Your Career Journey: Dealing with your personal budget
You’ve heard it said, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. Nowhere is this as true as in your personal finances. In this post we’ll be dealing with your personal budget.
an estimate of income and expenditure for a set period of time.
*The following blog post is an extract from UPvisor’s Personal Finance course. View the course details here.
The traditional budget takes a monthly view to see whether income will match or exceed expenses.
But, when it comes to cash flow, timing matters! You may spend “excess” cash in one week, only to realise you actually needed that money a week or two later.
So, if the timing of your income doesn’t match to your expenses, you may experience shortfalls. This is where a weekly cash flow budget will be most useful.
A personal cash flow budget will help you to identify:
- Where you are falling short on cash during the month
- Areas where you can cut back on costs
- Where you might be able to change the timing of payments
- Costs that are most critical that you need to be able to cover (e.g., rent)
Once you decide to cut back on certain costs you can slot these lower levels into your personal cash flow budget. But it is important to be realistic. It may be impossible to cut your food bill in half straight away.
You can download a template for your personal weekly cash flow budget here.
Do you have money to spare?
There are different reasons that people decide to save money. It could be to:
- Cover unexpected costs or emergencies
- Prepare for a bill they know is due infrequently (e.g., semi-annual insurance premiums)
- Prepare for annual expenses (e.g., school supplies at the start of the year)
- Build up funds to fund their private goals (e.g., purchasing a TV, car, or putting a deposit down on a house)
Emergencies and unexpected events often happen in our lives. If you are not prepared for them financially (e.g., a vehicle accident), they could affect your ability to make routine payments.
Missing routine payments could result in late fees or penalties. This may subsequently create an added financial burden. Borrowing money for emergency payments will result in further interest charges. In other words, you are using future income to pay for today’s expenses. Flip this concept by saving today for tomorrow’s costs instead.
Although it will differ between people, the rule of thumb is having an emergency fund equal to 3 – 6 months’ salary. Try invest it somewhere it will keep up with inflation, with a short notice period.
Firstly, identify your sources of income and expenses. Then, identify how you can increase your income or cut your expenses. For example:
- Taking on a part-time job
- Working overtime
- Changing an unlimited cellphone plan to a more basic one
- Only going out to the movies once every two months instead of every month
- Eating in versus eating out
- Consolidating expenses by doing all errands in one go (thereby reducing vehicle expenses)
But, the biggest challenge is to learn not to spend the money you save. Different methods work for different people.
- Putting money aside automatically at the start of the month. This way you don’t have access to it unless necessary.
- Using the envelope system to put money aside for specific purposes.
- Putting the money saved into a jar / envelope. Regularly deposit it in a savings account to keep it safe.
- Making use of payroll savings. This is when your employer puts money aside for you on a monthly basis. It is then paid out to you at a later stage.
Planning for the future
It’s a good start to have money set aside for emergencies. But, it isn’t enough. It’s never too early (or too late), to start planning for your future.
This means not only putting money in a savings plan, but also starting to look at investment options. If you haven’t started building up retirement assets, then you need to talk to a financial adviser today! Even if you have just started working in your first year, now is the best time to start.
In our personal finance course, we explore different investment options. Plus, we look at things to consider when plotting out your long-term retirement plan.
Without a budget, you won’t have money to spare, or you might not realise you have money to spare. This means that you won’t be saving money actively. Consequently, emergencies and long-term planning of your finances will become very stressful.
So, by dealing with your personal budget, you can avoid this stress. Join one of our personal finance courses to discover how to free up money for saving and investing, and much more. See you there!