Thanks for your feedback from the last post, it was great to get some comments/questions!
This week, I think that I want to focus on something that is essential to financial stability – building a budget.
As most of you know, I am an engineer. As such, I have been trained to be detail oriented and to pinch pennies. I can’t help it! I can’t even walk into a fast food restaurant anymore without the urge of pointing out where the inefficiencies lie. Fortunately, this critical thinking has a fiscally positive impact.
One of the first things Devra and I worked on once she moved to Kentucky was developing a budget we could stick to. I would argue that this is one of the most important conversations you can have with your significant other.
Budgeting allows you to plan for the future; it takes the focus off of there here and now and reveals a more complete picture. I have a friend who has been trying to dig his way out of debt for a couple years now, when he discovered how useful of a tool budgeting was, he stopped living paycheck to paycheck and was able to establish and track financial goals and responsibilities.
One of the best tools I’ve found is called Mint (https://www.mint.com/). Mint allows you to import and track all of your bank accounts, credit cards, loans, investments… you name it, all in place. Better than that, it’s free! They have a budgeting tool that really helps you figure out where your money is (or will be going) and allows you to see where you stand at any point during the month. Once you set up the budget, all you have to do is keep an eye on it and make sure mint is putting the transactions you make into the correct category. For example, if you buy something off of Amazon as a gift for someone, mint will count that in the shopping category while you may want it categorized as a gift. Overall, Mint is a great tool and is really good for making your first steps toward developing a budget.
For those of you who want to have a more hands on approach to budgeting, let me suggest a website to you.
My own family makes fun of me for how much I use excel, but I don’t care. It’s an amazingly helpful program that I use on a daily basis (not kidding!). This website has a ton of great spreadsheet templates that you can use. The personal budget template offers you more control over the categories you want to monitor. I found it especially helpful for tracking multiple incomes and savings accounts.
Well, I hope that these tools help some of you keep track of all those cash monies! In the next post, I will probably be talking about setting financial goals, make sure you check back! And as always, you can ask questions or leave comments!
Here is a little deal for snapfish that I came across – Devra and I are decorating our house with wedding pics and such: http://www.livingsocial.com/cities/149-lexington/deals/458220-30-to-spend-on-photo-gifts