Following is an excerpt from the most recent Baltimore Gay Life Personal Finance column by Amanda Wooddell Wilhelm, a Manager at SC&H Group.
With beach season just around the corner, many of us are starting to focus on developing a springtime fitness regime that will get is us maximum shape. Although focusing on diet and exercise this time of year is a great thing, it’s also the right time to develop a financial fitness program.
Monthly financial planning is vital, and should not be overlooked. In fact, a study from National Foundation for Credit Counseling found that two out of five Americans don’t even have a monthly budget. This can be costly to you in the long run, and can impact everything from college savings to retirement planning.
Here are the top 5 monthly financial planning tips that will get you into top shape:
- Define Your Spending Priorities: Decide what is important (i.e., mortgage and other living expenses), then cut the least critical items from your budget.
- Track Your Expenses: Start by looking at your checkbook or online bank statements and see where excess spending is occurring. You may be surprised at how much money you are spending on non-essential items.
- Buy Income and Expense Tracking Software: Install Quicken on your computer, or set up an account at com. These programs can tell you when bills are coming up and help analyze your overall spending behavior.
- Put Your Savings on Autopilot: If possible, automatically divert a portion of each paycheck into your savings account. In a short amount of time, you will see your savings increase with minimal effort.
- Find the Right Financial Advisor: The right financial advisor can help you correctly assess your monthly budget situation, and build out the best plan.