April 25, 2023
by Heidi Ellingson, Executive Assistant | Marketing Coordinator
Where Did All My Money Go?
I think we’ve all asked that of ourselves. If you’re like most people, you think of making a budget as a way to force us to control our spending (and ourselves). In all reality, it can help you see the light at the end of the tunnel and bring you peace of mind. It could also help get you out of debt… or keep you from getting there in the first place! You can then proactively save for retirement, put the kids through college or take a long-needed vacation.
If you want to do any of these things, you need to know where your money is currently going. We know all the regular things like mortgage or rent, insurance, car payment…but for some, the small stuff really adds up… like do you really need a 3rd pair of black shoes or the 20th tie? Can you really afford to get coffee or lunch out every day? Then, there is the less obvious things, like do you honestly watch all 500 channels on your costly cable plan. It all adds up.
Some people fear budgeting because it kind of puts reality right up in your face. It’s like a flashlight aimed at a dark corner – you’re afraid of what you might see. But there are positive ways budgeting can help… I know it helps me sleep better at night.
- The most fundamental guideline of budgeting is Don’t spend Money You Don’t Have – This could lead to credit card debt piling up, overdrawing your bank account, unnecessary bank charges and interest.
- Be prepared for emergencies – Your budget should include an emergency fund that consists of 3 to 6 months worth of living expenses, depending on your marital and job status. Some experts think that, with inflation, you might want to save up a year’s worth. But you don’t need to build it all at once – just set aside an amount each month. This fund will ensure that you don’t spiral into debt if something unforeseen happens like your car dies and you need to get it repaired, or a family member dies and you must take a flight for a funeral or, perish the thought, you lose your job. There is a comfort in knowing that you can easily handle these emergency situations.
- Better funded retirement – If you build investment contributions into your budget and follow through on them, you’ll build a nice nest egg. If you set it up with your employer to deduct it from your paycheck and sock it away in the company retirement plan, you probably won’t even miss it after a few paychecks.
- Keep Your Eye on the Goal – like saving for a trip or a down payment on a car. Be specific, set a timeline and be accountable.
- Shed a Light on Bad Spending Habits – When you see on paper where your money goes and how much it totals to at the end of the quarter, or the end of the year, you realize that you’re spending money on things you don’t “need.”
Most important of all, don’t lose hope or be too rough on yourself. Our society is driven by “instant gratification. New habits take time to develop so it won’t happen overnight. If you’d like a template for creating a budget for yourself and your family, contact our office and we’ll help you get started.
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