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The Best Way To Save Money With Your MoneyPLUS Personal Budget!

PERSONAL BUDGET  - RESOURCES PAGE
Why You Need a Budget

Creating a Budget

Budgetary Advantages

Budgeting Hints

5 Pitfalls to Avoid

Saving for Retirement

Money Saving Tips

Financial Planning

Talking About Money

Future Plans

Welcome!

Most people would agree that it is very important for a Fortune 500 company to have a workable budget in place. Without this financial framework, a firm could easily outspend their revenue stream and quickly amass substantial amounts of debt. There would be no checks or balances in place to prevent overspending from taking place on various levels. In addition, it would be very unlikely that appropriate funds would be available should the company run into unexpected trouble and have a need for immediate capital. However, for whatever reason, many people do not realize that these same principles apply to each of our personal lives.

There has never been a bigger need than there is today for families and individuals to establish personal budgets. In the long run, increased life expectancies have raised the average levels of retirement income that is now needed to survive. This translates into a need for increased retirement savings at a time when many people are living paycheck to paycheck. In the short run there is a greatly increased temptation to become ensnared in a trap of easily accessible credit card debt. The best way handle both of these factors (as well as many others) is through the establishment of an effective personal budget.

This web site is intended to provide information explaining what a budget is, what it is good for, and how it is used. We will share ideas and discuss the reasons a family needs to put together their own personal budgeting plan and give some guidelines on how to go about creating a plan.

Suggestions are given for changing spending habits and practicing more self-control. We offer articles focusing on cash flow, debt, income and expenses, as well as helping you determine your net worth. You will be able to analyze your spending habits and work out an effective money saving plan. Also discussed will be the pros and cons of using credit, the importance of using it wisely and your credit history.

If you find our resources helpful or if you have any additional questions, we would love to hear from you.

 

 

Why You Need a Personal Budget

In today's world there are very few people who take the time to create a personal budget. Some people do not see the value in doing so; other people simply have no desire to restrict their spending habits. With this in mind, it should surprise no one that the number of personal bankruptcies has reached an all time high. People have reached a point in our society where they buy on impulse with no thoughts to the consequences. In order to reverse this trend people need to become more responsible with their patterns of spending. One of the best tools to help an individual accomplish this behavior is the personal budget.

A personal budget is a financial plan which sets limits on the amount of money that will be spent on each category of expenses in a given month. A good budget will take into consideration such factors as: the amount of income being received, outstanding debt to be retired, retirement savings, and an emergency fund.

Many people have no idea exactly where or how they spend a good portion of their money. How many times have you taken money from the ATM only to realize a couple of days later that it is gone? Many times it is difficult to remember how exactly you spent the money, and often times this money is wasted on frivolous purchases. A budget will help prevent this from happening by making a person accountable for the money that they spend. If a person only has $50 left for monthly food expenses then they may decide to forgo purchasing that fancy $3 designer cup of coffee.

Another great benefit is that a budget portrays an accurate idea of how much an individual can actually afford to pay for various consumer items. Whether it's a house, a car, or a new TV, a person will be able to determine whether or not a certain purchase will fit within their monetary constraints. This acts as a safeguard against getting in over your head financially.

It is important to realize that simply creating a budget is not enough. This in and of itself will do a person absolutely no good if he does not discipline himself to stick to it. At times this will very difficult, particularly if a person has established the habit of freely spending without a second thought. However, the long term benefits of financial freedom, debt free living, and a comfortable retirement far outweigh any potential difficulty.

 

 

Creating a Budget

Many people are not fully convinced that they have a need for a budget. Their reasoning goes something like this. "All I need to do is spend less than I make, and that's just common sense, so why in the world do I need a budget?" If this sounds like something you have said in the past, you probably have a bigger need than you think. Other people fully realize their need, but they simply have no idea where to start. With this in mind let's walk through the basic steps of creating a personal budget.

Budgetary Steps

  • Create a list of all of your monthly income. If you have any sources of income that are received annually then simply divide this number by 12. It is important to list all sources including alimony, child support, side jobs, etc. This figure will set the cap on your total budget.
     

  • Create a list of all your monthly expenses. If an expense occurs less frequently, simply prorate it to fit a monthly format. Be sure to include such expenses as; housing, food, transportation, utilities, entertainment, etc. It is wise to track your spending for a full month during this stage of budgetary planning. Save your receipts and each evening write down your expenses for the day. This is the best way to gain an accurate reflection of actual expenses.
     

  • Determine if your income covers all of your current expenses. If the answer is no, then expenses need to be reduced.
     

  • Adjust expenses. This can be done in a variety of ways. Depending on the amount of the shortfall, it may be a simple matter of reducing some discretionary spending, such as entertainment, or food. (i.e. the number of times you eat out in a given month) If the deficit is larger then it may be a matter of downsizing your vehicle or your living arrangements. If your income covers all of your expenses then this is still a good opportunity to trim some of the fat off of your spending habits. This can help free up extra money for a variety of reasons ranging from, college educations for the kids, to a nice anniversary trip with your wife.
     

