I have a confession to make. I dislike budgeting. I have been in the finance industry for over 20 years now and have taught or advised thousands of people. The first thing I tell them to do? Start a budget! To be honest, I cringe on the inside when I say that. In my opinion, the word “budget” or “spending plan” is more feared than bankruptcy, foreclosure, and debt! This is one of the reasons I created these free financial tools and resources below to make things easier for you!
Given how much I don’t want to do a budget, I can understand everyone else’s resistance as well. Most people would rather watch paint dry. How do I know? A recent survey shows that 61% of people do not keep track of their money. They have no idea how much money comes in, or how much goes out!
On top of that only 31% of American families have a financial plan, just 35% have a plan in place in case of a financial emergency, and only 18% are confident they can retire. When asked about the six most common financial goals: saving for emergencies, retirement, a child’s education, down payment on a house, major expense, and medical expenses, only two-thirds have a plan to meet any of them.
Those with a financial plan are 70% more likely to feel “very confident” about managing money, savings, and investments. Planners are also more likely to describe themselves as “living comfortably” compared to non-planners. So clearly creating a budget and financial plan is important. There is no way you can be financially successful without knowing how much you make and how much you spend. People get into financial trouble when they spend more than they have, take on debt they can’t get out of, and have nothing to show for it.
The famous singer Rihanna sued her accountant claiming that she was “effectively bankrupt” after getting bad advice from him. The accountant fired back “Was it really necessary to tell her that if you spend money for things you will end up with the things, and not the money?”
In order to proactively manage your money, you have to budget. But how fun is it to tediously go through each of your transactions and track every penny? When I first started budgeting in college, I wrote every expense in a notebook. That didn’t last long. I then created a massive excel spreadsheet with complicated equations that ended up only confusing myself. Strike 2.
Next I purchased Quicken and Microsoft Money (no longer available since people weren’t using it!). I can’t tell you how many times I would start, stop, and get started again. Some people live and die by Quicken and I completely understand since it really is a good tool if you are willing to put the time into it. I still use it but not as much as before. I also got annoyed that I had to buy the new versions every year for the updates.
Eventually I spent more time downloading and categorizing my transactions than actually understanding my overall financial picture. Strike 3 for me! Thankfully, we can now leverage technology even more to make budgeting easier.
Online budgeting programs and apps have made it more intuitive to track our finances. You can check from your computer or mobile device anywhere at anytime. My favorite program is an online SMART portal I use that connects all of my financial accounts, automatically downloads my transactions, helps me categorize and analyze my spending in real-time, and then creates a budget for me!
I can then adjust my spending goals for each category and easily monitor my progress. With a few simple clicks much of the work is done for me! I also have it connected to my financial planning software where it helps me manage my overall financial health while getting a 360 degree view of all my financial activity.
The whole purpose of a budget is to create smarter spending habits, but you can’t do that if you can’t see the big picture. There are many personal financial management app on the market to help you do this.
Want to learn more? Click Here to Sign-Up for the 4-Step System to Wealth and Financial Freedom!
This Course will show you how you to:
- Invest like the wealthy and create a guaranteed lifetime income stream for the rest of your life
- Take control of your finances and achieve financial peace of mind (even if you started late!)
- Create a SMART Lifestyle Financial Plan to enjoy life today and restore confidence in your future!
- Reach your financial goals sooner and live life the way you want to do
- Learn from the world’s most successful investors and how they many money even when the markets crash
- And much more!
Click on the links below to download free samples of financial tools necessary for financial success! For more information on them, visit the other articles on the blog. Good luck! Click on the link to download a free sample budget:
- Sample Excel Budget (the sheet has equations which will automatically populate when you enter the information)
Click on the link to download a free sample financial statement sheet (also known as a net worth document):
- Sample Excel Financial and Net Worth Statement (the sheet has equations which will automatically populate when you enter the information)
Click on the link to download Credit Report and Credit Score Resources:
Click on the link to download Financial Plan Samples:
Click on the link for Financial Calculators:
My Top List of Personal Financial Management Apps and Programs
- Mint Bills (Formerly Check and Pageonce)
This chart below shows the Median Household Net Worth by Age in the U.S. Where are you at?
Net worth is essentially calculated by taking everything you own (called assets that include investments, real estate, personal property, etc) and subtracting everything you owe (called liabilities that include credit card debt, loans, etc).
For this graph below, assets include: Interest-earning assets held at financial institutions, stocks and mutual fund shares, rental property, home ownership, IRA and Keogh accounts, 401k and Thrift Savings Plans, vehicles, and regular checking accounts. The major assets not covered in this measure are equities in pension plans, the cash value of life insurance policies, and the value of home furnishings and jewelry. The liabilities included are: Mortgages on own home, mortgages on rental property, vehicle loans, credit card debt, educational loans, and medical debt not covered by insurance.
Median net worth is the amount that divides households into two equal groups, one having net worth less than that amount and the other having net worth above that amount. Householder is the person in whose name the home is owned or rented as of the interview date. If the home is owned jointly by a married couple, the person whose name is listed first on the householder roster is considered the householder.
Quintile is the portion of a frequency distribution containing one-fifth of the total sample. Each quintile represents 20 percent, or one-fifth, of all households. Median net worth statistics within quintiles of the net worth distribution are at the 10th, 30th, 50th, 70th, and 90th percentiles.
So if you are in the third quintile, that means you have more wealth than 50% of your age group. The fourth quintile means your net worth is more than 70% of your age group.