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Budgeting Tips

Any financial planner will tell you that a household budget is fundamental to saving money and creating a financially secure life. But with all of your family's expenses - groceries, bills, gas, wardrobe, etc. - it's hard to know where to begin. Here are some tips from the Financial Planners Association to help you get your household finances in order:

  • Don't call it a budget. Financial planners often prefer other descriptions, such as a "savings and spending plan" or "cash-flow management." The word "budget" connotes making unwanted sacrifices, while a "savings and spending plan" focuses on being in control of your spending and making informed choices for directing your money to where you most want it to go.

  • Budgeting is for everyone. Planners report putting even their most well-off clients on spending plans because they, too, struggle to save adequately and control spending.

  • Spend less than you earn. Building wealth and financial security is based on the simple premise that you spend less than you earn. This is difficult to do if you don't know what you're earning and where you're spending it, which is the purpose of a spending plan.

  • Develop a comprehensive financial plan. It will be difficult to create a useful budget if you don't have a greater financial plan. You will be more motivated to stick to a budget after you've developed a financial plan based on your family's overall monetary goals. Your spending plan should support the goals you decide on.

  • Pick a method that fits you. Some people benefit most from a detailed spending plan that tracks every penny. Others do better on a broader scale, setting aside funds for major expenditures and letting the little stuff fall where it may. Decide which approach is better for you.

  • Take care of priorities first. Regardless of which approach you take to budgeting, be sure your priorities are paid first. This will reduce the amount of money you could potentially waste on less substantial expenses.

  • Track your spending. Even if you prefer a more general approach to budgeting, you should consider tracking all of your spending closely for several months, so as to get an idea of where your money is going. Surprisingly, many households don't have a clue where their money goes. Tracking your spending will help you identify funds you may be able to afford to put into savings.

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