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6 tips to take control of your money

woman working on computer while holding baby
Credit: iStock.com/Kerkez

As humans we all have the in-built Fear of Missing Out.  Nobody wants to be the one who has to say no when their children ask for a new toy or when their friends ask them to join them on holiday.  

With social media saturation this pressure is magnified when everybody is being bombarded with constant images of friends and colleagues (and their families) enjoying amazing experiences. 

And it seems some budgeting and money management tips might be useful for a large number of Australian families, based on the results of the recent First Five Years Snapshot of Australian Families survey, which found 40% of parents surveyed have struggled to meet essential expenses like food, mortgage/rent, utility bills, child care or important medical care over the past 12 months and 29% of families do not believe they have enough money left after essential expenses to purchase much of anything they really want.

Here are six tips, so you can enjoy more amazing experiences, because it is more likely to be you rather than your income that is preventing you from experiencing your aspirations. 

Tip #1- Take Time to Reflect

For most of us life is routine, almost run on autopilot.  You know the feeling, you are driving the same route you take every day and then you realise it is the morning.  You have a doctor’s appointment for one of your children and you are going totally in the wrong direction.

Well, this is also how most people run the financial part of their lives, on autopilot – money in via a direct credit from their employer and money out largely via direct debits and/or on the credit card and hope at the end of month the two equal.

When was the last time you took time out to truly reflect on:  

  • What motivates you get up when the alarm clock goes off?  Even if you do not bounce out of bed each day, there must still be a reason even if it as basic as to provide your family with the best opportunities.
  • What are the core non-negotiables you want your money to provide you and your family?  
  • What are the aspirations you have for yourself and your family?  
  • Why are these aspirations important to you?
  • What would it mean to you if you could experience these aspirations?

Tip #2- Have the Money Talk 

When was the last time you had an in depth discussion about money with your partner (if you are in a relationship) or with someone you trust (if you are single)?  

And not – When are you going to get a pay rise?  And then the other responds, well why did you spend so much doing such and such last week?  And then the other responds well you spend more than I do?  And both then just walk away frustrated.  

But more like – What the non-negotiables you want money to provide for our family? Then the other asks what are yours?  Then what are your aspirations?  And what significance do these aspirations hold for you?  How important are these to you?  What are your worries?

If you feel uncomfortable or do not know where to start a facilitator may help. 

Tip #3- Set a Vision Board

The benefits of visualisation have been known for decades.   

Once you have had your money talk (see tip #2) and you have identified the aspirations, which hold the most significance for you (either as a couple or as an individual if you are not in a couple) buy a white piece of strong cardboard paper, find images that represent your aspirations, stick them on the cardboard and place your vision board on your fridge.  Alternatively, set up a vision board as your computer screen saver.  Over time your subconscious will see you redirect your spending from frivolous items and into the areas that are truly important to you.

Tip #4- Record

Now, you have done all of the preparation and you are excited about your aspirations for the future, it is time to record all your spending so you know exactly how much is going where.  I know, can I spend my time doing anything more boring? And spreadsheets scare the hell out of me.  Well the good news is that there are now plenty of free websites, which will now do all the work for you. Take a look at these free sites: www.budgettracket.com.au, www.getpocketbook.com, www.myprosperity.com.au.

Tip #5- Check In and Organise

Once you have a few months’ worth of data it is time to reflect and go through where you are spending and start redirecting from the frivolous areas to saving for those aspirations, which are most significant for you.

Tip #6- Reset

As you know, life does not stand still, circumstances change, aspirations change.  Therefore, I recommend you repeat this process every six months.

In no time you will be in control of your money rather than your money controlling you and your motivation will only increase as your aspirations get closer and closer.


Justin McMillan is an Authorised Representative of RI Advice Group Pty Limited (ABN 23 001 774 125), AFSL 238429. This information (including taxation) is general in nature and does not consider your individual circumstances or needs. Do not act until you seek professional advice and consider the relevant Product Disclosure Statement. The views expressed in this publication are solely those of the author; they are not reflective or indicative of RI’s position and are not to be attributed to RI. They cannot be reproduced in any form without the express written consent of the author.

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