September is usually the beginning of the year for me. I suppose that dates back to my school years when we all started our learning curriculum in September. I also have a clearer picture in September of what funds to expect to come in every month (i.e Social Security increases). I can then curtail our income to meet those expenses, thus my budget is born.
I wasn’t always like this. Nope. I never paid much attention to my finances and thus I used to suffer for it accordingly. Such as, getting hit with $350 a month in uncollected bank fees and other stupid human tax tricks I used to put upon myself.
No more. I’m a good girl, I am, I am. And I have the paperwork to prove it.
I draw up a payment chart, clearly outlining the dates certain funds are posted to my checking account throughout the month. I then align my due bills to meet the expected income and the end result is that I ALWAYS pay my bills before they are due! I follow my self-imposed chart religiously and update it twice a year. Once in the fall/winter and again in the spring/summer. Most of my income is geared towards my bills but I make sure I leave enough cash leftover to cover groceries (about $118 a week), gas for the car (about $30 to $40 a week) and some misc spending money ($100 or so).
Most of my bills are the same each and every month (such as insurance, medical and utilities). There’s a fudge-factor category to cover car maintenance, house maintenance, clothes, haircuts and other once-in-awhile expenditures (like sales!!!!)
Normally, my monthly bills are covered by my monthly income. This month, however, I had to withdraw $500 out of my savings to cover my Maine Vacation. That’s expected and anticipated. That’s what the saving account is there for (within reason). I also had to withdraw $3,400 out of savings to cover our annual school property taxes. In February, we have another planned vacation and more property taxes will be due. Those funds will come out of our savings accounts.
Technically, this money isn’t really ‘savings’. It’s the overflow of hubby’s income whenever he works. I squirrel the money into our savings account so technically, we’re really not touching our savings account. I know this money is supposed to last throughout our true, authentic retirement years BUT the less we tap in to it, the longer it will last.
According to Ric Edelman, ‘The Truth About Retirement‘ (a PBS must-see, click here) there’s a good chance most of us are going to live past 95. Up to now, most financial experts predicted we were all going to die by the time we hit our early 90’s. Not so, according to Ric. Thanks to all the technological advances in science and medicine, there’s a very good chance we are going to live a lot longer than we had originally thought in our retirement planning.
If you haven’t set up a budget yet or some way to track and monitor your expenses, my advice is to start ASAP. Life is long. We need to get our finances under control if we are going to live a lot longer than we expected. We have to make our money last a lot longer as our retirement years are going to be a lot longer too. (and our retirement years are our fun years so it’s best to be prepared IMHO)
Ric Edelman has a whole series of You Tube videos (The Truth About Money)explaining all his new, proven theories on the new, new retirement. I highly recommend you watch Edelman’s informative videos. You can start off by watching this one (and see if you get hooked on Edelman like I did!):