Finder makes money from featured partners, but editorial opinions are our own.

Budget planner: Wake up to waste

Use our free budget planner to create a personalised budget. Wake up to waste by planning your expenses like a pro.

Find a better deal

Get your free credit score and find new ways to save with the Finder app. Pop in your phone number below to get your download link.

With the cost of living going up, it's a great time to wake up to waste by setting a budget. To do this you need to look at where your money is going, what your essential expenses are and where you have capacity to save. Our free budget planner can make this process quick and easy.

Free budget planner

*Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this calculator, the results should only be used as an indication. They are neither a recommendation nor an eligibility test for any product and should not be construed as financial advice, investment advice or any other sort of advice.

Finder survey: On a scale of 1 to 5, how do Australians of different ages rate their budgeting habits?

Source: Finder survey by Pure Profile of 1004 Australians, December 2023

Tips for using the budget planner

  • Enter your income after tax. When you enter your income in the first section, make sure to enter your post-tax income. This is the income that lands in your bank account after tax has been taken out.
  • Decide on an individual vs joint budget. If you're putting together a budget just for you, simply leave the "net salary – partner" options empty. If you share income and expenses with a partner and want to create a joint budget, remember to factor this in when you're entering your expenses.
  • Pay attention to the payment frequency. You'll see there's a "frequency" option after each income source or expense. This can help you enter your spending without having to work out your annual spend (the tool will do this for you!). This is handy as you might get paid weekly, but have some expenses that come out monthly or even quarterly.
  • Add your rent under "other". If you're currently renting (as opposed to paying off a mortgage) you can enter your rent amount as "other" under "Living Expenses".
  • Identify all bills and repayments before you start. Go back through your transaction history for the past 12 months and identify all your bills and payments. Looking over a 12-month period will ensure you don't miss any, especially bills that are paid annually. For bills that change in cost, such as your quarterly energy bills, tally these up and work out the average cost over a year.
  • Work out your average food spend. It's unlikely you spend the same amount on groceries and other food every single week. Take a look at how much you usually spend on groceries, eating out and takeaway over a longer period instead, such as each month, to make these more accurate.
  • Analyse your past spending. It's difficult to guess how much you spend on things like clothes and household items in a given month, as this can change quite a lot. Tracking them over a monthly, 3-monthly or longer period by looking back at your transaction history will provide a more accurate picture of how much they are costing over the long run. It's better to put a rough figure in for this rather than to leave it blank.
  • Only include HECS and superannuation if you make extra payments for these. For most people with a HECS debt, your repayments will be deducted from your gross income along with tax. Unless you make extra voluntary payments, you don't need to add this into your budget as it's not coming from your post-tax income. This is the same for superannuation – if you make extra voluntary contributions you can add this in, otherwise it's already applied to your gross income.
  • Don't forget buy now pay later repayments. You can enter these as "Lay-bys" under the "Mortgage & Debt Repayments" tab. Look at your repayments over a few months to work out a more accurate spend for this.

Picture not described What to include in a budget

To make it as useful and accurate as possible, you need to include everything you spend money on in your budget. You might think it's not worth adding the odd coffee or magazine purchase as they're so small in value, but these little miscellaneous expenses can add up to quite a lot over a month.

You also need to add any purchases you make with cash. It can be hard to keep track of these as they're not listed in your bank account statement. If it's easier, you could look at how much cash you've withdrawn over the course of a month and, assuming you don't have any of it left in your wallet, add this amount as an "other" expense just to make sure it's captured.

Picture not described What if I'm spending too much?

When you finish entering in all your spending, you can see your total income versus expenses in the summary tab. If you're spending more than you're bringing in, you'll see a surplus figure that's negative. Even if it's not negative, if you don't have much leftover as a surplus it means you probably have room to save more.

Look for ways to save money and reduce your spending. A good place to start is your non-essential expenses – these are things you want but don't necessarily need. For example, can you cut back on ordering takeaway meals or dining out at restaurants? Are you spending more money on new clothes and household items than you thought you were?

Then, look at your bills and other household expenses. Can you save by switching to a cheaper energy provider, changing your mobile phone plan or cutting back on multiple streaming services?

Picture not described What do I do if I have money left over?

If you've got money left over, that's great! The goal of a budget is to ensure you're not spending more than you're bringing in, and also managing to save each month. What you do with the leftover money will depend on your financial goals.

Here are a few things you can do with your surplus cash:

  • Pay down any high-interest debt you have, such as a personal loan or credit card bill.
  • Add it to a high interest savings account to earn interest and grow your savings.
  • Invest it into the share market, for example via an exchange traded fund.
  • Add it to your offset account to reduce the interest repayments on your home loan.

If you're looking for more ways to reduce your spending and save, our budgeting hub has some strategies, tips and tricks to help you out.

Back to top

More guides on Finder

Ask a Question

You are about to post a question on

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder only provides general advice and factual information, so consider your own circumstances, or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. By submitting a question, you're accepting our 1. Terms Of Service and 6. Finder Group Privacy & Cookies Policy.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Go to site