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Lazy person's guide to getting money-savvy: ‘Just 10 minutes’

The author of Girls Just Wanna Have Funds shows you how to get on top of your finances in five easy steps.

Composite image of money and a woman smiling because her budget allows her to shop for a handbag.
Budgeting doesn't mean you have to miss out on the fun stuff. (Source: Getty)

I will lose it if I read another article where they simply say ‘just budget’ as if it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. If it was, we’d all be sipping our homemade lattes feeling unstressed by money as we look at our Excel spreadsheet.

The reality is that budgeting is easier said than done, and I would know. I’ve been helping thousands of women get better with money and take control of their spending through my company, Ladies Finance Club.

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So, if you think there’s nothing more depressing, scary, or boring than getting your money sorted – and you would prefer to stick a fork in your eye than open Excel – I have you covered.

Here are five simple and fast methods that any time-poor (or lazy) person can do:

1. Save for something that excites you

“I’m not good with money” I heard my bestie say the other day but, my god, she was good when she was scanning Zara’s Black Friday sale website and when she was identifying which share riding service could get us home the cheapest.

The thing is, when something excites or interests us, we care about it. So, we need to get interested in our money, and a great way to do this is to save for something we really want. I see women clueless about their money but, as soon as they decide they want to buy a house, they get their money sorted lightning fast. One way to do this is to grab a notepad (or use notes in your phone) and write out what you want to achieve with your money. Next, put a dollar sign and a date on it.

Example: Travel to France and do a wine course in July 2024, which will cost $7,000. Now you can put a plan together.

2. You don't have to be a spreadsheet warrior

Hate a spready? I hear you. I’ve never been that person who inputs every latte into Excel - some people are and you might be, but I’m not. My brain just doesn’t work like that and it’s way too much effort.

There are two main budgeting methods I break down in my new book, Girls Just Wanna Have Funds: zero-based budgeting and the 50/30/20 rule.

The 50/30/20 rule is simply where you set up three accounts, label them, and move that percentage of money into them each paycheque (I like to give mine nicknames because Treat Yo Self Account just seems a bit more exciting than Account: 407652).

Example: Let’s say $10k hits your account every month. From that, $5,000 - or 50 per cent - goes to the Financially Adulting account for the boring but important things (bills, mortgage, rent - you get the gist). Then, $3,000 - or 30 per cent - goes to Fun Money (or the Treat Yo Self) account (for brunch, lunch, clothes, travels, etc). Finally, $2,500 - or 20 per cent - goes to the Future Me (for investments, property, extra into super, etc) account.

Then, the day after payday, you set up an automation so all money is split into the different accounts. You don't even have to touch it.

This is just a rule of thumb and you can change the percentages (especially if one account is coming in higher than another). Some of our Ladies Finance Club members like to set up extra accounts as well, including ones for Christmas, self-care, holidays, and future homes. It’s your money so you can come up with your own system and percentages - just remember it can be really confusing to save and spend all from one account.

3. Where did all my money go?

Another easy win for money-lazy people is to download a budgeting app and let it show you exactly where your money has been going. It categorises your money into different areas, such as groceries, bills and health, so you have a complete overview of your spending. WeMoney and Frollo are great free apps to check out, and they allow you to also set goals and will alert you when you have an upcoming bill or if you’re going over your allocated amount in a certain category. The Australian government’s MoneySmart site also has a very simple online budget tool you can use.

4. Automation is life

One of the best moves a lazy person can make is to automate as much in their life as possible. You can set up direct debits that transfer money from your accounts to other accounts, like a gym membership or mobile payment. The beauty of setting up direct debits or automatic payments is that you don’t have to remember to find logins or pay the bill, and you won’t be charged any lame late fees.

It’s important to review your direct debits every few months and always ensure you have enough money in your account. When you want to stop a direct debit, you can just cancel it via your bank or via the providers you set it up with.

One thing to note about direct debiting is that it allows the company to access your bank account to pay your bill. Setting up a regular BPAY or transfer schedule instead allows you to be in control of paying your bills via direct credit because you have the power to cancel it. Things you can automate include mobile plans, gym memberships, insurances, electricity, internet, to name a few.

5. Get bang for your buck

Kill Bills and Easy Money author Joel Gibson says if you’re not negotiating with your bill suppliers at least once a year, you’re leaving money on the table. So, give them a call, but do your research first so you know what competitors are offering.

You can use this script when you call up:

“Hi, my name is __________ and I have been a customer for about __________. I’m looking to get a better deal on my __________ bill, please. I’m currently paying _____________. What can you do for me? I’ve had a look around and found __________ company is offering a better deal. Can you beat it? Otherwise, I will have to consider leaving.”

Remember, the worst thing that can happen is they say no, and the best thing that can happen is they say YAS!

The things I have mentioned above all take less than 10 minutes to complete. Being good with money doesn’t have to be a massive time suck and, although it might seem boring, getting on top of your money is one of the best forms of self-care (and your future self will high-five you).

Most of the time we put things off even though when we sit down to actually do said task it takes us way less time than we imagine. So, if you want to make 2023 your best year yet, grab a copy of Girls Just Wanna Have Funds and your bestie, and go sort that money.

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