Keep Your Finances on Track

Ray’s Take Not being careful about precisely where your money is going can leave you struggling to pay for necessities like groceries now and retirement later. Taking just a small amount of time to do some tasks now can lead to big financial wins all year long – and into the future.

Two of the best moves are to meet with a financial planner and set up a budget. These go hand in hand and get you on the right road to financial security. Financial choices become much easier once you have a clear vision of where you’re going and when you want to get there.

The budget seems to have a negative connotation for many people as most focus on the limits it seems to place on them. I think just the opposite. Budgets can be built with plenty of flexibility. More importantly, sticking with them is freeing in more ways than most imagine. They can free you to quit work some day and do whatever you want to do. They can allow you to provide the gift of education to your children. Money is a very good servant but a terrible master. Budgets allow you to take charge.

An airplane flying from New York to Los Angeles is off course multiple times on the trip. They use regular course corrects along the way to get back on track. That’s where your planner comes in. Regular annual reviews help your plan deal with the curves that life and the capital markets have on things. 

Don’t kid yourself that your planner has a crystal ball on the markets and interest rates. All of those projections and graphs can be changed in the blink of an eye. If you don’t roll up your sleeves and get back on track, days can turn into years, making it many times harder to get where you want to go.

Seeking out and using a good financial planner can help you make small adjustments that will have a big impact.

Dana’s Take John D. Rockefeller famously carried a pocket notebook where he recorded his expenses. My grandmother, likewise, kept a notebook of daily expenses. This Depression-era practice may be due for a revival.

Staying on top of your personal finances can be challenging, tedious and even discouraging, but for most people, this process is a necessary evil. 

Make it easier for yourself by having a system for recording everything you spend. It doesn’t matter if we use something as simple as a pocket notebook, an Excel spreadsheet, or something more complex like a computer program that categorizes and keeps a running tab. 

Having something in place that gives you a picture at a glance is a great way to alert you to how and where you are spending your money so you can make adjustments. It’s your money – there’s no sense in lying to yourself about how much you’re spending.

Create a system, even if it’s a pocket notebook. The most important part of keeping track of your finances is consistency.  

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