06 Nov 2016

When you’re building or renovating your home budgeting for sustainable living is essential. Whilst eco-living choices can sometimes initially be a little pricier than traditional options, the long-term savings often easily outweigh their upfront costs.

So, how can you ensure you can include earth-friendly features in your home? By having a budget that works, you’ll be able to save money and include the green inclusions you’ve always wanted.

WORK OUT YOUR TIMING

Before you get started on planning your budget, it’s important to know exactly when your recurring bills are due to be paid. Most bills have a regular frequency, whether it be a set date each week, fortnight, month or annually. By knowing when expenses are due, you’ll be able to set a regular schedule for your bills to be paid and your savings to be set aside. A great trick is to have a simple month-by-month spreadsheet placed somewhere you visit regularly, perhaps on the fridge, that is quick and easy to read. Your bill spreadsheet should have what bills are due – and when.

DETERMINE NEEDS AND WANTS

We all want to spend our money on the things we love, but when you’re budgeting, it’s a good time to reevaluate what we love – and what we need. Do you really need to go to the movies each and every week? Is that new dress necessary? Or that latest piece of technology? Of course, there are payments and purchases that are mandatory such as electricity, groceries and petrol costs, to name a few. By determining which costs are necessary and which ones aren’t, you can start to narrow down what costs can be cut from your budget and which ones can’t.

LIST ALL EXPENSES

Once you know which bills are being paid when, list your costs by fixed expenses and variable ones. Fixed expenses are items such as rent or mortgage payments, insurance, rates and loan repayments. These are items that generally have a set amount on set dates. Your variable expenses will be ones such as food, electricity and gas and transportation costs. If possible use averages from the previous year to determine how much to set aside for such purchases.

LIST ALL INCOME

To know how much money you have to spend, make sure you don’t forget about all of your income. As well as your normal salary, don’t forget to think about other income sources such as investments, bonuses, bank interest, Government assistance or commissions and dividends. When you have a clear understanding of what income you are to expect, it will be easier to determine your savings, what you can afford and what must be paid.

DON’T SPLURGE ANY ADDITIONAL INCOME

Did you just get a pay rise at work? Don’t use this extra cash to waste on items and goods you don’t really need. There are plenty of sustainable living products and projects you can use this surplus money on!

ALLOW ROOM FOR FUN

Budgeting for those eco-friendly household items and services you really want doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun any more. Sure, you can still go out on weekends, but just like the rest of your expenses, it’s important to budget for your entertainment costs. If you have set aside an amount to spend on going out on the weekends, this is the only amount that you should allow to spend on such events. By budgeting for fun, you can ensure you still have an opportunity to let loose, but still reach your savings goals.

DON’T CHEAT!

Believe it or not, you can cheat on your budget. Perhaps you’re not including all your expenses, over-estimating your income or under-estimating your bills. No one is going to admonish you for cheating on your budget – as it will likely only be you that is tracking the budget and seeing where you’re going wrong! This means that the only person that you’re hurting is yourself. By cheating on your budget, the main consequence is having a higher debt than expected, or unexpected bills crop up, and this can make things difficult for you.

DON’T FORGET YOUR EMERGENCY FUND

When you’re budgeting for the items you know about, as well as the fun items such as entertainment, don’t forget to set aside some funds for any emergencies that may pop up. This is to cover anything unexpected such as car repairs, adjustments to the home or even unexpected breakages. By having an emergency fund, you’ll be able to make sure you’re not left in the lurch if anything unplanned happens to you.

By checking in on your budget and keeping tabs on your income and expenditure, you’ll be able to have a clear idea of how much money you have to spend on those sustainable living products you have your heart set on. Whether it’s a new home build or you’re looking at upgrading your current home’s needs, by having a good budget, you’ll be able to buy eco products that will last longer and provide long-term savings on your usual household costs.