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Petsis Posts: Budgeting for Beginners (Part 1/2)

| February 24, 2021

As a financial planner, I enjoy putting paper to pencil (or fingers to excel) in order to create and maintain my family budget. My wife and I finalized ours earlier this year.

We have had a personal family budget since we were married, however like most we have struggled to follow it perfectly. It takes practice, dedication and patience. I suggest a detailed budget accounting for every dollar, in and out.

However, for those who wish to start out budgeting, I encourage you to take a more macro approach to budgeting using the 50/30/20 method. This easier to use reproach only asks us to divide our expenses into 3 categories; the below pic was taken from the NerdWallet website:

Financial Needs are the things that are necessary for physical and security needs, as found on Maslow's Hierarchy. These things include non-discretionary Housing expenses, Groceries (not dining out!), Healthcare, Utilities, Transport, Insurance premiums.

Financial Wants are things that we want but don't necessarily need. These things including takeout of any sort, latest technology,your bar tab, hobbies, Netflix, Disney, Amazon Prime and HBO, gym membership (if not required for a health reason)

Financial Goals are future savings such as building an emergency fund, savings for retirement or education, savings for a house and accelerating debt repayments.

You could download one of many budgeting apps (I encourage you to read the terms and conditions carefully) or download a subscription to Quick-books self employed. For ~ $7 dollars/month they will track your personal and business expenses as well as miles. From a low tech standpoint, you could always import your monthly transactions from your bank account, cards and payment apps to a spreadsheet and categorize them 50/30/20 there.

There are some limitations to the 50/30/20 budgeting approach, the glaring one of which is applying it to a millennial type financial profile. 20% for savings may not be enough to accomplish the goals of saving for retirement, saving for a home purchase and paying down student debt.

We all work hard for our hard earned money, and keeping track of every cent in my opinion is integral to financial success.