So “spending plan” is the new buzz word to replace “budget”. It seems like “budget” has too much baggage. It’s tight, restrictive, boring, inhibiting and just plain dull.

Whereas “spending plan” has a little more appeal. It has possibilities and a little bit of freedom. It seems like I’m in charge of it and we could work together. It’s about spending – and I’m pretty good at that already – so I should be able to work a spending plan. Right?

Right!

Start with your essential expenses – your rent or mortgage, your utilities, rates, levies, insurance, car rego – all those things that must be paid. Write them down or enter them into a spreadsheet.

Then look at your non-essential expenses – gym membership, groceries, eating out and drinking out, subscriptions, travel expenses, clothes, shoes, entertainment, birthday presents – all that other stuff. Write it down.

Then savings. Is there any left for savings or are you in the red already?

Once you’ve written it all down and added it up, see if it needs tweaking. If your savings aren’t high enough, it will definitely need tweaking. You can start with utilities and insurance. Often a phone call to your provider to see if you’re on the best plan will result in savings – especially if you mention taking your business elsewhere. Are you spending a fortune on going to the supermarket every couple of days? Would a menu plan and shopping list help keep you on track?

Find ways to plug the holes that are leaking money. Find ways to be more mindful of your spending.

My #1 tip is to include some play money every month – money that you can spend however you want without justification. If you don’t spend it this month, save it for next month.

Live on that plan for a month, tweak it, then another month. Make it part of your thought process and daily life.

The best part about a spending plan – besides the fact that it usually moves you from mindless spending to mindful spending, is that if you’re applying for a home loan, lenders love to see an actual, working, real life spending plan.

Good luck! Make it work for you. You’ll thank yourself.