This blog post is part 3 of a series on Managing Your Finances and Becoming Your Own CFO, featuring insights from my financial planner, Angela Moore. These blogs will show you exactly why I love her. You can find her at ModernMoneyAdvisor.com, @modernmoney305 on Twitter and @modernmoneyadvisor on Instagram.
In my previous blog post, Angela talked about managing your home and business budgets. In tandem with your budget, you will also need a spending and saving plan!
For our generation, spending isn’t as simple as, “Oh, I like to shop.” Many of the people within our generation are graduating with massive student loan debt.
On the other hand, 70% of the baby boomer generation, our parents, have not saved enough money for retirement.
A lot of us have to help our parents either now or in the future, but a lot of us also have kids or are planning on having kids and we’re trying to save for private school or college. Our spending is not necessarily frivolous, but it takes more for our generation to plan around spending than any other previous generation. I say this all the time, the differences between our finances and theirs:
- If you ask someone in their late 50s or 60s how much they spent on school, they’ll tell you that they spent about $1,500 a semester. There was no such thing as spending $60,000 a year on school back then.
- A lot of them have pensions, we don’t.
- A large portion of our generation isn’t making as much money as people did 20 years ago.
- Research projects that we’ll be living to be around 115 years old, so we’re planning and saving to live for another 50-60 years!
It’s more important than ever for our generation to have a financial strategy around spending. Balling out and buying handbags and shoes and traveling the world are all great, but we need to be aware of the big picture because, at the end of the day, we need to save for something to live on when we’re 115!
How is that possible when we’re spending so much?
Spend Less, Save Money, Grow Your Wealth
It’s all about thinking it through. For example, I will still spend money on things I love, like travel.
But, I’m also going to be very, very aware of everything else that I’m spending on to make sure that I’m still protected and I can still have the life that I want, not just right now, but 15 years from now, and 25 years from now, and even 50 years from now.
That’s the way we need to be thinking.
Our whole generation spends money on so many services, subscriptions like Apple Music or Spotify, Netflix, lunch deliveries, food boxes, and so on.
All of these things add up. The more you dig into your budget, the more you start thinking this: whenever we choose to spend our money on something, we’re making someone else rich.
Small amounts from different things add up every single day, every single month and then over 30 years. That’s a lot of money!
When you decide to save, you’re making yourself rich. When you spend you’re making someone else rich. That’s how I look at those things.
This is where a spending plan comes in. You’re in control, you have a plan, you can align your spending plan with whatever your goals are. It reduces the emotional decisions you might otherwise end up making, which is really, really important.
Spending and Saving Plan
Your total housing cost should be less than 30% of your total take-home pay. If you’re a business owner, your taxes should be in your spending plan. Don’t forget about taxes. Pay your taxes monthly or quarterly – don’t try to pay them at the end of the year.
Set aside money for taxes every month so that you have a lump sum of cash to pay your taxes. Build this into your monthly budget! Build everything into your monthly spending plan. Look at expenses you can get rid of and start making changes.
Saving is the Key to Wealth
I don’t care what anyone says. If you don’t have money set aside to invest when opportunities arise, you miss those opportunities to build your wealth.
You need an emergency fund that you just don’t touch and a savings plan where you can put away money for when those wealth-building opportunities come along. You should be able to take them without going broke every single time you invest!
There’s also delicious freedom in being able to say you have an emergency fund and a savings plan so you can pay your bills and live the way you want off your paycheck, all while having that peace of mind.
Retirement can be hard to talk about because it feels so far off. You might think you’ll wing it. You might be telling yourself all sorts of excuses. But all these steps in spending and saving leads to so much freedom.
Investing is Not Hard
Stop sitting out because you’re scared about not knowing how to pick a stock. Stocks aren’t something I typically recommend, but so many apps can now invest for you! You answer questions, you input your money, and then they do the work. There’s Schwab Intelligent Portfolio, Betterment, Wealthfront, Ellevest, and many more. All inexpensive, even fun tools! You can invest as little as $50 or as much as $5000.
Automate. You don’t have to sit at your desk all day and research stocks and look at what’s going on with these companies. Just put it in a diversified portfolio in line with your risk tolerance and in line with your goals and leave it alone. If you have questions, talk to my financial advisor, Angel Moore.
Investments doesn’t just mean stocks. There’s real estate, mutual funds, and so on. I think investing can be simplified and it’s a lot of times made out to be more complicated than it really is. You should find Angela’s video about investing in my Facebook group.
When it comes to investments, think like a chief financial officer, like a CFO. Every decision should be a business decision. You’re a boss woman. Make every decision like you’re running a Fortune 500 company and there’s a whole boardroom looking at you.
- Is this prudent?
- Does it make financial sense?
Your feelings shouldn’t matter. Don’t be driven by fear, or greed, or even excitement.
When investing, you may feel either gloom and doom or “I love this! I can do this!” but always stop and think, “Is this the right choice?”
Think about things from a very strategic standpoint. Even when you “treat yourself” with a pink Chanel bag, for example, you need to be able to say you’ve planned it into your budget. You planned it for your birthday. That means it’s no longer an emotional, compulsive decision. Go ahead, enjoy it!
Your Next Steps
When you see yourself on the right track, it’s very encouraging. It’s very hard at the beginning, especially if you’re just about to start organizing your finances, but it’s important to keep a positive outlook, not just on your money, but your business, family, and marriage.
There are tools you can use for your spending plan: Mint, Tiller, or YNAB (You Need A Budget).
Some people love or hate these tools. There’s a lot you can choose from. I use Excel!
Whichever you use, the important thing is to take control. Spend wisely, save, and invest!