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Budgeting helps you have a better life

It's rare when anyone holds up the behaviour of politicians as a good example but Peter Costello's Budget effort deserved more praise than it received.
In fact what he did, like other treasurers' before him, if it was seen as it should be, could save a lot a people from a very unhappy retirement.
No, I'm not talking about the tax cuts, the childcare handouts and the carrots for retirees - I'm talking about the very act of doing a budget itself.
A Plum Financial Services survey found three out of five Aussies are worried about their position in retirement. And four out of five of us feel our compulsory 9 per cent super paid by bosses each payday will not deliver a comfortable retirement.
As the estimated mean super balance for 60-64 year old men is around $108,400 nowadays and for women the figure is an even more worryingly $36,600, it's no time for head-in-the-sand ostriches.
And worse still, industry figures say 75 per cent of Australians will finish working with less than $87,000 in their super.
So, how do you turn this problem around?
In simple terms, you have to find a financial adviser or become your own adviser and you have to change what you're currently doing. That's where the Treasurer comes in.
It's time to bring out the 'Peter Costello' in you and do a budget for yourself, but it's easier said than done.
I did a spot on Sydney radio last week and callers showed a real reluctance to embrace the budget caper. They see it as tedious, a killjoy and something that's too hard to stick to.
And those criticisms are valid but once you nail it and commit to it, I reckon it will turn around a hell of a lot of your life.
The big difference between the normal person and the high achiever is the willingness to stick it out. It explains why some sports heroes make it while other young sports stars go missing in action.
Chris Evert, the great US woman tennis star once said: "I wanted to win so badly, I could actually will it to happen."
Now I know money doesn't fall out of the sky and many of us have unlucky circumstances but others waste money because they don't budget. It also means we don't have savings to invest or cash to use for borrowings to invest.

The budget, like that old Gerry Maguire line, shows you the money, and then with guidance, you can use salary sacrifice and other tax-effective strategies to turbo charge your super. 

Published on: Saturday, May 19, 2007

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