  • Add new categories if necessary. Three areas that are often overlooked are 1) debt reduction 2) retirement savings and 3) emergency savings. An emergency fund will ensure that there is an adequate amount available to cover an unforeseen even (i.e. the car breaks down) should it arise. This will prevent the use of credit which can quickly break a personal budget.

 

 

The Advantages of Living on a Budget

The majority of people today are not living on a personal budget. The availability of credit has allowed people to purchase what they want when they want with little regard to whether or not they can actually afford it. There is little hope that people will change these patterns of behavior in favor of living on a budget until they realize the number of corresponding advantages.

A major advantage of living on a budget is that it relieves a great deal of financially related stress. It's always fun to spend money at the time of purchase but it is not nearly as fun when the bill comes do. When this happens, some people resort to using credit cards to pay of other cards. Other times people pay their bills and then choose to obtain "payday advance loans" to get them through until the next check. Both of these situations cause a viscous cycle of debt and growing interest. A budget can help ensure that an accumulation of debt is prevented and money will be available throughout the entire month.

Another advantage associated with budgeting is that it allows an individual to regularly place money into savings plans. This will allow the person to enjoy a comfortable retirement when that stage of life rolls around. It will also provide a financial cushion to cover any emergency situations that may arise.

Other Budgetary Advantages

  • Goal achievements. Most people have set financial goals that they would like to reach at some point in the future. Sometimes this may be an exotic anniversary trip, or it may be a brand new car or a college education. A budget can help people save money to make these goals a reality.
     

  • Debt reduction. Many people are being crushed under a heavy load of consumer debt. Without a disciplined pattern of spending it is virtually impossible to make much headway in reducing the debt. A personal budget can provide the framework necessary to begin eliminating these inflated account balances.

One of the great aspects of a personal budget is that it does not offer an "either or solution". If executed properly a budget will allow a person to simultaneously meet their expenses, place money into savings, and pay back outstanding debt. In view of these advantages, it is truly in all of our best interests to create and implement a personal budget.
 

 

Budgeting Hints

The majority of people today are not living on a personal budget. The availability of credit has allowed people to purchase what they want when they want with little regard to whether or not they can actually afford it. There is little hope that people will change these patterns of behavior in favor of living on a budget until they realize the number of corresponding advantages.

A major advantage of living on a budget is that it relieves a great deal of financially related stress. It's always fun to spend money at the time of purchase but it is not nearly as fun when the bill comes do. When this happens, some people resort to using credit cards to pay of other cards. Other times people pay their bills and then choose to obtain "payday advance loans" to get them through until the next check. Both of these situations cause a viscous cycle of debt and growing interest. A budget can help ensure that an accumulation of debt is prevented and money will be available throughout the entire month.

Another advantage associated with budgeting is that it allows an individual to regularly place money into savings plans. This will allow the person to enjoy a comfortable retirement when that stage of life rolls around. It will also provide a financial cushion to cover any emergency situations that may arise.

Other Budgetary Advantages

  • Goal achievements. Most people have set financial goals that they would like to reach at some point in the future. Sometimes this may be an exotic anniversary trip, or it may be a brand new car or a college education. A budget can help people save money to make these goals a reality.
     

  • Debt reduction. Many people are being crushed under a heavy load of consumer debt. Without a disciplined pattern of spending it is virtually impossible to make much headway in reducing the debt. A personal budget can provide the framework necessary to begin eliminating these inflated account balances.

One of the great aspects of a personal budget is that it does not offer an "either or solution". If executed properly a budget will allow a person to simultaneously meet their expenses, place money into savings, and pay back outstanding debt. In view of these advantages, it is truly in all of our best interests to create and implement a personal budget.
 

 

5 Pitfalls That Could Destroy Your Budget

With all of the advantages that are associated with living on a personal budget it is no wonder that many people are beginning to implement this system into their own lives. For a great number of individuals the results over time have been nothing short of amazing. People are beginning to work their way out of debt while at the same time meeting their expenses, and placing money into savings. However, it is important to realize that there are potential pitfalls that may be encountered along the way. If people are aware of these hazards then they are far less likely to be negatively affected by them.

  1. Credit Cards. These little pieces of plastic can often cause a great deal of temptation and trouble. It is not uncommon for a person to make an unwise purchase, which they would not otherwise make, because they had a credit card handy. The solution to this problem for many people is to get rid of their credit cards and begin paying by cash or check. Some prefer to keep one card for emergency situations but it is best to keep this out of reach, and not in their wallet or purse.
     
  2. Impatience. Problems often arise when people set financial goals but do not have the patience to complete a savings program. For example, let. s say that an individual begins setting money aside for a new car. However, after a couple of months they happen to find a car that they love, and instead of waiting, they go ahead and make the purchase. This could potentially create some serious financially strains. It takes real discipline to prevent impatience from breaking your budget.
     
