1. Know your financial status
Work out exactly how much you are left with after all your fixed monthly installments are paid.

2. Ditch the denial 
A lot of people don’t want to draw up a budget because they don’t want to face the reality of their finances. Bottom line? If your income cannot handle your lifestyle you are in trouble. Admit it to yourself and see what you can do towards fixing it.

3) Keep a daily log of everything you spend
It’s a pain in the ass, yes, but you only need to do it for a week or so. This will help you identify your spending habits and give you a proper idea of areas where you can save.

4. Pay your debt smartly
Remember, debt is the big killer. Interest and compound interest take a chunk out of your bank balance every month without you getting any further with settling it. If you are paying high interest charges for credit cards, auto and personal loans and other debt, you could be wasting lots of money. Many homeowners have taken advantage of home equity loans to consolidate their debt into a single, smaller payment, often with considerably less interest charges, and one which may be tax deductible.
And remember, if you have any extra money pour that into your debt to settle it faster. You can’t have debt and save at the same time!

5. Distinguish between wants and needs
Go on, be honest. You don’t really NEED a R25 000 couch. Or that many pairs of designer jeans. Make a list of your expenses with the necessary stuff high on the list and the treats down low. And when your budget runs out before you got to the luxuries, tough. 

6. Become pro – active about your debt. See a registered debt counsellor
Do not leave things until it is too late. Go and see a registered debt counsellor who can – in accordance with the National Credit Act – negotiate with your creditors for much smaller repayments and protect you against any further legal action – i.e summonses, judgments, repossession.

7. Plan it with your partner
If you’re in a relationship you need to make financial plans with your partner. You have to work together as a team and both of you must make sacrifices.

8. Remember to update your budget regularly
Your finances are never static. Inflation changes, you should get a raise at least once a year and emergencies happen that mess up your planned budget. Do update your budget, and mindset, accordingly.

9.  Scale down
If your expenses exceed your income every month, perhaps you should think about scaling down. Renting in a cheaper area perhaps? Buying a cheaper house? Selling one of your children? Hah hah hah.

10. Stick to it
Much like a diet, a budget only works if you stick to it. Sure, you can fall off the wagon every now and then,  but it is important to get back on it!

Follow Women24 on Facebook and/or Twitter in November 2010 and stand to win a prize EVERY SINGLE DAY!