Your Finances, Your Way
Staying in control of your finances and keeping out of debt isn’t rocket science: it just requires good practices and a little forward planning.
It’s no secret that everyday living can be expensive, and unless managed well, those expenses can easily snowball to create a debt that’s bigger than Ben Hur.
Despite our best intentions, there are a variety of circumstances that can contribute to us falling into debt. Whether it’s a sudden reduction in your income because you have had to stop work due to illness, or simply because you have forgotten to prioritise paying bills as a result of feeling stressed about living with HIV, debt can happen to any of us.
The best way to handle debt, or avoid it all together, is to have a budget plan in place to ensure your income can cover your expenses, as well as your everyday living and recreational costs.
This booklet is designed to give practical advice on managing your finances, offer tips on reducing everyday expenses, and arm you with the right tools to avoid debt. It also provides a list of organisations that can support and advise you on a range of financial issues.
Types of Debt
Keeping Track of Your Finances
It’s important to make the most out of every day, and with that comes unavoidable expenses such as rent, mortgage, groceries – the list goes on.
In order to keep track of your expenses or any debts you might have incurred, it’s important to take a bigger picture approach.
A good starting point is to devise a yearly planner. You can begin by making a list of all your monthly living expenses and note when each payment is due.
Next, make a list of all your income by month. This will allow you to plan any months where there is not enough income to meet your expenses. By knowing when payments are due and when money is available to meet them, it is possible to get an idea of your cash flow and then build a budget around it.
With budgeting, it’s a good idea to list your expenses according to importance. This list is unique to everyone but there are three givens that should be on your list:
Outside of this, you should prioritise other expenses accordingly. Some people may choose to pay their credit card and not their rent, for example. The bank might be happy with this, but your landlord won’t, and you certainly don’t want to jeopardise the roof over your head.
To help sort out your day-to-day expenses, it is a good idea to keep your monthly receipts to identify just what you’re spending your money on. If you can’t be issued a receipt, simply jot down the expense in a notebook.
Armed with this knowledge you can start making informed decisions around which expenses you can reduce, find cheaper elsewhere or eliminate altogether.