  3. Lack of adjustments. A budget is created using a set of expenses and income figures that are current at that time. As these figures change it is important that the budget is adjusted to reflect these changes. A failure to do so could lead to some major deficits.
     
  4. Holidays. Unfortunately, many people do not consider holidays at the point that they are creating their budgets. As a result, a proper amount of money has not been set aside for presents, food, etc. These items should be factored in and saved for throughout the entire year.

Vacations. Many people accurately factor in the transportation and accommodations, but underestimate the amount of money needed for food and entertainment. Keep in mind that at any kind of "touristy" or resort destination, the prices can easily be 2 to 3 times what you would normally pay at home.
 

 

Budgeting For Retirement

The process of preparing for retirement presents a bit of a paradox. The longer interest is allowed to accumulate on a sum of money the larger the sum will grow (particularly if additional amounts are added) Consequently, saving for retirement is the most effective when started early in life, but this is the time when people are generally the least interested in doing so. Saving for retirement is the least effective when started later in life, but this is the time when people have the greatest amount of motivation to do so. One of the goals of our web sit is to educate people with the hope of reversing this trend.

Once a person is convinced that it is to his advantage to begin investing for the future then the next step is to revise their personal budget to include a retirement fund category. Let's take a look at how a person might go about incorporating this in with their monthly expenses.

Steps Toward Establishing a Retirement Budget

  • Determine when you wish to retire. This will help an individual know how long he has to save, and in turn, roughly how much he will need to put aside each month.
     
  • Calculate retirement expenses. It is impossible to project completely accurate totals; however, a close ballpark figure should be attainable. This is done through a careful examining of all current expenses to determine if they will still be applicable, as well as, adding on any additional costs. For example, many retirees experience an increase in "entertainment expenses". Since they have an increased amount of free time, they spend more money on hobbies, travel, eating out, etc.
     
  • Adjust for inflation. It is important to realize that the total amount of expenses that you attained in step # 2 was calculated using today's costs. 10, 20, or 30 years from now this cost will be higher in accordance with inflation. Failing to adjust for this factor could lead to a severe shortage of funds.
     
  • Do the math. Once you know how much you need and when you need it you can calculate how much you will need to save between now and then. There are many good (and free) internet based retirement calculators that help you determine how much money needs to be saved each month in order to meet your goals.

Don't be overly optimistic. When calculating how much you will need to save each month, resist the urge to assume that you will average a 18% (or any other number on the high side) annual return. This may happen occasional, but chances are very strong that you will not average this return over the course of the investment. Choose a more conservative percentage because it truly is better to be safe than sorry. If it turns out you make 18% then great, you'll have extra money in your account.

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Practical Money Saving Tips

Initially many people may find it challenging to live on a budget, especially those who are not used to tracking their daily expenditures. When these figures are recorded and added together they often form a total that exceeds the amount of income that they are receiving. When faced with this situation an individual must cut back on their spending. However, this is often easier said than done. With this in mind, we have compiled a list of practical money saving tips that should help you to get back on budget as quickly as possible.

  • Alter credit card behavior. Pay cash whenever possible. This will help you from making a purchase unless you actually have money available. If you decide to make a credit card purchase, be prepared to pay the balance off monthly. This will save a lot of money through avoiding interest charges. If you already have a CC balance then transfer to a card with a low interest rate. Additionally, find a card that does not charge an annual fee.
  • Brown bag it. Believe it or not, all of those lunch hours spent at the local restaurants begin to add up. Bringing your own lunch can save you several dollars each day.
  • Call during off peak hours. It is not uncommon for "phone talkers" to spend a couple hundred dollars a month on phone charges. Much of this can be avoided by placing the majority of your calls during off peak hours. These hours may vary depending on the service, but many cell phone companies offer unlimited calls during nights and weekends.
  • Clip coupons. Although this may seem like a tedious waste of time to many, the savings can often be well worth the effort. Many stores will offer to double the amount of your coupon up to a certain amount. Using this technique can save you as much as $20 to $30 (this number will vary depending on the amount purchased) each time you shop.
  • Refinance. Mortgage rates have been extremely low over the past year. This has been a great opportunity to reduce the monthly house payment significantly. (If you are planning to have your house paid off prior to retirement, then you may want to factor this in before refinancing.)
  • Bundle your insurance. Many insurance companies will offer their customer lower rates if they purchase multiple insurance policies. For example, some people use the same agent for multiple cars, and others combine their cars and house.

A key point to remember is that a dollar here and a dollar there really begins to add up. Avoid the temptation to resist changing a pattern of spending because "it wouldn't save that much money." For example, if all those small savings add up to $100 a month (or in some cases much more), then that equates to $1200 annually, which is a significant amount of savings.

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