Why is budgeting so difficult? It’s difficult because most people aren’t taught how to do it correctly and staying disciplined is hard without a good system. Learn how to control your spending and work towards maintaining a similar lifestyle but without spending as much as you do now. The goal of this post is to help you develop a thoughtful approach to spending.
A budget impacts your financial wellness. If you cannot control what you spend, you will not find the financial independence and freedom you are seeking. Although there are different types of expenses that affect your short and long term financial goals, it’s critical to track everything. The three types of lifestyles are beyond, within, or beneath your financial means.
- Living beyond your means is when you consistently spend more than you have each month. Using credit to purchase something you needs is sometimes necessary. Buying things that you want but might not need is usually where most people run into issues
- Living within your means is when your expenses and income align. This can work for short periods of time but living within your means generally doesn’t allow for savings or investing. Living within your means leads to working for every dollar you make and not allowing your money to work for you.
- Living beneath your means is where your income sufficiently exceeds your spending on a regular basis and allows for investing and saving. When you consistently live beneath your means, it leaves room for you to participate in spur-of-the moment events or purchases without financial harm
Once you establish where you are on the spectrum of spending, start developing methods to help you track and control your spending. When I was a kid, we had an envelope system. Each spending category got a certain amount of cash and when the cash was gone, so was the ability to spend. If you would like to use this traditional method, spend the next month tracking how much you bring in after taxes and how you spend your money. Make sure to separate your fixed expenses such as rent, auto payments, and insurance. Once those are paid each month, that leaves your “spending money”. Track how much you spent over the month, see if it was beyond, at, or below your means. Separate the expenses into categories like groceries, clothing, going-out, alcohol, etc. I personally use the CreditKarma.com app to track my spending and it provides helpful categories. Ensure you have notifications for your app enabled so you are warned when you are close to or over your limit for each category. If you’ve never tracked your spending by category before you will probably be surprised by how much you spend on going out, I always am! Reflect on how you can trim each category and stick to your budget. If you prefer the envelope/ cash method, cash your paycheck each week, deposit what you need for your fixed expenses, and fill each of your expense envelopes. I would suggest that you do this on a weekly or bi-weekly basis until you get a handle on things. If you want to use the electronic method, set up the app you work best with and track your expenses that way.
Let your money work for you! Having stress related to a runaway budget is often unnecessary and is one of the main reasons for divorce and relationship issues. The happiness you can find from getting things under control will outweigh the short-term pleasure from a dinner purchased on credit card that you couldn’t afford: It’s not fun paying for a dinner you had a year ago PLUS interest. I will share more tips and suggestions on budgeting in the coming months. Follow this blog for more tips on budgeting.
I would love to hear from you! Reach out if you have questions or want to discuss your personal financial needs; I love what I do and want to help anyway I can. Remember, Buffalo, everyone deserves a thoughtful plan.
Here's some fun stuff I am hoping to check out next week.
FALL WINE FESTIVAL @ THE BROADWAY MARKET
DATE: Friday Nov. 17, 2017 - Saturday Nov. 18, 2017
TIME: 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
LOCATION: Broadway Market
999 Broadway , Buffalo, NY, 14212, East Buffalo
Fall Wine Festival featuring wines from the Lake Erie Wine Country and the Niagara Escarpment. Free and open to the public. Music both days: 11/17/17 Jazzbirds, 11:00 am – 2:00 pm; November 18, 2017 Carol McLaughlin Quartet, noon – 3:00 pm.
Specialty food vendors and all of your Broadway Market favorites, too. Parking available in the market’s attached parking garage. Broadway Market, 999 Broadway, Buffalo, New York 14212, 716-893-0705, www.broadwaymarket.org.
GREATER BUFFALO TOY AND TRAIN SHOW
DATE: Saturday Nov. 18, 2017 - Sunday Nov. 19, 2017
TIME: 10:00 am
LOCATION: Hamburg Fairgrounds
5820 South Park Avenue, Hamburg, NY, 14075, South Towns
Greater Buffalo Toy and Train Show
Nov 18th 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Nov 19th 10:00 am – 4:00 pm