Not long ago we were brainstorming New Year’s Resolutions. Some people went with perennial favorites – more exercise, eating healthier, more family time and travel (especially as Covid-19 subsides), while some resolved to get their finances in order. What better way to achieve that goal than to start with a budget?
Why even have a budget? A budget is a plan that can actually help prioritize expenses. We know how easy it is to click a few clicks online and buy something we might not necessarily need. With a thoughtfully developed budget you can focus on the things that are most important to you like saving for a home, paying off debt, saving for college, or gifting to charity or family members. Having a budget helps us reach our goals no matter our stage of life or the level of wealth we’ve accumulated. At The Joseph Group we routinely share with our clients that money has a “purpose.” This varies from person to person, but budgeting can help money fulfill its overall purpose.
How can a budget be made simple? This might be the perfect time to think about your budget again as we are nearly three months into the year. Look back and review the first quarter of the year. If you don’t think you are on track, make adjustments. It may be a good time to consider automating your budgeting process. An automatic bill pay feature helps make recurring expenses easy to track when evaluating your total monthly expenses. In addition, consider having additional money automatically transferred to a savings or brokerage account each month. This can build your emergency fund or be earmarked for extra future discretionary expenses. For those of us still working, implementing automatic retirement plan contributions to a 401(k) or IRA is a simple way to “pay yourself first.” In this way you can assure you are saving for your “purpose.”
How do I construct a budget? It is now easier than ever to utilize technology to make this happen. There are literally dozens of budget templates in Microsoft Excel. Quicken workbooks is another tool that can keep track of a budget, or one of the several apps such as Mint can be utilized. Many banks even have their own budgeting tools as you login to your account. And yes, even the back of a napkin is always an option as long as you stick with it. The key is to find the best method that works for you! Having a tool to review your spending will help you stay on track. After all, who wouldn’t want to keep their New Year’s Resolution? It is still only March!
We love helping our clients achieve their own goals so they can live a great life. If there are further questions on how we can best help in your individual wealth planning or budgeting needs, please reach out.
Written by Jeff Tudor, Client Advisor