In the last couple of months, Vidal Jones and Philip Weaver have offered encouragement and provided thought provoking questions regarding your financial well-being. Vidal encourages you to set goals; Philip provides a framework. So, how does one begin to “X-ray” your own financial condition? Where do you start? I believe it starts with a budget.
By planning a budget, it requires you to look into your current spending habits, it requires you to look at your disposable income, and it requires you to make a plan. It’s the best financial planning tool you can use as long as you’re honest about your spending habits, follow the budget to the best of your ability, and review it often. Life happens and budgets may need to be altered.
So, how do you create a budget? I could provide a few basic steps to help set you on your way, but who wants to recreate the wheel when good ‘ole Google will provide hundreds, even thousands of sites to assist you for FREE! There’s not a one-size fits all solution, especially since different “X-ray” glasses are needed for different stages of life – college, marriage, retirement – you get the picture. Most of the websites I visited were very good offering basic information, with step-by-step guidelines and printable templates. (Don’t forget Gary Yarbrough’s blog about Cyber Security while searching the internet.)
Use all your resources! Do you have a 401(k) or other retirement plan? Most financial advisors often send budget/calculation forms or links in emails to help guide you in preparing for your retirement. Take a moment and review that flyer or that email before trashing it or hitting the delete button. These tools may help you determine your savings plan for retirement, and you can incorporate that into your monthly budget. Surely there’s an app for budgets too, right? Computer software programs are available too if that’s your go-to resource of choice.
Whatever source/tool you use in establishing a budget really doesn’t matter, the key is setting one up. Use what works for you. If you have made a New Year’s Resolution commitment or set a personal goal to take control of your finances, congratulations! I’m here cheering you on!