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How to Keep Your Personal Budget Under Control

How to Keep Your Personal Budget Under Control

Waking up one day and realizing that you don’t have that much money left to use this month is surely nothing nice. I’ve had it happen a couple of times and it wasn’t pretty. It’s not that I don’t have any common sense; the core of the problem sits somewhere else—bad money management.

personal budget

    So how was I able to fix it, and how you can do the same? There are some steps that need to be taken, but before I can tell you what I mean let me explain what this post isn’t about: it’s not about how to make more money, it’s not about saying no to the nice things in life, and it’s not about starving. It is, however, about being aware of where most of your money goes, and about being conscious of your spending habits.

    Monitoring is the first step

    I’m sure you’re familiar with the saying that what gets measured gets improved. This is a rule that’s valid for your personal budget as well. If you want to keep things under control, you need to start by paying close attention to what you’re spending money on. Now, this isn’t the moment where you should restrain yourself from buying something you’d normally buy. It’s just about writing down your expenses and keeping them for later analysis. Keeping note of very expense sounds like a lot of work, but the 21st century comes to rescue.

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    If you have an iPhone or an iPad (or an Android device) then you can use one of many personal financing apps that are available out there (image below).

    iPad-apps

      There are both free and paid solutions, such as:

      I didn’t have the chance to test them all out, so choosing the exact app you’re going to use is up to you. You can start by going to the App Store and searching for either “budget” or “personal finance”, but make sure that your app allows you to:

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      • categorize your expenses
      • add expenses on specific dates
      • add your salary and any income you have
      • input all costs using your local currency
      • change the currency (optional, if you’re spending money in more than one currency)

      One month head start

      Unfortunately, you won’t be able to do everything overnight: you need to spend some time getting data and building your spending profile, so to speak. Usually one month is enough to gather a sufficient amount of data, but if your spending habits are a bit more unpredictable then you might need more time. During this initial month, make sure to set a habit of noting down every expense you make by putting it into your chosen app. Remember to use the right categories, as this will be the only way you’re going to able to analyze this data later on.

      Let me say this again: categorization is key to success here.

      For instance, you can divide your expenses into these categories: rent, food, going out, coffee, alcohol, bills, gas, entertainment, education, etc. This is also a good opportunity to input your salary and any other profits you’re making (e.g.: freelancing, securities, bonds, stocks).

      Review

      When the month is over, it’s time to review your expenses and take notice of all possible areas for improvement. As I said before, the key here is to look at categories of your expenses: some of these categories are completely mandatory, like rent, or your electricity bill, so you can’t do anything about them. Others are not mandatory, but they are part of your “joy of life,” so to speak, so you wouldn’t necessarily want to get rid of them. The rest, however, may prod you into making some conscious decisions and taking a different direction with your money.

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      Start by looking at each category and deciding if you’re comfortable with the amount of money it costs you. If you’re not, then try to find cheaper alternatives or erase some expenses completely. For instance, one of the most interesting revelations for me was that I was spending an incredible amount of money on coffee. The first step I took was the decision to drink more coffee at home as opposed to going out—this one step cut my coffee expenses in half.

      This is just an example, but I’m sure you can see the potential that lies in this method. The more you categorize your expenses, the more areas of improvement you’ll be able to find. Again, this isn’t about lowering the quality of your life—it’s only about erasing stupid expenses and finding new and improved ways to experience as much joy in life and spending less money at the same time. Of course, if the amount of money you spend is more than the amount you earn, then you’re in a lot of trouble. Once you input your salary, every personal finance app will let you know about such a situation.

      When you have all your categories sorted, you can move to the next phase.

      Planning

      The final step is to plan your spending for the next month. Now, this isn’t about writing down what you can and cannot buy, but more about placing some simple guidelines in the back of your head. Things like: drink coffee at home, don’t buy more than three beers at a time, don’t use credit cards to buy cheap items, buy less clothing, and so on.

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      If you manage to pay attention to such guidelines for the duration of the next month, you’ll surely be able to lower some of your expenses with no loss in your quality of life. Actually, being aware of our personal budgets is not that difficult once we realize one thing: the devil is in the details, and when it comes to personal finance, details = small expenses.

      Subconsciously, we all know this. If we’re planning to buy something big—and I mean massively big like some Fort Worth real estate or a new car—then it doesn’t actually affect our monthly budgets. I mean, we always have everything carefully planned out, and know how much we can afford to spend exactly, and how much the investment is going to cost us over the years. However, buying something small here and there doesn’t seem like it can hurt us, but when we add everything at the end of the month, we can see that all those small things have turned into one surprisingly big bill.

      Personal finance apps help us to notice this and then take the right action… as long as we remember to put every expense into the app. I strongly encourage you to give it a shot and check how much money you can save. For me, the change has been significant, to say the least.

      What’s your take on this? Have you faced any surprising problems when dealing with your daily expenses?

       

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      Published on June 12, 2018

      How Much Money Do I Need to Retire? Find Your Answer Here

      How Much Money Do I Need to Retire? Find Your Answer Here

      It is never too early nor is it ever too late to start planning for retirement. It ultimately depends on your way of life, where are you living, and whether you need to let go of anything. A successful retirement strategy is to have enough pay to cover your expenses with a little cash going into a savings account for sudden financial needs.

