Whether you are saving towards retirement or trying to pay down debt, creating and sticking to a budget is the key to success. Since most people are not very excited to hear the word, "budget", the Beacon team likes to refer to this as Income and Expense Management. Here are a few tips on how to get started.
Tip 1: Fill out an Income and Expense Worksheet. We encourage all of our clients and prospects to fill out this worksheet. It's important to identify your annual income, fixed expenses and variable expenses so you are able to clearly identify a surplus or deficit.
Tip 2: Review your Income and Expense Worksheet with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™. Discuss your surplus or deficit. Can you cut back to address a deficit (dine out less, cancel memberships, etc.)? If you have a surplus, do you have an emergency fund established and are you maxing out your retirement?
Tip 3: Set aside cash for certain categories where you usually end up overspending. This is usually referred to as the envelope system. Going to the grocery store with a predetermined amount of cash will help make sure your purchases are very intentional. Using cash makes it very hard to overspend and helps to keep you on track.
Tip 4: Utilize an online budgeting tool. There are plenty of options out there to choose from; Mint, BudgetSimple, etc. At Beacon we use eMoney which is a comprehensive software that allows you to see your full financial picture in one place.
Tip 5: Set clear goals and track your progress. Make sure you are very clear about what your financial goals are. Don't forget to track your spending and celebrate every win!
Please know we are here as a resource and happy to answer any questions you may have.