Many people these days are spending copious amounts of money going to see professional financial planners for advice on how to get their money situation under control. But let’s be honest, while a financial planner can show you how to prioritize your spending and how to go about consolidating your debt, surely there must be a way to plan your finances that doesn’t cost you visits to a professional? This article has been written to open some people’s eyes to the fact that it is possible to properly plan your finances from the comfort of your own home.
The main aim when planning your finances is to make everything as simple as possible. There is nothing worse than sinking so far into depression that you can’t see a way out. Whether you are in debt and looking to get out of it of if you are simply looking for a way to keep a little more spending money aside each month, the simpler you make your planning the better the result you will get. From the beginning, you need to be realistic. I’ll start with the example of a single income situation, firstly you need to calculate what your net pay is per month. If you’re self employed or not on a regular pay, always calculate the worst-case-scenario, what is the lowest you might get paid. Then go through your monthly bills and write down the ones that are a fixed amount. Do the same for all other bills but use the worst-case-scenario again, what is your estimation of the most that those bills might be. Add everything up and subtract it from your net income total.
Next onto the incidental expenses you might run into on a monthly basis. These might include petrol, car upkeep, public transport fares, food etc. make a list of all the little expenses you might need money for in a month. Even things that you’re not sure you might need to buy. Don’t add general spending money to the list, be specific. Always add more to the totals if you’re not sure as you can fine tune it later. Again, subtract your total from the money left over from your bills. Don’t worry if you’ve gone into the negative figures here, we can fix it.
Once you’ve got your expenses total in front of you, obviously any money that is left over is your profit for the month. In the event that you have nothing left or have gone into the minus figures, the next step is to minimize your expenses. Pretty straight forward, huh? Any incidental expenses that you might not need, remove them. And any expenses you know you will have, like food and petrol for example, really get down to the lowest spend on them. How much do you really need to spend on them? Your aim should be to save at least $50 per month after spending money. All that extra builds up and gives you a nice petty cash at the end of a few months!
If you are in a multiple-income situation, the same process applies. You need to start building up that petty cash tin. There will always be unexpected expenses, everyone knows that. In truth, the basis of comfortable living is really the knowledge that you can afford to pay for something unexpected.
To finish, all of this can be done on a piece of paper if you want to invest a little time, or you can lay it all out on an Excel spreadsheet. The way that saves the most time is to use a Financial Planning software program, you enter the numbers and the program gives you an automatic monthly planner. Whatever way you choose to go, always remember to keep it as simple as possible. When you’re following a plan, the pressure on you will decrease. What more could there be to comfortable living?