Every single day, millions – if not billions – of people are doing things they know are detrimental to them and not doing the things they know should be doing.
It sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. Whether it is improving your health by taking a little time to eat well and exercise, reading a good book for 30 minutes instead of watching TV, or setting up a budget to help you reach your goals. It’s the little things that will make the difference over time.
We have all heard the saying the best time to plant a tree was 5 years ago; the second best time is now. Yet the hardest part to actually doing something is just starting it. Many people put the “pro” in procrastinate, spending more time making up brilliant excuses and fooling themselves than anything else. Yet if you could just use that energy to start, you will soon realize it’s easy to keep it going. It’s all about that first step to get the ball rolling. And once it’s rolling, that’s when the magic happens.
Understand that personal finance management is a powerful step in planning for you and your family’ future. Managing personal finances well means striving towards your goals and living in the moment stress-free and with confidence. Whether you want to get a new dog, a vacation home, or start an educational saving account for your children, it’s important to understand what the costs are and how you plan to cover them. We all know we should create a budget, yet why haven’t many of us done it yet? Lucky for you, creating a budget is easy and the results will pay off tenfold for the little time it takes to get this going. Here’s how to start:
• Track your income and spending habits for a month. This is an unbelievably great way to open your eyes to why you need a budget. Whether you make $30,000 a year or make $500,000 I can guarantee you, that once you track where all your money is going you will be blown away by how much money is carelessly wasted. If you had a budget in place, this wasted money could easily be reallocated to things that are much more meaningful to you, like turning your dreams into reality. Remember that needs are different than wants, but once you have your needs under control, you can indulge on specific things you want without feeling guilty.
• Once you know where your money is going and coming from, you can then start setting some realistic saving goals. This is the fun part because you can ask yourself what you really want in life and come up with a clear concise way of getting there. Short, medium and long term goals within specific time frames are a good place to start. Write these goals down and look at them for 30 seconds every day to reinforce why you are being disciplined and sticking to your budget.
• Now it’s time to design your budget. There are many great tools online that can help you get started. Mint is a safe and easy to use interactive budgeting tool that can really change the way you look at your personal finances and spending habits. Remember when making your budget to plan for emergency expenses, or things that may pop up unexpectedly. Allocate a portion of your income and savings to things you can’t imagine happening, that way when they do you are ready, and when they don’t, you’re much better off.
• You have created a budget and now it’s time to implement it. Try it out for a month. See where you can tweak it and make it better. Once you have something you are happy with that will align with your goals and lifestyle choice, it becomes really easy to stick with.
• Now you are spending wisely, saving where you need to and crossing goals off your list. Things are going well. Remember to revisit your budget and goals often; situations change and your finances will too, usually for the better when you’re are disciplined and sticking to the plan!
How much do you care about your finances? Are you interested in achieving your goals? Do you want to be better for yourself and your family? Creating a budget is an easy and great way to begin. Remember, this is something that can be fun. Don’t look at it like you are depriving yourself from the exciting and pleasurable things in life. Your budget is there so you can indulge in the things you WANT while being 100% confident that all your NEEDS are covered. So go ahead and get started already, your future self will thank you.
MacDougall Investment Counsel Inc.