Fortune 500 Budgeting For Our Personal Lives
January and February are traditionally busy months in the financial industry as many New Years resolutions typically include the goal of becoming debt free or saving for a major purchase. While many of our clients understand the importance of getting professional help when managing their business bookkeeping, only a few think to ask for our services in managing their personal finances.
In the business world, a budget is a financial framework that provides checks and balances to prevent overspending and ensures the availability of funds should the company run into unexpected trouble and requires capital. These same principles can be applied to our personal lives.
We are still close enough to the Christmas holidays to understand how easy it can be to overspend. Presents for the kids, dinners with family and friends, new clothes for the New Years Eve party all can add up to significant debt come January. Im reminded of a Visa commercial that typically gets a lot of airplay in December: The postman comes bearing the monthly bills. The Visa statement is opened showing a large listing of purchases all with zero balances and the recipient cant believe his luck and faints from the shock. The commercial advertises the Win What You Buy Contest. The more you buy, the more chances you have to win. A certain recipe for financial disaster!
While statistically speaking I dont know the chances of winning the Visa promotion, I havent met or read about one person who has. We shouldnt base our spending on the chances of winning our purchases or even the lottery. With a little common sense and a trusty calculator, you can manage your spending and save for the future and for unexpected expenses - and feel like youve won the lottery!
Fortune 500 companies rely on budgeting and financial reporting. CEOs of major corporations do not make a move without consulting their financial plan. Revenue and expenses are carefully tracked and estimates are created for variable expenses. Corporate debt is studied with the goal of reducing amounts owing without incurring additional debt. Money is diligently earmarked for future expenses and “rainy days.” Almost every financial expenditure is determined a year before incurred – a business cannot thrive without actively managing its cash flow. Most people understand that business success relies on creating a budget and sticking to it. Im here to tell you that personal success does too.
Everyone talks about setting up a budget and sticking to it, but how do you really go about figuring out what your budget is, or should be
There are a few simple steps to creating a personal budget. We’ll use the example of Steve, a computer technician.
1. Calculate your income
Calculate your monthly household income from all sources: salary, investment income, pension funds, lottery winnings - both yours and that of your spouse or partner.
For example, Steve earns $50,000 after taxes annually. He has no other income. Dividing by 12, Steve calculates his monthly income as $4,166.67.
2. Determine your ESSENTIAL expenses
Steve has certain fixed monthly expenses. He lists them as:
3. Calculate a monthly cost for ESSENTIAL expenses.
The expenses that Steve has deemed essential are a mix of fixed and variable costs. He notes the fixed payments first, assigning their values as:
Mortgage payment $1,300 Automobile lease payment $ 385 Automobile insurance $ 130
To better gauge his variable expenses, Steve creates an expense log and records all his purchases for the two-month priors to setting up his budget. He also examines his old utility statements to determine his average expenses and is able to assign the following values:
Groceries $ 200 Utilities $ 400 Telephone incl. Long distance $ 50 Fuel $ 250
Knowing that his variable expenses are based on an average of prior expenses, Steve sets aside $200 per month to cover periods when expenses may be higher than his estimate.
Steve calculates his monthly ESSENTIALS cost as $2,915.00
4. Determine and calculate your non-essentials
Steve examines the spreadsheet he created for step 3 and identifies some other common expenses.
Entertainment $ 50 Meals incl. Daily coffee $ 100 Gifts weddings, birthdays, etc. $ 100 Books and magazines $ 50 Miscellaneous $ 25
Steve’s monthly non-essential expenses total $325
Steve creates a new spreadsheet with the information he has calculated thus far. He calculates his disposable income as:
Monthly income: $4,166.67 Less: ESSENTIALS $2,915.00 Less: Non-essentials $ 325.00 Disposable income $ 926.67
5. Establish monthly contributions towards debt elimination and savings:
Steve amassed some debt while in school and owes $5,000 on his credit line. He would also like to purchase a vehicle rather than lease and plans to take a trip to Europe in two years to visit family.
He decides on the following monthly contributions:
Debt $ 450.00 Savings $ 300.00
Steve deducts his monthly contributions from his disposable income and is left with $176.67, which he decides to leave in his checking account to cover other incidentals and miscellaneous expenses he may have overlooked. He makes a plan, however, to transfer $500 to his savings account when the balance in his checking account exceeds $1,000.
It’s easy to see that you can write out a plan yourself or use a software package to set up a budget - no need to hire a professional accountant. It’s important to know where your money is coming from and where it is going so that you won’t have any unpleasant surprises – and maybe just enough money left over at the end of the day to buy that lottery ticket you’ve been hoping for!
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The Cultural Narcissist - Lasch In An Age Of Diminishing Expectations
"The new narcissist is haunted not by guilt but by anxiety. He seeks not to inflict his own certainties on others but to find a meaning in life. Liberated from the superstitions of the past, he doubts even the reality of his own existence. Superficially relaxed and tolerant, he finds little use for dogmas of racial and ethnic purity but at the same time forfeits the security of group loyalties and regards everyone as a rival for the favors conferred by a paternalistic state. His sexual attitudes are permissive rather than puritanical, even though his emancipation from ancient taboos brings him no sexual peace. Fiercely competitive in his demand for approval and acclaim, he distrusts competition because he associates it unconsciously with an unbridled urge to destroy. Hence he repudiates the competitive ideologies that flourished at an earlier stage of capitalist development and distrusts even their limited expression in sports and games. He extols cooperation and teamwork while harboring deeply antisocial impulses. He praises respect for rules and regulations in the secret belief that they do not apply to himself. Acquisitive in the sense that his cravings have no limits, he does not accumulate goods and provisions against the future, in the manner of the acquisitive individualist of nineteenth-century political economy, but demands immediate gratification and lives in a state of restless, perpetually unsatisfied desire."
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Can I Have Your Autograph
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Newsletter from East Africa August 2003
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