Loving Budgets At Any Age


No matter your age, budgeting isn't for the faint of heart.  No matter your income, managing your personal cash flow plays an important role in achieving your full financial potential.  Each day, I have the pleasure of talking to our members about everyday finances.  Transitioning from life as a student to a young professional, receiving an increase in pay after a recent promotion, or having a large influx of funds from selling a home in retirement all share one thing in common - the benefit of having a budget.  A lack of planning can translate into a missed opportunity, so make the most of the money you have with a plan for the year ahead.  Consider my top three tips to love budgeting at any age:

1. Crunch the numbers:

Before you create your budget, it's important to understand what's coming in and - most importantly - going out.  Some items happen weekly (food) or monthly (mortgage) but other items (winter tires) can happen once a year.  Using post-its on a wall or an Excel spreadsheet on your computer to write it all down is a great starting point.  Then, it's time for goal-setting.  Whether your goal is to pay off existing debt, save for a family trip or retirement, make them real by writing them down.  No matter where you are in life, budgeting can help you get to your goals, one step at a time.  Make a monthly budget, which will likely mean making tough choices, and commit to writing things down. You can also download any of today's popular budget-tracking apps, such as Spending Tracker.

2. Have fun with your budget:

Once you have a budget, make the process of tracking fun!  Consider having a competition with yourself or others in your family to see who can be under budget by the highest percentage in a month.  Or, who can find savings by being creative with meal planning, gifts or activities.  Whether you're keeping receipts in your wallet, photos on your phone or a detailed spreadsheet or app to track, the most important item is coming up with a system that works for you.  For the months you're under budget, move those funds to a separate account in the case an unexpected surprise occurs in the future.  Budget a "reward" for yourself each month for hitting your goals, and budgeting will quickly become a worthwhile habit.  It may be a stretch to say you'll ever "love" budgeting, but you'll certainly be in love with reaching your goals.  

3. Budget for real life:

Life doesn’t always go as planned, but you can set yourself up for success by budgeting for emergencies.  Consider having multiple accounts with smaller, more regular deposits, to save for vacations, emergencies and retirement. That way, when life happens, your options are broader than pulling from tax-free or retirement funds or relying on credit. Budgeting doesn't always come easy, but leaning on people you can trust can make all the difference.

No matter where you are in life, we're here to help. Have questions about how to start with CUA's budget worksheet? Connect with a member of the CUA team at info@cua.com or by calling 902.492.6500.

Emma

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