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Budget Money

Should you be funding a vacation right now?

Should you be funding a vacation right now? Good question.

We say yes. We say yes, specifically, because we know you work hard. In fact, a vacation is one of our favorite ways to spend our hard earned money intentionally. This is of course with the disclaimer that you can fund it out of your monthly budget! With that in mind, let’s dive into the how.

One of the best pieces of financial advice we give is to:

Fund your future instead of paying for your past.

This is an important concept that applies to every job your money does, but especially to your vacations! 
Sometimes folks go on vacations and they are stressed about each purchase, each meal, each bill. In their mind, the dollars are ringing up and they don’t really know how they are going to afford it when they get home. This person isn’t much fun during the vacation because they’re stressed. The family with this vacationer may not have as much fun either as they’re worried about whether the super-sized meal they order will set our money-stressed person off. The family then returns home with a bill racked up that they’ll be paying off for another year.
Contrast that with the family that goes on a vacation knowing that all they have to do is enjoy themselves. They’ve made a plan, they’ve funded the plan and all they’ve got to do is show up and enjoy the vacation they’ve worked so hard for. When they get back from vacation, they start dreaming about and setting aside money for the next one!
In this way, we can see how it’s possible to fund the future or pay for the past. 
When advising clients on funding a vacation, we tell them to create a plan for the cost and then set up a sinking fund. A sinking fund is kind of like a savings account, but with a specific purchase. A sinking fund pays for the big expenses in life we know are coming but we don’t want to go into debt to afford such as vacations, Christmas, new HVAC systems or even a new car. The way that sinking fund works is you take your expense and divide it by 12, the number of months in the year, and then you set exactly that amount aside in a special savings account. 
We also sometimes advise clients to “cash-flow” a vacation. For example, you might set aside enough money in your budget in one month to pay for airfare. The next month you might cash flow lodging. Next up you might purchase your venue/entertainment reservations. The month after that, you might purchase your food package. Finally, you’ll set aside how much cash you imagine you’ll need to comfortably get through the vacation.
With either method, you’ll be able to go and enjoy your vacation and bring back only memories rather than debt and stress. 

This is a little preview of what we do. We help clients create a budget & payoff debt. Want to set up a free, no-obligation 15 minute consultation?

Categories
Budget Money

Dos & Don’ts of Budgeting During Uncertainty

Right now there are a lot of things uncertain. What to do with your personal finances doesn’t have to be one of them. Grab your coffee and read about what to DO with your money and what NOT to do right now.

Do:

1. Create a budget for April.

We will always say that’s the priority, but right now it’s especially important. Let’s not ignore the numbers, let’s confront them. You will certainly need to tweak the numbers. Some things will be better (lower gas, less childcare costs), some may be worse (lower income). Just get it on paper.

2. Focus on NOW.

Many people are thinking about May or even September. That’s how overwhelm happens. Focus on the now! Let’s all get through April. No one knows really what’s coming anyway, it’s best to use our time & energy to make this month the best it can be.

3. Cover the four walls first.

This means food, shelter, transportation are the items you cover first in your budget. We’re not paying the credit card bill this month if it means we can’t afford to put food on the family table.

4. Control the controllables.

There’s so much you can’t control right now. You can’t control whether your get to leave your house, keep job and whether your kids are at home until August. And that’s just the beginning! So, let’s focus on what you CAN control.

You CAN control whether you get to work with what’s available. That may be side jobs or a job at Amazon or Target-they’re hiring. It may not be your chosen field, but we know you’ll do what it takes to take care of your family.

You can also be selling stuff or, at the least, simplifying your home during this time. Being productive and making your living space better are wonderful ways to process what’s going on.

You can control your attitude. You can control whether you help spread panic or spread hope.

Remember, the kids are watching. You can control how you frame this for them and how you take advantage of this time with them.

Don‘t:

1. Don’t keep making extra payments.

We’re in storm mode, so we are going to pause being gazelle intense on paying off debt and instead pile up cash until the storm passes. Don’t worry, when everything gets “back to normal,” you’ll have a big pile of money to dump on debt.

2. Pull your money out of investments.

Don’t panic and pull your money from investments. You haven’t lost any money until you do that very thing! Plus, there are so many unintended consequences with doing so. So, just don’t do it!

3. Be willy nilly with your Emergency Fund. 

Right now, everything feels like an emergency. But it’s not, not necessarily. We are still going to ask our three questions before pulling money out of that emergency fund. Is it unexpected, is it necessary and is it urgent? Getting takeout isn’t. Even getting a new dishwasher isn’t. But, losing your job and needing to pay the electric bill somehow, YES! That’s an emergency fund. You need that emergency fund now more than ever, so be very discerning when using it!

This is a little preview of what we do. We help clients create a budget & payoff debt. Want to set up a free, no-obligation 15 minute consultation?