I believe you deserve to live a life full of vitality, intimacy, confidence and courage.
I discussed these life-changing benefits of conscious spending in my last column. (http://bit.ly/BenefitsOfConsciousSpending) Today, I want to kick off a 12-part series to help you realize these benefits.
Along the way, you will learn how to take control of your money, get out of debt and live the life of your dreams.
These are big promises, but I wouldn’t make them if I didn’t know from personal experience that it’s possible to achieve them.
Taking control of your money is a four-part process:
Create a realistic budget.Understand what your budget is telling you.Use the techniques that eliminate financial chaos.Implement a money management system.Gallup polls show that only one in three Americans creates a monthly budget and that a significant number of us are worried about paying our bills, not being prepared for medical bills, paying for our kids to attend college and saving for our retirement.
Not having a budget and being worried about money are correlated. I know. I’ve been there.
Your budget should be based on your priorities and include accumulating money for future expenses.
Here is a link to the budget I use with my clients: http://bit.ly/RealisticBudget.
If you don’t know how much money you bring home and when you get paid, you can’t budget. Start by calculating your monthly take-home pay and when you get paid.
Now, on to your expenses. They will fall into four levels, with Level 1 being most important. Use my sample as a template or create your own on paper or in a spreadsheet.
Level 1 – Essentials: rent/mortgage, utilities, groceries and gas for your car. Level 2 – Obligations: loans, credit card debt, student loans or other financial agreements that carry consequences if they go unpaid.Level 3 – Less-than-monthly expenses: predictable but irregular expenses, such as car repairs, medical bills, home maintenance and holiday gifts. Level 4 – Small luxuries: money for having fun, going out to restaurants and miscellaneous spending. Be sure to include spending money, too, even if it’s just a little. As you write down your expenses in each level, list them from most to least critical.
Prioritizing will help you when it comes time to eliminate some spending.
It’s natural for it to take about three months to get your budget to reflect your actual spending. Getting started and sticking with it is what’s important.
As you go through my 12-part series, you will find that your stress diminishes, your relationships improve and financial chaos disappears. Next month, we’ll take a look at what your budget is telling you.
Durango resident and personal finance coach Matt Kelly owns Momentum: Personal Finance. www.personalfinancecoaching.com.