Lol. That was my first reaction when I saw the Daily Mail telling its readers to follow budgeting advice I posted on the Cheaper Living (NZ Only!) Facebook page.

Second reaction - my penmanship hasn't improved since I was about 8. It's lucky I type my words for a living.

Maybe I should've used the neatly-written budgeting plan Mum originally wrote for me when I whinged to her that I was sick of flatting and wanted my own place.

Because she's actually the one who came up with this so called "VERY simple budgeting plan", even though I'm the one now getting all the Daily Mail glory, if you can call it that.


First advice - listen to your mother.

Goodness knows how Mum learned - maybe from her own mum. Or maybe because it's just good common sense and I'm sure a lot of people already do the same, or similar, with their money.

All I know is that back then I needed all the help I could get with managing my money.

Buying a house in Auckland on your own and on a journalist's wage means making a plan.

Cherie Howie's simple budget plan to help people save for their first home.
Cherie Howie's simple budget plan to help people save for their first home.

Once you start, and the money starts building up, you get really good and obsessed at finding savings everywhere - and I'm sure the Daily Mail's comments section (and our own) will take great delight in telling me about all the stuff I'm still doing wrong.

But, damn does it feel good to be in control.

And I still reckon I have some things really right.

One, pocket money.

In my family, we didn't get it as kids and I get a kick out of calling the guilt-free money I give myself each week pocket money.

Also, I love the name for the irregular bills account.

Mum casually called it the "slush" fund and I immediately thought of the famous Richard Nixon/Watergate slush fund in my favourite book/movie about journalism, All the President's Men.

So, yeah, find what you love and incorporate it into your money managing plan.

As you can probably tell, I'm not really a money-managing expert.

I've made as many bad decisions as good and I'm fortunate to do so with a bit of room in the budget.

If you really want to be inspired join the Cheaper Living page to see how people are really doing it, often enough on a shoestring budget.

And they didn't even have to ask their mums for help!

The Daily Mail article

Saving for a home is top of the list for many young professionals seeking to get on the property ladder.

But often life gets in the way, and even the most careful of budgeting plans can fall by the wayside.

No longer. New Zealander, Cherie Howie, recently shared the budgeting plan that helped her to buy an apartment in Auckland in 2015 - and it's surprisingly simple.

"I know lots do this stuff already, but I wanted to share a plan that I wrote for a friend a couple of months ago," Cherie posted on the Facebook group, Cheaper Living (NZ Only).

"She wanted to save money. This is exactly how I saved to buy a home by myself in Auckland," she continued.

My mum taught me this way of organising my money, and after three years I was able to buy my unit in 2015."

Cherie recommended "adapting [the plan] to suit your own needs.

"For example, I left car expenses off as my friend doesn't own a car.

"And yes, I know 'life can drop a grenade on the best-laid plans'... but I still think a plan doesn't do any harm, and might make the recovery a bit less painful."

So how does Cherie's simple notebook budget work?

For the New Zealand-based homeowner, it's all about thinking about the "monthly budget".

On a piece of paper, she recommends setting up "three accounts": one for "working or regular bills", a "slush fund" for "irregular bills" and a "savings" account.

She then divided up all of her monthly outgoings into the accounts they should be coming from.

For example, rent, insurance, power, water, internet and phone bills, subscriptions, public transport, bank fees and $60 of pocket money a week all come out of the "working account".

Meanwhile, the doctor and dentist, haircuts, beauty, clothes, shoes, domestic flights, gifts and more all come out of the so-called 'slush account':

"You dip into this as bills come in. Don't be tempted to use it for other bills," she said.

"Slush is hard to budget for exactly, but some planning takes the edge off."

Finally, the rest should go into "savings" and can be used for your property or "for you to do whatever you want re: travel".

Since the New Zealand woman posted her trick on a Kiwi-based Facebook group, people have been quick to comment on and like the post - praising it for its simplicity.

The three accounts Cherie Howie recommends you have:

1. A Working Account - for regular bills, like rent and transport.

2. A Slush Fund - for irregular bills, like the doctor and hairdresser.

3. A Savings Account - for the rest of your money.