The weather is changing, the trees are blooming and the smell of spring is in the air! If you’re like us, you’re also opening up your windows to air out the house & even getting spring cleaning done around the house.
Spring cleaning doesn’t only apply to your home. It can apply to your finances as well. One of the best ways to start is to revisit your budget.
The best way to start with a solid budget is to create two buckets – must-haves & nice-to-haves. The must haves are your living expenses. We suggest the following items for your living expenses:
- Housing: not only your rent or mortgage, but also your utilities, renter’s or homeowner’s insurance, property taxes, and repair fund
- Transportation: car payment, car insurance, gas, and/or public transit passes
- Healthcare: your premiums along with an allotment for deductible, coinsurance and prescription payments
- Food/Household: groceries, going out to eat, and anything needed to keep your house running (laundry detergent, shampoo, cleaning supplies, dry cleaning); if you’re trying to control your budget, we recommend meal planning and spending the majority of your food dollars on groceries; going out to eat or buying that latte everyday can have a major impact on your budget
- Childcare: if you need to pay for childcare during the week while you work
- Obligations: required payments on debt and/or tax payments
- Communication: cell phone and internet (we’re realists – in today’s world, this has become a living expense; however, there are ways to control these costs as well & we encourage you to be prudent)
The following are nice-to-haves that you should consider tracking:
- Entertainment: this could include gym memberships, going to the movies, paying your bowling league dues, visiting a museum, or taking a vacation
- Personal expenses: if you like to buy clothes or shoes beyond what’s needed to keep you acceptably clothed, if you have a cleaning or lawncare service, or if you get your nails done, get your hair colored, etc…
- Cable/TV: either satellite or cable, plus any subscriptions to streaming services like Netflix or Hulu
- Gifts: for birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and any other special occasion
While the items below are technically considered nice-to-haves, we actually would encourage you to adjust your budget in such a way that it allows you to allocate funds to each of these on a regular basis:
- Emergency fund: try to put a little bit toward your emergency fund each month, with a goal amount of 6 months worth of living expenses
- Debt: pay as much as you can toward your debt; the faster you pay it down, the faster you’ll have that payment amount back in your pocket & save yourself from costly interest
- Retirement: the more you save for retirement now, the less you’ll have to worry later
- Donations: we encourage all of our clients and associates to find a cause that is near and dear to their hearts that they can help with financial donations
- Additional savings: do you want to help pay for your children’s college costs? Take a special trip? Buy additional properties?
There are clearly a lot of items we spend money on. Is your budget working or are you finding yourself constantly moving money around, or adding to your credit card debt? Are you able to accomplish what you want to?
We’d love to sit down & help you set some goals, and then set a budget to help you reach them. Contact us today to get started!