The Easter break, coupled with school holidays can leave us exhausted – physically, and financially. After several weeks of outings, now’s the time to take a breath and make a plan to get your savings back on track.

Creating a budget is the only way to know if you have enough money to save, pay bills, or play with.

So, start with a list. There are many apps available that are easy to use, can be updated and allow you to set calendar reminders and savings targets.

Use your pay date each week, fortnight or month, and then list all the bills and payment due dates. These generally fall into one of three categories – regular repayments, essentials, and entertainment costs or indulgences.

The golden rule is to pay down debt first. Whilst everything must be repaid - it is very useful to rank your debt from the highest to lowest interest rate and how long you are paying it off for. Then, make it a priority to chip away extra at the debt with the highest interest rates first.

In preparing a budget, be upfront and honest with yourself. It is important to identify all the outgoings, big and small. Make sure that you keep updating the list regularly as your circumstances will likely change over time. List utilities, such as insurance, loan repayments, fees, credit cards, phone and internet plans that make up a large part of your expenses. Many also utilise entertainment subscriptions and rentals, such as Pay TV, or streaming services, so don’t forget to add those in. You may even have a few left-over Christmas and Mad March expenses that also need to be paid off.

Lastly, when you consider your small outgoing costs such as Uber, take-away meals, and those (much-needed, yet expensive) morning coffees it can add around $25 a week to your usual expenses. Whilst this may seem like a small amount it quickly adds up to $1300 over the course of a year.

When you monitor these outgoing costs, it makes it easier to identify where savings can be made. Sometimes cutting back on those weekly treats can be the perfect kick-start to growing and developing a savings pattern that works for you. Before you know it, you may even have enough in the kitty to cover all of next year’s Mad March expenses.