Money, money, money, moneeyy! (Is For The Love of Money playing in your head yet?) It’s fun to spend. It’s hard to save. It can be awkward to discuss, but in truth, it makes the world go round. So, let’s get down to it.
Summer’s coming to a close, and we’ve probably all indulged a little here and there – vacation, new sundress, brightly colored pillows for the patio. Now the time has come to tighten the belt… and I’m not talkin’ about the patent leather one fastened at your waist right now.
This week, we are making a budget; and thank goodness we live in The Age of Technology where software has replaced the abacus. Have you heard of Mint.com? It is pretty much genius. If you are not familiar with the site, essentially you create a secure profile, input your banking, loan, and investment info; then it analyzes not only how you spend but also where you can save. Based on your purchase patterns and outstanding payment plans, the program illustrates where your money goes and how you can trim the fat in certain areas to funnel cash into your savings.
When it comes to budgets, the challenge for some is inconsistency. If you live off of a freelance feast or famine income, the inconsistent influx of income can make it more difficult to plan and stay on a budget. Kathryn Hatter, a contributor for TheNest.com, has great advice on this one. “Make a list of your fixed expenses for the month,” she says. “These are the bills you pay that don’t change — your mortgage or rent, car payment, loan payments, savings and some utilities” and “record income as you earn it to begin to track any regularity. Once you start tracking, you might even notice a pattern to your income over a period of time.” If you focus on using your available resources towards what you know you have to pay, it allows you to feel more in control and avoid hyperextension of your cash. You don’t have to be monastic; it’s just about being smart and exercising your self-control against frivolities.
As you sit down to devise your spending plan, Siobhan Adcock at The Nest brings up another strategic point, “Your budget should have a tangible goal in mind” and, “You should always be saving…if you use your credit card in an emergency, you’re just going deeper into debt.” Take stock of what you have and what you really need, and I think you’ll find there’s room to shift one area of spending elsewhere. Whatever your goal may be – paying off student loans, saving for a down payment of some kind, setting up a college fund for your future offspring – let that be your happy motivation as you sidestep debt and save those hard-earned pennies.
Ready to get started? I found this article and this one very helpful for creating a budget. I also highly recommend using Mint.com’s app in order to stay on track on the go. It’s free, so get it here. Lay out a budget for the week, the month, the quarter – whatever visually and mentally works for you. Create a budget so that you always know you are living within your means and be sure to save part of what is left, so that you create a cushion for the incidentals that occur seemingly out of the blue: dry cleaning, parking tickets, prescriptions, pet grooming, sale in the Saks shoe department…
Bottom line: Knowing the income you have coming in and going out every month removes the stress and worry that can be caused by our personal finances, so take control and get started, ladies!
Cheers to responsible adulthood.