Getting started with a budget
You can create your budget easily by using our budget planner or by downloading the budgeting spreadsheet. Before using the planner, make sure you prepare and check out the following:
- Collect your financial statements, including bank statements, investment accounts, receipts and any other information on income sources and expenses.
- Make a list of your total monthly income, including your salary, income from self-employment or investments, and any other sources.
- Itemise your actual expenses for the last month, or so. It can help to do this by doing a spending diary. Don’t forget to include your one-off expenses such as gifts, insurance policies and your taxes! For annual or other non-monthly payments, divide the total annual amount by 52 or 12 to determine how much to set aside every week or month.
- Investments such as financial products and property, are also cash outflow, even though they are your assets (value may go up or down). This means you need to carve out this amount from your funds for discretionary spending.
Saving towards your goals
Once you have created your budget, you can easily see if you are spending more or less than you earn. If you are spending more, use the budget planner to identify areas to cut back. If you have surplus funds, you can use this money to save or invest. Set yourself some clear and realistic saving goals – you will find it easier to save money when you know why you are saving. Start with immediate saving goals, such as paying off your credit cards or getting out of debt. Saving for an emergency fund should also be a priority.
Whatever goals you have set, review your progress regularly and mark the review date in your diary. And when you have achieved one goal, set another to keep up the motivation for regular saving. Of course, don’t forget to reward yourself every now and then for realising your goals!
Use our savings goal calculator to check how your savings can grow. It will help you work out how much you need to save each week, month and year in order to reach a savings goal, or if you plan to save a certain amount how long it will take for you to achieve your savings target.
Control your expenses and start saving
Having prioritised your saving goals, you then need to develop a saving plan by writing down ways you can save money towards your goals, for example, to save at least 10% of your monthly income. You may adjust the saving rate depending on your financial situation and saving goals but remember to make it realistic.
Use our budget planner to see where you could cut back on non-essential items like entertainment, dining out and shopping, memberships, etc. The general rule of thumb should be to reduce spending on optional extra but not to exclude entirely all those little enjoyments in life.
You can even save on essential items. For example, you can reduce transportation expenses by sticking to MTR and buses and minimise taxi ride. You can also find ways to become more energy-efficient at home and cut down on utility bills.