Family and finance: 10 ways setting a personal budget will reduce your stress and save you money
Worrying over money and finance is something a lot of us do, causing stress, tension and often, unfortunately, arguments.
But the thing is – a little bit of financial planning can go a long way when it comes to getting control over your money and helping you save, budget and manage your finances better.
This week we are kicking off a new series on personal finance and how to be clever with your cash here on Herfamily.ie – and hopefully we can all learn a thing or two about financial planning that'll help take the stress and worry out of our family's financial situation. Lucky for us, we got Paul Merriman of askPaul.ie onboard to share his best advice with us – starting with how to do financial planning well by learning how to set your own budget – and live by it.
Paul is an expert when it comes to teaching his clients to take control of their money, and will give us all the tools that we need to put a financial plan in place to make our money work smarter and go further.
One of the most important things to do, a first step, if you will, is to create a personal budget.
Why a personal budget?
- Give yourself control over your money– a budget makes sure your spending and saving is intentional. It helps you decide if you want to sacrifice short term perks (that extra treat each day) for long term benefit (a special holiday).
- A Personal Budget keeps you focused on your money goals– avoid unnecessary spend to be able to afford things that are important to you.
- It makes you aware of unnecessary spend– a budget makes you aware of money coming in, how fast it goes out and where it is going. It allows you to cut out spend that may not have been recognised before.
- Helps you allocate some money to savings– by understanding what the monthly spend needs to be it is easier to see how much can be saved, and what items need to be saved for (car insurance, home repairs).
- Helps you decide as a household how the money will be spent– a budget allows everyone to decide on what is needed in advance and agree how money will work for everyone.
- Allows you to be prepared for expected and unexpected costs– budgeting allows you to plan to set aside money for emergency costs.
- Provides you with early warning for potential problems– by taking a big picture view you will see potential problems in advance.
- Helps determine what financial support you may need– when you understand your financial situation it is easier to see what other support you need.
- Determine how much debt you can take on– Budgeting shows what repayments you can realistically afford.
- Gain extra money– In budgeting, you get to identify and eliminate all unnecessary spending like the app you no longer use, late fees, etc. These seemingly small savings can add up over time.
Think before creating the personal budget
It’s all very well creating a personal budget but if you don’t know where you want to go, how are you going to get there. Put simply, if you are heading off in the car and need help getting to your destination, you will use sat nav or Google Maps. Therefore prior to setting up your financial plan, make sure you set financial goals. If you don’t set your financial goals, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
The very first step is to set out what you want to achieve. Getting rid of that credit card debt, clearing old loans, building an emergency pot, saving for a house or car, once you know what your objectives are, then you can start to create the pathway to meet these goals.
There are several pitfalls to bear in mind before starting your financial planning. Many start their personal budgeting without taking stock of where they are.
You don’t know your current financial situation
A lot of people I meet don’t have a clue what money is coming and going, they think they do but when I put everything in front of them – they are astonished by what they see.
Trying to figure out the current situation can be depressing, shameful and frustrating. A lot of people give up or put it off for another day and then another year goes by, and they’re still in the same situation.
Take an hour a night for a couple of nights in a row to create a clear financial picture. Once you do this, you won’t have to do it ever again and you will get a great sense of achievement.
You don’t track your spending
You need to start tracking what you’re spending, keep all your receipts and then once a week, take 10 mins and sit down and enter it all into your budget. You will be able to see where you’re over spending and identify areas that you can cut back.
You don’t cut back
Start by looking at switching banks, insurance, gas, electricity etc. Pick one every week and check how much you can save by switching or by changing to a better/cheaper plan.
Stop buying your daily morning coffee, bottled water, teas, lunch and you will save a fortune. It all adds up.
You use your debit card - CASH IS KING
When talking to clients I find that many use their debit card and just don’t carry cash. Then I ask them how much they spent last week or the week before and they really don’t know because in most cases they just tap their card and go. My recommendation is to go to your ATM and take out a certain amount of money to do you for the week – even just the working week. You will be more likely to budget if you can see the notes disappearing too quickly in your purse/wallet!
You try to tackle too much
Take baby steps to achieve your goals and the take the right steps to get there. Every week or every fortnight try to implement a new cutback to ensure that you change your behaviour. If you try to do too much all at the same time you can get overwhelmed and give up.
Keep checking in
Review, review, review. Very little is set in stone. Various life events occur which can mean that your income may increase/decrease or your goals may change.
Keep checking and re-adjusting your budget to suit your current situation. Follow the steps above and find a routine that suits you.
Check out Paul's website https://www.askpaul.ie/financial-planning/ and get a free personal budget template and advice in easy to follow steps so you can create your own personal financial plan.