Have a Budget Today So You Can Save for Tomorrow | May 2016

I promised to talk about how to invest those IRA funds last month, but I have another point I need to discuss with you first. How do we get started investing, if we have nothing but a house payment, two car payments, three credit card payments, and four kids that require more monthly maintenance that the two cars?
Most of us don’t have a large inheritance or a winning lottery ticket, so where do we get that principal?
The answer, of course is that we must tend to the hard and disciplined work of budgeting and saving. I know it’s not fun to even think about, must less do, but it is essential to success in your personal finances. And the imagined drudgery will turn into enjoyment when you have knowledge and control your finances by managing them instead of them driving you to the poor house.
If you are a budgeter, you wouldn’t believe how many people don’t have a home budget. If you’re not a budgeter, you probably know you need to be, but just keep putting it off. If you’re procrastinating on this please listen to these two suggestions: your financial life won’t get any better for any length of time until you get on top your spending habits, and, your retirement is probably headed for disappoints if you don’t know what it takes for you to live the life you desire.
The on-line tools for budgeting are great these days. Many are available free. There’s also a lot to be said for the old method of using pad and paper, and separating cash for budgeted items into envelopes. If it isn’t there, you can’t spend it.
So the tools are there for budgeting if you have the desire to get going. Once you do, following the essentials like taxes, food, rent, and clothing, savings is one of the items that need to be high on the list.
Consider this: if you invest $100, on the first day of the month, every month, for forty years, and you earn a 2% annual return, you have over $73,000 in savings that you wouldn’t have had if you never start saving. Shoot, if it returns zero percent, you still have $24,000 socked away. If that return happened to be 6%, then there’s almost $200,000 in your nest egg. And if you put away $500 each month…well, you get the idea.
Compound interest over time can do wonderful things for your IRA, but if you don’t save, you’ll simply end up with zero.
So you’ve probably got my point. Begin saving now. If you already are saving, start increasing that saving percentage every year. You don’t have 40 years until retirement you say? Every day counts. Think of it as building your dream home. Every dollar of debt paid down is a brick in the wall; every dollar saved is another brick. Over time, you’ll build that home, the retirement and lifestyle you seek.
Next month, a bit more on the investments, themselves. Really, I mean it this time.