1. Meet all your financial needs. A budget lets you fine tune spending to meet all needs: short-term (monthly bills and groceries); mid-term (that summer vacation); and long-term (home down payment, college, retirement). A budget shows the expenses you can't avoid (utility bills) and those you can postpone (another dinner out), so you can cut short-term spending to meet long-term goals.
2. Cut waste. Let's say your budget shows you spend $800 a month on food. But that includes coffee on the way to work, soda from a vending machine, and a sports drink at the gym. Over the month, this adds up to a big chunk. You can cut 75% of it with coffee from home, soda and sports drinks from the supermarket, and a refillable water bottle. Without a budget, you don't know what you're spending, so you can't find the waste.
3. Hit goals. To reach a financial goal: 1) set a time frame: "I'm going to save $_____ for a home down payment by the end of 2015; 2) write down the steps to get there: "I'll double my savings every month." But you need a budget to "find" that extra money (maybe those beverage savings?). A budget also keeps you motivated – you won't mind cutting out some movies if it means a nicer summer vacation.
4. Spend smarter. If your budget shows you spend more than you earn, it can also reveal ways to spend smarter. If your budget shows you earn more than you spend, you can then figure out the smartest way to spend, save, or invest the excess. Without a budget, you can't be sure about that surplus, so the extra money goes to mindless purchases.
5. Be prepared. You want to set money aside for unexpected medical expenses or repairs. These funds can also pay the bills if you're injured, sick, or laid off. A budget will help you set aside something each month to build an emergency fund to cover 3 months' expenses. If this gets hit, the budget can help you shift spending to build your emergency fund back up.
HEALTHY RESOLUTIONS YOU CAN ACTUALLY KEEP
1. Get more sleep. Committing to 8 hours a night is an effortless way to feel healthy. Researchers report sleeping burns fat, decreases stress, and boosts your immune system, mood, and alertness.
2. Spend time outside. Get some fresh air every day. Experts say being outdoors relaxes the mind. Take a walk before work or at lunch. Find a spot you like in your yard or a park and spend some time there.
3. Stop staring at screens. Turn off the TV, tablet, computer, and smart phone, and start enjoying the moment. Research shows kids glued to computers, TVs, and video games risk obesity, sleep disorders, and emotional and focus problems. Some experts say the same is true for adults.
4. Stop multitasking. Instead, pay attention to the most important thing you're doing, whether it's eating, working, or listening to the other person. Research shows people who focus on what they do, weigh less, stress less, and smile more.
5. Add to your diet. Instead of taking away sugar or fat, add something good to your diet – a serving of vegetables to your dinner or some protein to a snack. Drink 2 extra glasses of water a day. Healthy additions leave less room for unhealthy things.
6. Take a deep breath. Most people take shallow breaths. This limits oxygen intake and Harvard's Family Health Guide says that leads to increased anxiety and higher blood pressure. Take a moment and inhale deeply, expand your chest, lift your ribcage. Then slowly exhale.
The healthy approach to buying a home starts with the financing. We can answer any questions, whenever you're ready to take advantage of today's attractive housing market. We can also help with refinancing your existing home or funding home improvements. Please call or email us any time. We're always here for you.... Have a great day!
This information was provided by Danene Strand (NMLS# 442493) at Veritas Funding.