Have you ever felt like you're walking on a treadmill with your personal finances - doing a lot of work but not getting anywhere? If so, you may need a spending plan to get back on track. A spending plan is a tool for prioritizing your financial goals and managing your money to reach them.
We're all familiar with the way small, daily expenses can consume a $20 bill in the blink of an eye. But have you ever really kept a record of where your money goes? Tracking your spending for a month or two is the first step in developing a plan. When you write down an expense, put it in one of these categories: fixed (insurance premiums, mortgage payment or rent, car loan, etc.); variable (food, clothing, entertainment, utilities, etc.); or savings/investments.
The other side of the equation is money coming in. You'll want to list all incoming funds for the same period you track your spending. Include all the money you received, including your salary, child support, tips, and gifts.
Building a Plan
Once you have these records, a monthly spending plan that matches your income and expenses can be developed. The most workable spending plans:
- Limit monthly allocations of expenses, including savings, to available after-tax income
- Set aside money each month for larger expenses that are paid sporadically during the year
- Give each person in the family the flexibility to spend a certain amount as that person sees fit (a personal allowance)
- Are updated for periodic hikes in insurance premiums, property taxes, and the like
- Provide a cushion for unforeseen expenses
Having goals is one issue; reaching them is another. You know your financial priorities - we can help you develop a workable plan for making sure they're met.