How to start loving your budget (or at least not minding it)

Budgeting can be fun! If you’re rolling your eyes right now, you’re not alone – 1 in 3 Kiwis have never set any type of budget. The idea can seem daunting, but sometimes it’s all about mindset. A successful budget isn’t all about being restrictive – it’s about having some control of your money, and choosing how you want to make your money work. You can start small, and eventually being good with money can become a lifelong habit! 

Set money dates (fun ones) 

Sitting down to work through a simple budget doesn’t have to be all office chairs and calculators. If you’re setting a personal budget, have a date with yourself at your favourite café. Ask a close friend who’s wise with money to help out, or at least enjoy a flat white with you. If you’re setting a budget with a partner, you can set an evening to enjoy a glass of wine and snacks while you work through your expenses. Go out, if that’s your thing – all you need is access to your bank statements, maybe a pen and some paper. Since budgeting isn’t a set and forget, book in a regular review – perhaps fortnightly or monthly to begin with.  

Keep spending on what you really love 

Yes, you read that right – you can keep spending money on fun stuff even on a budget. You just can’t keep spending everything on ALL the fun stuff. The 50/30/20 budgeting system can be a good approach, since it still allows 30% of your income to be spent on ‘wants’. 50% is spent on ‘needs’ (like rent, bills, food) and 20% is spent on ‘financial goals’, whether that’s saving for a rainy day, for something special, or paying off debt. 

Remind yourself of the outcomes

  It’s always helpful to have goals so you know what you‘re working towards. If you’re saving for a rainy day, have a target to reach by a specific date – you can gift yourself a little treat once you get there. Saving for Christmas? Work out how much you think you’ll need. Or, if you’re saving to become debt free, remind yourself what that will mean – more money for a holiday, eating out, or just some serious satisfaction! 

Get creative 

Think of a budget as a way to get creative with spending. Love your kids having all the toys? Considered the local toy library. Wish your house looked like an indie showroom? Have fun trawling TradeMe for unique finds instead.  Love taking your partner out for dinner? The weather’s warming up – consider beachside picnics and fish and chips in the evening sun. 

Set monthly (or weekly) challenges  

If sticking to a big budget seems like a daunting task, break it down into easier to handle chunks, and make it fun. Love your takeaways just a little too much? Challenge yourself to none for a month. Spend too much on barista coffee? Keep it plunger for a week. 

Make realistic saving habits 

You might have heard of a few ‘golden rules’ when it comes to saving – including putting away 10% or 20% for a rainy day. Which is all great in theory, but isn’t going to achieve much if you’re always dipping into savings for groceries or a sneaky new shoe purchase. You also might have other financial goals to achieve alongside saving – like paying off debt. If you find saving hard, start small – you’ll be more likely to succeed, and success will be satisfying enough to keep going.