Improve Your Budgeting Skills With These Simple Tips
Saving and budgeting for the future seems like an impossible goal to millions of Americans living paycheck to paycheck. It’s not. What if you could go out on weekends, buy cool stuff, and still retire in comfort? It’s a goal you can achieve without as much pain and suffering as you might think. Here are a few ways you can start your path to financial freedom today.
1. Create a Budget
The word budget often puts a bad taste in people’s mouths and for good reason. An image of you eating ramen noodles around a barrel fire to save on food and electricity costs might come to mind. However, a budget is less about skimping by with the bare minimum and more about seeing where your money is going every month.
If you know where you money is going, you’re more likely to save money for retirement, save for an emergency, and make conscious financial decisions. If you do start a budget, you’ll be in the minority of Americans that actually make the effort every month to monitor their income and expenses.
2. Save for Retirement
This may seem like a pretty obvious tip, but over half of Americans don’t have a retirement fund at all. If nothing else, start by establishing a budget, setting aside a certain amount of money every month and sticking to it. As your nest egg grows and you get a little more serious about retirement, consider how much you’ll need to leave the workforce. For most, that’s around 70 percent to 90 percent of your preretirement income.
If an employer is offering a 401(k) plan, use it! Your company might contribute a significant amount, taxes could be lower on that income, and it’s automatically deducted from your paycheck. Similarly, although less common, some companies continue to offer pension plans to their employees. Whichever retirement fund you have, remember to read the details or have your financial advisor check it over, especially if you plan to leave to your job.
Lastly, let’s talk about Social Security benefits. There’s been speculation that this program will be scrapped in the next few decades, but it’s likely not going away any time soon. What’s this mean for you? Well, according to the US Department of Labor, employees receive 40 percent of their preretirement income. That’s a pretty substantial amount! To get a better estimate of your benefits, visit the Social Security calculator.
3. Start an Emergency Fund
Life has its ups and downs, with some worse than others. An emergency fund, combined with insurance, can save you from an absolute financial devastation. Depending on your situation, you’ll want to have anywhere from 3 to 6 months saved for living expenses. You could get laid off, injured, or get critically ill, so don’t wait. For short-term investments that allow you to pull money, look into a CD, or a simple savings account at your local banking institution.
4. Buy Something Fun
With all this talk of retirement, budgeting, and other unfun topics, it’s easy to feel a little overwhelmed. That’s why you should buy something fun for yourself in between the saving and the scrimping. This doesn’t mean you should blow your retirement savings on a Ferrari, a house in the Hamptons, or on your fantasy football team. With that said, always find something you want that will break up the monotony of saving and keep you motivated.
In The End
At the end of the day, we’re all human and life is what you make it. Many save blindly for fear of a day that might never come, while others blow their money as soon as they get it. Selecting reasonable goals, being comfortable in retirement, and enjoying life is what financial responsibility is all about. If you currently need a financial advisor to help establish a budget, start a retirement fund, or manage your current funds, contact us to get the ball rolling.