One of the most tedious, taxing, and tiresome stages of financial planning is when your planner sends you home with a budget sheet. They say, “simply fill this out will all of your expenditures in the last 3 months or so.” YEAH RIGHT!!! In today’s world we have debit cards, credit cards, mobile payments, PayPal accounts, and an entire generation of people who think balancing a checkbook consists of spinning it on one’s finger. Our transactions can be very frequent and in small amounts. These advancements in technology have made the process of budgeting very difficult.
All this said, it is very important to the planning process to work with accurate spending and saving numbers as financial plans are created. Many of your expenses will fall away when you are in retirement and those need to be identified and excluded for long-term planning.
So, what should you do when you find yourself in the unfortunate “budgeting” situation? Enlist help from the same technology that got you in this mess. Mint.com, Quicken, and Manila are all examples of online tools that will automate the budget process for you. If you already have online banking, chances are your bank offers a tool that will track, classify, and notify you of your expenses. This tool slices your expenditure into categories and delivers you the exact information that your planner is trying to obtain with little effort and often times at no cost.
Next time you find yourself leaving your planner’s office with a budget spreadsheet in your hand, enlist help by way of the information superhighway.