Budgeting & saving

Save your money for what you want

A budget helps you control how much money you spend. This helps you save money.
The less you spend on little things like takeaway food or magazines, the more you have to save for big things like fridges, beds and washing machines.

Make a budget

Video: Financial capability workers share budgeting and saving tips

Video of budgeting and saving tips from Financial capability workers

Indigenous money experts in the NT share their ideas on how to budget and save money.

To start your budget, use our online budget planner or get a pen and some paper.

Budget planner

Decide whether you want to do a budget over a week or a fortnight.

Add up all the money you receive over the time period such as:

  • Your paid job
  • Your pension
  • Any Centrelink benefits or Community Development Employment Projects (CDEP) payments
  • Any other money people in your household might contribute

Now add up all of the money you spend over the same time period. This could be:

  • Picture of groceriesRent or mortgage
  • Bills for electricity, gas or telephone and insurance
  • Food
  • Travel such as public transport and the costs of your car like registration, petrol and insurance
  • Loans or debts you have to pay back, such as car loans or personal loans
  • Extras such as magazines, gifts, cigarettes or alcohol

Case study: Sam and Sarah's weekly budget

Money coming in Money going out
Wages $350 Rent $150
CDEP $50 Food $100
Other benefits $50 Bills $50
- Travel $50
- Extras $50
Total: $450 Total: $400

Sam and Sarah have $50 extra to put towards their savings. Before they go to the shops, they look at their budget and see that they can only spend $100 on food.

Don't be pressured into buying anything. If you don't need or want something, say no. This will help you avoid getting into debt. See door-to-door sales for more information.

Government concessions and assistance

Some people receive payments from the Government to help them pay for their home, food or bills or help them find a job. The Department of Human Services has lots of information about the different payments and concessions available. 

Picture of a budgetIncome management

Some communities have income management in place, organised through Centrelink. This is where Centrelink will set aside a percentage of your benefits that can only be spent on essential goods and services such as food, housing, clothing, education and health care. For more information read the income management webpage on the Department of Human Services website or call their Indigenous Australians call centre on 1800 136 380.

If you can't pay your bills or are spending more than you earn

Don't panic. See a financial counsellor, or visit your local financial capability worker

For more information see get help with money.

Save what's left over


Picture of a savings planIf you're like Sam and Sarah and you have some money left over after paying your bills and buying essential items, you should save it either for something special like going to an event in your nearest town or community or for a big purchase like a fridge.

The best way to save is to spend less money. Think about cutting back on the things you buy that are not essential like takeaway food, gifts and magazines.

Case study: Sam and Sarah save money

Sam and Sarah want to visit Sarah's family next month and it will cost them $200 to get there. So Sam takes his lunch to work instead of buying it at the cafe. Sarah stops buying magazines and doesn't buy any new clothes for a month. Before they go on their trip they have saved $250.

Another way to save is to put money away where you won't be tempted to spend it.

Every time you are paid, give yourself a set amount for food and bills. Put the rest into a savings account that gives you a high interest rate. For every dollar you save, the bank will add a little bit extra. Your savings will grow just by being in the account. For more information see savings accounts or use our savings goals calculator.

Work out how long it will take to meet your savings targets.

Savings goals calculator

Listen to our audio segments on budgeting and saving.

Saver Plus

Saver Plus is a program to help families on low incomes develop savings habits. It helps you reach a saving goal and then matches it dollar for dollar, up to $500. Find out more about Saver Plus.

Budgeting and saving your money will help you afford the things you want in your life. Start now with our online budget planner.

Related links

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this website may contain images and voices of deceased people.

Last updated: 30 Oct 2019