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Creating a family budget

6-minute read

Key facts

  • Creating a family budget can help you understand where your money is going and find better ways to manage your income.
  • After working out your budget you will be able to see how much money you can afford to save
  • Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to get financial support such as family tax benefits, dental benefits, parental leave or child support.
  • Having an emergency fund can be a very important step in avoiding significant stress if you experience a loss of income or need to cover urgent and unexpected expenses.

What are the benefits of creating a family budget?

A family budget is a plan to help you see where your money is going.

By examining how much money you have coming in (income) and going out (expenses), you'll be able to see if you are spending more than you can afford. This could help you make changes that will let you save for the future and be better prepared for unexpected emergencies.

A budget can help you balance your spending and saving, and take control of your finances. Creating a budget can help a range of different people, in different family circumstances, including if you're a single parent, if you're living off one or 2 incomes, or relying on Centrelink benefits.

Creating a budget can help you understand your financial goals and make it easier to set your spending limits.

How do I get a budget started?

First, work out exactly how much money you have coming in and going out. You will need bank and credit card statements, pay slips, benefit statements, bills, and anything else that records how you currently get income and use your money.

To get you started, you could download an online planner like ASIC's Moneysmart Budget Planner. Many banks also offer online budget planners for their customers to use.

What should I include in a budget?

To work out your family budget you should think about your entire income, including:

  • take-home pay (after tax income)
  • overtime
  • bonuses
  • income from savings or investments
  • Centrelink benefits
  • any other money you have coming in

Then work out how much you spend, including:

  • Spending on your home: Mortgage or rent, gas, electricity, water, rates, maintenance, internet, phones and pay TV.
  • Groceries: Everything you spend at the supermarket or other food shops.
  • Insurance and financial payments: Car, home and contents, life, income protection, pet and car insurance. Also include payments on your car loan, any other loans or debts, credit card interest, and charity donations.
  • Medical costs: Medicines, doctors' bills, pharmacy costs, glasses and health fund premiums, as well as veterinary bills. If you are having a baby, think about extra costs like private hospital, specialist fees and medical imaging.
  • Personal costs: Everything you spend on personal care and grooming, clothing, hobbies, computers, the gym and education.
  • Entertainment: Include money for eating out, going to the movies, holidays, buying gifts, books and magazines, and alcohol.
  • Transport: Train, bus or ferry, petrol, tolls, car registration, driver's licence, fines, car repairs.
  • Children: Baby products, clothes (including school uniforms and other school costs), babysitting, childcare, preschool, children's activities.

It is also a good idea to look at the entire year because some things, like gas and electricity, cost more at different times throughout the year.

How do I manage my budget?

Once you know how much you spend on each item, you can work out how much money you need each week. It is a good idea to build a 'buffer' into the budget, so you have money available for an emergency.

If you spend more than you earn, it will now be easier for you to find ways to reduce your spending. If you are spending less than you earn, you can start thinking about a savings plan.

Sticking to a family budget isn't always easy. If you work out where you can make savings, you will be in a much better position to set long term goals for your family. This can include things you want, and not only things you need.

Resources and support

If you have young children, you may be eligible for a range of government subsidies and benefits including:

Services Australia can help you access financial support, for example, any benefits you might be entitled to.

Speak to your bank about opening a fee-free bank account for savings.

Consider using a free Commonwealth financial counsellor, or speak to a private financial advisor.

The ASIC Moneysmart website has plenty of tips on managing your money, and you can go to the BudgetPlanner page to keep track of your spending.

If you are a teenage parent or live in a rural area, you can contact Services Australia to help you get financial support including any benefits you are entitled to.

Do you need urgent help with money? Read the ASIC Moneysmart guide for tip on how to get emergency financial relief and other support.

Services Australia also has a free Financial Information Service to help you make decisions about your money.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: June 2023

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