Budgeting for financial freedom

Guest contributor: Wedzi Garwe

Budgeting often gets a bad rap for being overly restrictive, but it’s actually just a smart way to make the most of your resources. As Dave Ramsey wisely puts it, “A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.” The key isn’t just how much you make but how you spend it.

In my 16+ years in the financial services industry, including a decade as a financial advisor, I’ve seen many cases where households earning in excess of what most other people earn, still struggle to get ahead. The challenge often lies in their spending behaviour. They lack a manageable budget. 

Budgeting is not about restricting your freedom but about allocating funds for personal spending, daily household needs, and future investments. This ensures a financial lifeline for a time when working becomes less feasible, allowing you to maintain your envisioned lifestyle.

So, how do you take control of your budget? Start by examining your spending habits. Identify the culprits that are ‘stealing’ both your money and your financial energy. These are the things that don’t give you ‘juice’—activities that lack passion, excitement, and a sense of financial freedom.

What do I mean by juice? It’s that feeling you get from activities you’re passionate about—ones that provide relief, confidence, and certainty. Understanding where your money is going is crucial for addressing challenges in reaching your financial goals and adding more excitement and joy to your life.

If you neglect to pinpoint where your money is disappearing, achieving your financial goals becomes a near-impossible task. The consequence? You may find yourself feeling financially frustrated and worried about not progressing fast enough.

Here’s a practical tip: Take a close look at your bank statements. Tweak and refine your spending habits, identifying areas to cut and where to allocate more towards your lifestyle. Aim to end this process with a healthy surplus. With this surplus, confidently decide what to do with your money—whether it’s buying a new car, planning a holiday, or even getting that dream boat. 

Your financial freedom is entirely in your hands.

Ready to start budgeting for your financial freedom? Moneysmart.gov.au  has a free template that can help set you on the right path. 

Wedzi’s top five financial tips for migrants

  • Give within your means – If you’re going to help your family back home, set a budget and stick to it.
  • Be realistic about where you are and honest with yourself about your finances.
  • Keep in mind you are running your own race – comparison can force you into doing things that you may not be ready for yet.
  • A budget is not meant to restrict you. It allows you to allocate the resources that you have towards the most important things to you.
  • Remember “No” is a complete sentence. Say no to things that may lend you in financial strife i.e. credit cards

Wedzi’s top five financial tips for international students

  1. Live within your means – spend less than you make.
  2. Remember where you came from –  your family is different from your friend’s family, don’t spend your time trying to keep up with the Joneses.
  3. Focus on the step you’re on. After you complete your studies depending on what you decide to do you will be able to create the life you want for yourself. 
  4. If you’re going to be helping your family, set a budget for it and give within that budget – if you don’t have money to give – YOU DON’T, have money to give.
  5. Keep it simple and focus on why you are here – keep the main thing the main thing. You know what needs to happen for you to get here.


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