By Natalie Do
“Something’s gotta give,” Anne ponders after looking at her overwhelming schedule. She has to leave the office by 5 p.m. to pick up her son. Knowing that she can’t fit in everything, Anne cancels her lunch and moves the dentist appointment to tomorrow. She has to rearrange her priorities to make her day work.
Think the same way for your personal finances. You have a set of goals (expenses) and a set of resources (income); you have to make it work with what you have. It sounds simple, right? It is until you factor in credit. We can’t borrow time, but we can certainly borrow money. In our non-cash based economy, it is difficult to keep track of expenses and easy to spend money that we don’t have or at least not yet (so we think). There are many powerful professional women who can manage multi-million dollar corporate budgets. However, they seem to struggle with their personal finances. To gain back control, a working budget is a great place to start.
What’s so sweet about having a good budget/spending plan?
- Emergency Fund – A functional budget will allow you to save money for the rainy days. We have all experienced the fact that rainy days do come; sometimes they turn into storms. Three to nine months of expenses should be in cash/cash equivalents depending on personal financial situations.
- Prudence – When you set financial parameters, you are setting yourself up to make wise choices. For example, first crunch the numbers and shop for a mortgage, then look for a house that fits your budget. Do not try this process the other way around. Too many people fall in love with their dream house first; then they try to squeeze in the monthly payments.
- Freedom – Imagine shopping without guilt or worries. Setting boundaries can give you freedom.
- Peace – When is the last time you and your spouse fought about the budget? Having a good spending plan can help eliminate unnecessary stressful arguments.
- Security – Financial security is a by-product of a sound financial plan. You do not have to make a certain salary or acquire a certain amount of wealth to feel secure. It is about having control of your financial situation.
The most difficult part of creating and sticking to a functional budget is to be realistic on actual expenses (what and how much). Many great tools and resources on personal finances can be found on http://www.fpanet.org. On Saturday October 13 at the Central Library, Los Angeles Financial Planning Day features experts from the Financial Planning Association® and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals. All are volunteering their time and expertise to provide FREE, no strings-attached one-on-one consultation and classroom-style educational presentations addressing key personal finance topics.
Natalie Do is a Vice President, Relationship Manager for Torrey Pines Bank, Beverly Hills. She has a Master’s degree in Personal Financial Planning and is a Certified Financial Planner®. She serves as a board member of Financial Planning Association, LA as Director of Public Relations & Media, steering committee member of Women LAVA, visionary member of STEP UP Women’s network and member of NAWBO. Natalie can be reached at email@example.com