If you have started feeling the financial pinch and are struggling to find surplus income in your budget, you may not know that this is far more common than you realise. However, being able to identify and utilise these extra funds appropriately can be immensely beneficial at any point in your life, regardless of whether you are still working, raising a family or even retired.

Compiling a realistic budget and reviewing each expense regularly will enable you to better understand how your money comes in and goes out each month and whether there is any possibility of surplus funds being located.

You could discover that your income is fixed (unless you are expecting an increase in pay or you are considering setting up a side business to bring in more money). This means that you will have to rather look at your expenses or outflow to determine whether any surplus funds can be made available, and household expenses are where you should start reviewing.

Itemising all Household Expenses

According to information obtained by the Australian Bureau of Statistics during their Household Expenditure Survey perform during 2009 – 2010; the average Australian family was spending approximately $1,236 per week. When broadly indexed for inflation to 2017, this amount has risen to around $1429 per week. Keep in mind though that your personal financial circumstances could result in your spending more or less than this per week.

Although the amount of $1,429 may not provide much information, you will be able to gain more insight of where your money is going by carefully examining each line item in your budget. Once you have broken your budget down this way, it will make it a lot easier for you to determine whether any changes or reductions in expenses can be applied.

The above mentioned survey noted that the $1,429 figure was broken down into the following types of expenses:

 Australian Bureau of Statistics* 

Household Expenditure Survey, Australia

Household expenditure categories

(goods and services)

Total goods and services expenditure

($)

Total goods and services expenditure

(%)

 Current housing costs (selected dwelling) 258 18.0
 Domestic fuel and power 38 2.6
 Food and non-alcoholic beverages 236 16.5
 Alcoholic beverages 37 2.6
 Tobacco products 15 1.0
 Clothing and footwear 51 3.6
 Household furnishings and equipment 68 4.7
 Household services and operation 78 5.5
 Medical care and health expenses 76 5.3
 Transport 223 15.6
 Recreation 187 13.1
 Personal care 28 1.9
 Miscellaneous goods and services 135 9.4
 Total 1,429 100.0

This was further broken down into various secondary expenses, as shown below:

Australian Bureau of Statistics* 

Household Expenditure Survey, Australia

Household expenditure 

(Food and non-alcoholic beverages)

Total food and non-alcoholic beverages expenditure

($)

Total of food and non-alcoholic beverages expenditure

(%)

 Bakery products, flours and cereals 23.60 10
 Meat (excluding fish and seafood) 28.73 12
 Fish and seafood 5.65 2
 Eggs and egg products 1.62 1
 Dairy products 17.41 7
 Edible oils and fats 1.98 1
 Fruits and nuts 14.40 6
 Vegetables 15.83 7
 Condiments, confectionary, food additives and prepared meals 26.24 11
 Non-alcoholic beverages 18.49 8
 Meals out and fast foods 72.75 31
 Other food and non-alcoholic beverages 9.27 4
 Total 235.96 100

If you are not sure how to itemise all of your spending habits, it may be an idea to track each of your transactions by using shop receipts and your bank statements over a period of one to three months. This will enable you to better understand how your money is being spent.

Post-itemising all of your Household Expenses

After you have compiled a detailed list of your household expenses, you will need to check it to see whether any changes can be made anywhere or not. Below are jus ta few potential areas that may be able to be adjusted.

Wants vs. Needs

Making any decisions regarding whether an expense is a want or need will often vary throughout your lifetime, and it will also depend on several different factors. However, in most cases, bare essentials or needs can be categorised as having clean drinking water, shelter, healthy food, transport to and from work and the ability to obtain all of these – in other words, a job.

Although it is not always a good idea to cut out all of your ‘want’ expenses, it is important that you know the difference between genuine needs and luxury items. Understanding this difference is what will enable you to see which parts of your budget may need to be reduced accordingly.

Utility Accounts

Although having electricity to remain comfortable, keep food fresh in your fridge, prepare nutritious meals, wash clothing and bath or shower is essential, this doesn’t mean that you cannot gain the support of your family to try and see whether any cutbacks can be made with regards to energy consumption.

For example, encourage family members to turn lights off in rooms that are not being used. Only use the air-conditioner if it is unbearably hot and humid. Only wash clothing if you have a full load. Turn off any appliances or tech gadgets that are not being used – standby mode uses a fair amount of electricity.

Check the Services you are Paying for

Although you might not give your recurring monthly service payments much thought, these could really add up over time. Examples of service payments include gym memberships, Stan, Foxtel Now, Netflix, Internet plans and even newspaper or magazine subscriptions.

Going through each of these expenses and evaluating offers from available competitors could help you determine whether you would be able to obtain cheaper alternatives elsewhere – provided that you would be getting the same quality of service if you change though. It will also enable you to see if you aren’t perhaps paying for services that you no longer use.

It’s important to keep in mind that GST has now also been applied to streaming services, so you will need to keep this in mind if unexpected increases have occurred for any online subscription services.

Curbing Food Wastage

It has been determined that Australians are known for wasting more than $10 billion worth of food each year. This amounts to just over $20 per household per week, or just over $1,000 per year. This is not only a matter of food that is being thrown away. It can be translated into many hours of hard work that earned the money to purchase the food as well – money that could in fact be put to better use elsewhere.

Another way to reduce your expenditure on food is to prepare a weekly or monthly meal plan and then only purchase the items required for it. This can help curb impulse spending in the junk food aisle and it will ensure that you only purchase food you know will be used before it spoils.

Once you have assessed your household expenses, compiled a realistic budget and have managed to find areas where you can take advantage of surplus income, why not contact us to find out how you can invest it and make it work for you over the long term? Our team will be able to help you understand just how beneficial it could be to have this money working for you over time.