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Take control of your financial destiny with one word: Budgeting

February 13th, 2012 | Posted by Kathy Armstrong in Financial Planning

I’ve never quite understood the vast majority of the public’s aversion to the word “budget.” If you are one of the millions of “budget-phobes” who equate the word with such unappealing terms as “restrictive,” “limiting” and even “scary,” let me share with you some of the terms I associate with the word: “freedom,” “dreams” and “control.”

Why the drastic difference in perception? I believe the answer lies in many individuals’ lack of awareness of the budget’s potential to help them achieve their goals. Some of the soundest advice I give my clients is to examine their lives and then to ask themselves if they like what they see.  Your budget should reflect the life YOU want to live – now and in the future.  Brilliant! 

Hopefully I’ve softened you to the idea of creating a budget for you and your family. If so, and you don’t know where to start, here are a few pointers. First, determine your total annual household income. Next, figure out your expenses. You don’t need any complicated computer software – a simple budget worksheet, which you can download from any number of sites on the Internet, will more than suffice. Hopefully, once you subtract your spending from your income, you’ll have a positive figure. If not, you will definitely need to cut somewhere. (Before you start thinking budget = scary again, think how much scarier and stressful it is to be hounded by creditors!)

Now that you have everything down in black and white, ask yourself what I mentioned earlier: “Do I like what I see?” If what you see and feel is a throbbing reminder of how poorly you’ve managed your debt, resolve to get a better handle on your spending. Make the necessary changes to reflect the life you want to be leading.

Many people do not realize how much they spend on pricey coffees, biscotti and other snacks and insignificant purchases that are forgotten within days. Such purchases can literally amount to thousands of dollars each year. For a real wake-up call, keep dibs on all expenses for two weeks. 

Then ask yourself, is it worth it? Is there anything else I would rather be doing with this money that better reflects my values, dreams and goals?

Hopefully I’ve helped convince you that budgets aren’t restrictive, limiting or scary in the least. On the contrary, they are simple tools that give you the freedom to live the life you want, placing you more firmly in control of your financial situation.

 

Kathy Armstrong is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM professional and works with Heritage Financial Consultants in Hunt Valley.  She is an investment advisor representative through Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp, a registered investment advisor and broker-dealer, member SIPC, 307 International Circle, Suite 390, Hunt Valley, MD  21030, 410-771-5655.  Neither Heritage Financial Consultants nor Lincoln Financial Advisors is affiliated with Howard Bank. CRN 201105-2054472

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