Can I get a show of hands out there, who works with a budget? Who actually enjoys working with a budget? Foundations Divorce is launching into our money basics series on Build Your Foundation and will start with the most basic item, the budget.
I confess I hate working within a budget and I’m not one who checks my bank statement at the end of the month to add everything up to the penny. I have friends who spend every weekend reviewing their bank accounts and registers, double-checking to make sure every quarter, dime, nickel, and penny has been accounted for. Every one of us is different in how we approach money. Some of us are excited when we think about finance and money whereas others find ourselves feeling anxious when we think about money, and sometimes the lack thereof. Statistically, many couples who are facing divorce are due to finances and how each spouse handles finance differently from the other.
I know growing up, my parents definitely were not on the same page about finances. As an immigrant family, it was sink or swim. Keep the roof over our heads and keep food on the table. There were no other options. My mom focused on making sure every penny was accounted for while my dad was a lot more carefree in the spending. My mom never spent any money on herself. I never knew her to go and spend money on anything that was not a necessity. Even when my brother and I were kids, she would take us to McDonald’s and we would get our Happy Meals but she never ordered anything for herself. My dad on the other hand, if we went to our favorite Chinese restaurant for a special family dinner, we would inevitably run into someone he knew and he would always pick up their dinner tab.
Needless to say, my parents had financial conflicts and I grew up with my own conflicts on learning to work with money and learning to work within a budget based on their very divergent examples. Trust me, I hate having to track my spending and being more mindful about budgeting as I would rather defer to being generous, even to my financial detriment, like my dad. There is a balance though and there is a way to put a roof over your head and put food on the table but also be able to be generous with your money and bless others with a meal or a gift.
So let’s talk about the ABC’s of budgeting basics and learn from them to take the steps toward a sound financial foundation.
A – ADD UP YOUR INCOME AND EXPENSES
One way I help my clients going through divorce is by creating and reviewing what their budget will look like post-divorce. We go through their income before taxes and other deductions, account for the deductions and then review every item which they may need to account for. We go through everything from household expenses including mortgage or rent, living expenses including utilities and car payments, medical insurance and expenses, to day-to-day budget items such as groceries. When you add up your income and all of your expenses, you can clearly see if you end up in the black or in the red at the end of every month. The ultimate goal of a budget is to get you to the black and to stay in the black.
B – BE IN THE BLACK
When your monthly budget ends up in the red due to foreseeable expenses, the difficult truth is that it’s time to reassess how you are spending your money. There is a lot of psychology in why we spend our money as we do and how we choose what we spend our money on. Your priorities show up clearly when you actually take the time to review how you are actually spending your money. The work of looking at your spending is hard work. To sit down and be honest and clear with yourself and your finances is a daunting task but knowing whether you are ending in the black or in the red and then having to rob Peter to pay Paul at the end of every month is worth knowing. Unless you know where you land at the end of every month, you cannot take the difficult but determined steps to get in the black. Working with a money coach to help you take these steps may be an option you want to look at. A money coach can help you look at your finances and help put together digestible steps to help you create a budget that works for you and help you meet your financial goals.
C – CREATE YOUR BUDGET
Once you know what your income is and what your expenses are on a monthly basis, you can now look at creating a budget that works for you. Keep in mind that when you start your budgeting journey, your budget may look one way, and then after some time of keeping with the budget, you may start to tweak and shift how much money you put into each category. This is also when you can start to create new goals for you and your family. Whether it’s saving for a vacation or moving from a rental house to a new home, being clear and creating a budget that works for you is essential.
In our next post, we will discuss further about setting your budget and financial goals. If you would like help or would like to discuss today’s topic further, please contact us at Foundations Divorce Solutions. We would love to work with you on the ABC’s of your personal and personalized budget.