet, or you feel like borrowing more is the only solution, help is available. Contact MABS we can help you to put shape on the problem. MABS can help with general money management advice and can support you to: 

  • Draw up a money management plan  
  • Check you’ve applied for all the benefits and entitlements you are due 
  • Make a payment plan for your bills  
  • Make a tackling debt plan and financial statement if you have debts 
  • Manage any changes in your circumstances 

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