      With regards to retirement, we all have an alternate vision in mind. In fact, some think about traveling throughout the world, while some think of a peaceful life with their grandchildren. Whether we get ready for it or not, we will one day turn to retirement age and so, we should be prepared for it. I’m going to tell you how in this article.

      Benefits of early ventures for retirement

      The way this works is you figure out where you need to live, the amount it will cost you to live there (rent/food/transportation), and the various expenses you will need to account for, like travel/insurance/medical bills and taxes. Many people are struggling to put aside money for their future savings and some haven’t started yet. Think you can put off thinking about retirement? The reality is that you need to start thinking about it right now, and putting aside some money from today.

      There are a lot of benefits of taking early steps towards retirement. Utilize the power of compounding, low investment for targeted corpus and you can create more corpus investing the same money:

      • If someone saves $100 every month and starts investing for 30 years at 10% return, initially you will see that within 5-10 years, your investments will not multiply. However, after that period, the corpus will increase immensely with the impact of compounding. The investment period expands the extent of profits increments in the corpus.
      • Suppose there are two people, one aged 30, and the other 40. Both need to resign at 60 with the same retirement objectives of $300,000 USD each. Both will put resources into an investment with 10% of the return. Thus, to accomplish their retirement objective, the younger one needs to save $100 USD / month and the older one needs to collect $300 USD / month. Since the older one has started investing ten years later than the younger one, he will pay more than double what the younger one will pay.
      • If someone saves $100 USD every month and starts investing at 30 years old till 60 and gets 10% annual return, his corpus becomes around $170,000. Otherwise, if he starts the same amount spending at 40 years of age with the same 10% return, he will have around $57,000 USD. He can profit by just investing ten years early.

      You can’t invest too much money in retirement during the early stage of your career since you may have different objectives. However, you can increase the investment gradually if you start investing just a small amount.

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      Average retirement age

      For many people who are nearing retirement age or recently resigned, one of their most significant financial regrets is that they did not focus on saving for their golden years. As per the Consumer Reports study, it demonstrates that only 28% of investors with the age of 55 years or older are pleased with the way they have saved for retirement.

      As per the report, The Economic Policy Institute breaks down how much Americans have put away.[1] Since you know that when the majority of people retire, you can subtract your age from that more significant number and check down what number of more years you need to work.

      But many retirees go back to work. Some of them do part time job while others do seek for a second career. Some even come back to full-time work and then retire again in a couple of years. So deciding their retirement age could be tricky.

      Average retirement savings

      To get retirement started, saving is pretty easy, though it can seem complicated. These simple five steps will make you go on retirement now. So, you don’t need to stress over having the same regrets as today’s retirees.

      1. Invest 15% for your retirement

      Your initial step is to save 15% of your income. This will depend on your gross income and does not include any coordinating assets you get through your employer’s retirement plan.

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      It’s sufficient to enable you to achieve your retirement investment funds objectives, but not too much to keep you from enjoying your income today.

      2. Utilize tax-advantaged retirement plan

      Yes, we utilized the T-word; however, don’t daydream! Split your 15% retirement contributing budget between charge conceded retirement plans like your 401(k) or after-tax plans like a Roth IRA.

      3. Invest your money around

      To put it all in one place is the most significant risk that you can take with your retirement money. With mutual funds, however, you can invest in the biggest and most recognizable brands as well as that new organizations you’ve never known about but has a lot of growth potential.

      Opt a growth-stock mutual fund with background marked by solid returns for both your 401(k) and Roth IRA speculations.

      4. Stay with it

      Since mutual fund investing is less risky than investing in single stocks, it is not risk-free. You can see your savings grow in the long term as long as you can leave your money where it is and keep adding to it.

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      5. Work with an investing professional

      It is essential to look for an investment professional, as you must have a lot of queries concerning your retirement plan during 30 or more years of investing,

      Never make due with an investment professional who recommends or patronizes you to turn over all your investment choices to them. Since this is your retirement, nobody will think or care about it more than you do!

      You might analyze or compare your savings against the average retirement savings for your age group to check whether you’re falling behind or getting towards of the curve. On the other hand, it might be conceivable to hang up the work boots and hit the shoreline with fewer savings if you live easily or below your means.

      How to achieve your financial goals?

      An ideal approach to achieve your financial goals is to stay focused on what you need for your future, ignore everything (and everyone) else that may divert you. There’s a significant business culture out there that requires you to stay in debt, live for the occasion and stress over your future later on.

      You need to start planning for your future from now, not when you have more time or money to invest. You can even talk to a financial advisor for any help. Cooperate to set your money goals and make an action plan to reach them. You can retire younger than you thought you could if you create a project and follow up on it.

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      Start planning for your retirement

      A lot has changed in the last 30 years; our previous generation had an career goal and they would join either a large private company or a government organization immediately after school or college. Then they would spend the next 38 years in the same organization and the form of provident fund and gratuity. They would retire with a decent corpus and they would later spend the remaining time with their pension benefits. It’s a bit different now, but with the above information, you’ll be well prepared.

      Whether you can afford to retire now or not, you need not bother with a retirement calculator to get a rough estimate. You should have the capacity to closely approximate your daily spending habits to figure out how much money goes out the door every year.

      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

      Reference

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