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If you don’t know where to start, there are plenty of online budgeting tools and apps out there and many of them are free. Choose one that looks like it suits your lifestyle the most. For a good start, check out the tools on sorted.org.nz.
Work out how much you’re earning, how much you’re spending, what you owe (your liabilities) and what you own (your assets).
If most of your transactions are electronic, then internet banking or mobile banking are a great way of tracking your spending. If you prefer using pen and paper, try carrying around a notebook and jotting down everything you spend. After a month, add up your expenses into different categories, i.e. housing, eating out, petrol, phone, groceries etc. Don’t forget to include any automatic payments or direct debits you have going out, as well as irregular payments like your annual car insurance or rates bills.
Once you've got your head around your expenses, you can work out a budget. Remember: small steady progress is better than big lifestyle changes – just like a diet. Make sure you leave some money aside for fun stuff too, or you won’t stick to your plan.