Boss Lady

The simple 7 step guide to managing your money better


Most people don’t like to think about “managing” their money. Sure, “spending” is fine. But “managing” money — suddenly that sounds like work — confusing work! But the good news is, it doesn’t have to be. After years of teaching households how to look after their finances, we can tell you that you don’t need high-level financial skills to be a great money manager.  Better still, you don’t need to spend hours tracking every cent you spend, obsessing over spreadsheets and doing all that un-fun stuff, just trying to make sense of the overall picture. The truth is, there are only 7 steps involved to manage your money better — and, thankfully, they’re hassle and headache-free.

This is a short-cut guide to a personal finance system that organises your money and traps more surplus for you, no matter your income or skillset. We call it being “Money SMARTS”. Right now, it’s helping to build up bank balances of thousands of households across the country, and we know it can help you too — whether it’s about paying off your mortgage sooner; saving for a home deposit or helping you invest for your future.

Being ‘Money SMARTS’

To be a successful money manager, you need a good system. Our ‘Money SMARTS’ system is a combination of our Grandparent’s old ‘flour jar’ approach — that being their humble, yet ingeniously successful habit of sorting money into several jars, like mortgages, bills, groceries, savings etc — mixed with the current digital and ‘cashless’ world. Today, you must organise your money into separate ‘virtual jars’ that sit inside your banking set-up. Why? Unlike yesteryear, where your money couldn’t grow in value just from sitting on a shelf, you now have access to a bank, which can save or make you money if you know what you’re doing.

This means that every dollar of yours, when allocated into a ‘jar’, has a specific job to do for you.

If you’ve tried budgeting before and failed, don’t worry. Under this personal system, you’ll focus on your “7-Day Float” (what you’ll have to spend on a weekly basis) and your remaining money will be set aside in one of the other virtual jars to pay bills, mortgage repayments, the credit card and any future provisioning spending. It’s that easy!

The 7 Simple Steps

Step 1: Gather

Work out ALL of your money in (income you receive) and ALL of the money out (your expenses) for the year. 

Step 2: Sort

Allocate the right amounts into each expense item, thinking about the “stuff you need” regular spending and “stuff you want” ad-hoc spending — and sort these into their correct “jar” just like your Grandparents did! 

 The money SMARTS “Virtual Jars”:

  • Living and Lifestyle Jar – your 7 day weekly float
  • Credit Card Jar – paid off in full monthly
  • Direct Payment Jar – direct debit bills
  • Loans Jar – monthly loan repayments
  • Provisions Jar – pays for ad hoc future spends, like holidays

Step 3: Calculate

As a once off, record every expense item and frequency of each payment that you have in each jar. Total these costs together to work out how much each jar will cost per month. Next, add the cost of every jar together and subtract your income (after-tax) to work out how much is left over. This amount is your “surplus cash”, and this is what will make your money earn you more money. 

Step 4: Banking

Set up these three bank accounts and close off any others you have:

  1. The Primary Account (100% offset account against your home loan or a 100% high interest savings account) – All income comes here and stays here, unless something is automatically paid for or transferred to the accounts below.
  2. Living and Lifestyle Account – this is your weekly spending money. But just like in the good old days, once this is gone, it’s gone … until next week’s payday!
  3. Credit Card Account – this MUST be paid off on time, every month.

Step 5: Check Up

Every month, spend 10 minutes to make sure everything’s going smoothly and you are on track. 

Step 6: Tweak

Make any adjustments if necessary. 

Step 7: Rollover

Do your annual “rollover” at the end of the year to reset and go again. It will become a regular habit in no time at all.

It’s a simple, yet powerful money management system that works in helping you plan, better control your money and trap more surplus. What are you waiting for — give it a go!

About Bryce Holdaway and Ben Kingsley'

Bryce Holdaway and Ben Kingsley are two of Australia’s leading finance experts and educators who have most recently co-authored their second #1 Bestselling book, Make Money Simple Again, a no B.S. how-to-guide on their simple but effective 7-step family budgeting system.  Find out more at

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