If money and how to manage it stresses you out, then the topic of money management may seem like something you want to avoid.  However, avoidance is not the way to develop a healthy relationship with money.  If you or those around you don’t have healthy relationships with money, it doesn’t mean you can’t change things for the better.  With a few big shifts in the way you treat (and spend) money, you can positively shift your financial future to be one that's bright.  Then you can lead the way, demonstrating to family and friends that being financially independent is not only possible, but empowering and exciting too.  

Get a job

Once you start earning your own money is when you really begin a relationship with your finances.  A part time or casual job is a great idea as a starting point.  You will gain new skills, earn some cash and hopefully make some friends along the way!  Over time, you can work your way into a more senior role and either get a promotion or move to a new employer who can give you new opportunities to develop more skills.   

Many young people get a casual or part time job while they study.  Studying at TAFE, University or doing an apprenticeship is a great way to future-proof your finances.  Gain qualifications and skills to increase your employment options and potential earnings down the track.  


As soon as a regular income starts to grace your bank account, it’s time to budget.  It’s a word bandied around a lot, and it can mean different things to different people.  To keep it really simple, a budget is a money plan.  Basically a set of goals, specifically around where you want to direct your income.  Ideally, you want to direct some of what you earn to expenses, some to savings and some to pay any outstanding debt.   And of course include some ‘spending’ money for yourself in your budget.  Stuff like hobbies, socialising and treating yourself from time to time. But keep this realistic and budget for this after you’ve allocated funds toward your essentials such as living costs and ensure there is always enough left over to stash some into your savings.  

A budget also assists you to get clear about your priorities (what you should be spending your money on) and can help you to avoid spending all your pennies on the wrong things by bringing your awareness to where your money goes each month.  There are free budgeting apps available for your smartphone or device and banks usually have budgeting calculators on their websites.  Sometimes though, just a simple document on your laptop or keeping your records in a diary is just as good.  

Starting is the first step.  Begin to track how much you earn each week, whether this be via your job or other payments you receive.   Also, keep track of everything you buy or spend money on each day.  At the end of the month add it all up and you’ll see exactly how much money is coming in and how much is going out.  Once you get a clear idea of your income vs your spending, you can more carefully map out how to best way to manage your money.   If you realise you’re spending heaps on takeaway and movies, but don’t have enough at the end of the month for your bills, then you know you need to cook up at home more often and watch Netflix instead so you have some cash left for the essentials.   To help stay motivated, set yourself some financial goals, such as saving up a set amount by a certain date (keep it achievable).  Add to your budget what it is you are saving up for, so that when temptation strikes, you can keep focused on the long-term reward rather than short-term pleasures. 


The best way to get ahead financially is to have a savings plan.  Ideally, you want to put away a percentage of everything you earn.  The best way to do this is to put it away into an account dedicated to savings to keep it out of temptation.  An easy way to do this without too much effort is to arrange a direct debit to come out of your primary account.  Time it to be a couple of days after you get paid (whether this be weekly, fortnightly or monthly) so there’s always some funds to be moved over.  Once you’ve created a budget you should have an idea of what you can afford to put away into savings.  A good goal is 10% of your earnings.  So if you earn $1000 per month you can put aside $100 into your savings each month.  Over time, this will grow and grow.  Before you know it you’ll have some substantial savings to put toward a dedicated savings goal.  It might be a new car, a holiday or saving up to move out of home. 

Being able to track your earnings, spendings and savings is key to learning how to manage your money.  A regular income and a simple budget will assist you to plan for the future and grow your savings with success.  

Alison Gallagher is a freelance writer, resourcefulness expert and entrepreneur. She has been featured in various publications including Stellar Magazine, Australian Health and Fitness Magazine, and Cleo Magazine. Alison is particularly passionate about sharing practical tips on how to live simply, sustainably and seasonally.  

14 July 2023