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Saving Towards Your Goals

April 04, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 148

I wrote this article because I discovered a true need to help people understand how to track and budget first. Then the investments, REITs and whole life insurance will follow; but it doesn't just happen. The client has to create their personal financial plan first, without the distraction of an "investment advisor". My goal is to help you, the reader, come away with tips on how to track your own expenses, and create a simple financial plan so you know what your goals and what you want to do before the broker attempts to draw it out of you with attempted psychological persuasion and outright request of a sale. The one area with clients that was remarkably successful was doing a tracking sheet of monthly income minus monthly expenses. This tool allowed the client to see first hand how their spending habits were affecting their saving habits. The more detail oriented the plan, the more success that followed.

Key Steps to Goal•track all expenses •create a dream fund•stay disciplined

Let me tell you a dirty little secret. Microsoft office has a budget and tracking software program that is equally sophisticated as the program (Profiles Professional) your "advisor" uses to track your expenses. What separates your program and theirs is absolutely nothing. Even a personal budgeting program has interactive movies, tracking software, educational pieces and such. You, the client have so many ways to track your expenses; you can get it on an app on your phone. Truly, you can budget regardless of your informational lifestyle choices. And you the client can do a much better job, because you are not focused on a sale, and you know your habits better than your advisor.

Create a Dream Fund. If you had all the resources in the world, money were no object, what would you be doing right now? I know what I would do, I would spend my time helping people, but I would also take my kids to the Grecian Islands and explore artifacts with a college professor. Is your dream to go on a romantic European tour of Italy with your partner? You know your dreams better than I can ever hope to. So start writing them down! And take the bus, car, boat to your local bank an open a dream savings account. Many banks now have very flexible ways of helping you save money with them. For example, TD Bank has a Christmas Club account, a Savings Account. Bank of America ie gives examples. Take ten dollars out of your purse/wallet and open your account today. If all you have is 1 dollar in change. Take that change and put it aside in a jar. Save your pennies, your dimes, nickels. A good friend of mine said a penny saved is worthless. Wrong! 400 pennies is four dollars in your pocket. Just getting started, it's easier to bootstrap with ten dollars being the goal -then it builds from there. Before you know it, there's 80 dollars in your account, then 100, well you catch my theme.

Stay Disciplined. Make a goal to put money in that account once a month, every six months. What I really recommend is every week. Do what's best for you. We tend to live our lives in 1 week cycles. Monday, Tuesday....Weekend. Why not do the same for your finances? A little bit of discipline and change can add up to a lot. Before you know it, you are developing momentum. Saving becomes more exciting. Dreams are blurring from the background view and coming into the foreground. Now, none of this is easy. It's difficult. But imagine the feeling when you have reached your goal.

Track Expenses. This is an extremely important part of getting out of debt. Let me tell you another secret. Your investment advisor has a similar tool that you have in your computer. He or she most likely has Profiles Professionals, and you have Microsoft Money. Most computers these days are extremely intuitive. All you have to do is go into a computer (doesn't have to be new) and check our software application. In my case, I have Microsoft Money. My personal computer allows me to list my bank accounts, with balances, my mortgage with a timetable of when it will be paid up, and a budget sheet. Your financial advisor will ask you to do your "homework". Go through your credit card statements, mortgage, account balances, pension funds, 401k's or 403b's. List everything. Check everything with a dollar sign. Then list will's, trusts, etc. You will get a complete picture by doing all of this on your own. You don't need the financial advisor for this part.

Budget. Track every dollar that leaves your pocket. Keep your receipts and put them in a manila envelope. At the end of the month, you will receive a clear unbiased view of what you are spending your money on. Categorize your expenses from your musts and your wants. If your budget is experiencing a shortfall, cut the current expenses that represent your wants. Instead of eating out every week, try going for a slightly nice place once a month, and save the difference. Instead of a smart-phone, invest in a more traditional cellular device. Shop around, see if you can't get a better deal with another carrier. For example, Microsoft Money is extremely intuitive. Just click on the budget button and follow the prompts to create a comprehensive budget. This will save you time with a fee based financial planner.

This is all it takes. Tracking. Acting and Saving.

Your budget is really a lifestyle plan. What kind of lifestyle do you want 10 years from now. Is owning real estate important to you? Do you enjoy travel? Do you want to start your own business? These are all important factors to consider when deciding what kind of budget you want to strive for. This will help you guide your choices in employment or business ownership. Now I'm not going to leave your broker in the dust. They have a place in your life. Once you have mastered your budget, and have started saving for you future, it's time to find a trusted advisor who can help you with your finances, and point you in the direction of investment options that would be of benefit to you. If you are self-directed in personality, then you may want to learn the funds and options available to you first. The best advisor is the professional who can take a step back and assess your full situation honestly, and to your best interest.!/pages/Elizabeth-Minelli/154594611285878?sk=wall

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