When working with my clients, the first thing I have them do is forget about money and DREAM BIG! I know it sounds weird but stay with me for a moment. Next, we take those dreams and organize them into short/mid/long term goals. Then money and finances comes in. My approach to personal finance is that your money should fund your dreams and goals. And the way we do that is through… BUDGETING.
DO YOU REALLY NEED TO BUDGET?
DON’T BELIEVE ME? IF YOU ANSWER YES TO ANY OF THESE, KEEP READING.
Is your income bucket dry at the end of the month?
Do you use credit cards to fund your lifestyle?
Are you lacking in long term savings for retirement?
Would you like to go on more vacations?
Do you ever fight or stress about money?
At the end of the month do you wonder where all your money went?
Will your kids need to take out loans to go to college?
If you needed a new roof on your rental place (I do!), you would need to pay for it with credit cards or loans
Does your retirement plan include working forever?
IF YOU ANSWER FALSE TO ANY OF THESE, YOU NEED A BUDGET.
You have 3-6 months of your typical household spending saved and earmarked for emergency funds.
You know your monthly household expenditures.
You mapped out your short, mid and long term goals and are actively working towards reaching those goals.
You know how much you need to retire and have a target date when you will likely reach that number.
WHY ARE YOU NOT BUDGETING NOW?
Now that you understand, you should be budgeting, let’s address why you aren’t already doing it.
You make too much money, and have plenty at the end of the month
It sucks the life out of you
You tried it and quit
It takes too much time and its boring
The tools for budgeting stink
It causes fights at home
It’s too much work and nobody wants to take the responsibility for driving the conversation
You are slowly but surely reaching our goals without one
You’ve tried it before and failed. You just can’t stand to have to fail at it again
That’s just a few reasons (or excuses) I’ve heard over the years. I get it. Budgets aren’t exciting. But it’s a key component to reaching your goals. And goals are exciting. For example budgeting could fund a fabulous vacation all paid for upfront.
From my experience, 99.9% of people would benefit from a budget. Even those of you with plenty of cash at the end of the month!! Hello, retiring*** at 54 instead of 56! Hello buying the turbo instead of just the V6!! Hello, philanthropy.
Here’s a 50 sec video where I explain how your money should flow each month.
The biggest monthly expense for most is housing: a mortgage or rent payment. Followed up by a standard set of non-discretionary items: gas, electric, cell phone, internet, insurance, car, student loans, etc.
Then you have discretionary buckets: groceries, gas, eating out, beers/cocktails and clothing. This is where a budget is key in getting a handle on your discretionary expenses. Watch out, little expenses add up fast…ahem, eating out.
After you deal with your general monthly expenditures, you are left with the excess to allocate to your savings for goals like: buying a house, buying a new car, going on a vacation, saving for kids to go to school and retiring. Typically, the savings buckets are filled with little drips from spigots, if there is any excess at all. Sometimes, your top bucket is empty at the end of the month, and you end up needing a credit card to fill some of your expense buckets.
Share this information with your partner. You must have full cooperation to make this work. But you also need to decide who is “in charge” of the process.
If you are having trouble getting on the same page, check out my article on talking to your partner about finances.
Together come up with your shared goals. Having clear priorities about what you are saving for is super important.
Get access to all of your user name and password information to your banks, you will need these next week.
Be aware of your spending this week. Are there areas that you already know are trouble spots?